Dogs are like family, and they deserve the same care and attention to hygiene as you or anyone else in your family. That being said, we know there are some dogs out there that don’t travel well or who get stressed out by grooming, and in some cases, there might not be time or money available for a visit to the groomer. No matter the reason for at-home grooming, it happens, and it’s important to do it correctly.
How to groom a dog
In this blog, we’ll share some of our favorite tips on how to groom a dog at home.
Brush your dog
It’s important to brush dogs with fur a few times a week to create a routine that gets your dog comfortable with the process. If done correctly and regularly, brushing can actually accomplish most of what needs to be done in terms of grooming, as bathing dogs a lot isn’t necessarily recommended by vets. In fact, brushing your dog will actually remove quite a bit of the dead fur and skin as well as dirt and grime that’s settled on your dog. If you are going to bathe your dog, make sure you brush him first to get rid of all the nasty stuff beforehand and prevent yourself from trying to clean a dog with dirty water.
The ideal brush for your dog is like a slick, metal pin brush, especially if your dog has longer fur. Using a brush like this will move easily through the fur and remove dirt, grass, and burrs. A shedding blade, on the other hand, works well on dogs with short fur and quickly removes the loose, fine fur. Regardless of the brush, though, make sure you brush your dog while he is standing up, rather than lying down, to ensure an even and thorough brushing.
Bathe your dog with the right shampoo
After you brush your dog, you may determine that he still needs a good bathing. If that’s the case, you’re going to want to make sure you use an appropriate dog shampoo. You should never use a shampoo intended for use on humans, as animal skin is different than human skin and has different needs.
We recommend using Skinny Paw, a pet shampoo designed with natural ingredients, including saponified coconut oil. While most shampoos have a pH of 8 or 9, Skinny Paw is a much more pet-friendly shampoo than most on the market today.
Trim your dog’s nails
Another important part of dog grooming is regularly trimming your dog’s nails. Doing so will ensure that your pet can walk safely and comfortably, without overgrown nails that make it easier for him to slip and fall or that might grow into his paws. We recommend speaking with your vet or groomer to learn how to safely trim your dog’s nails. (For example, cutting them too short can lead to bleeding and pain.) After that conversation, you can trim your dog’s nails at home if you feel comfortable doing so and it does not stress your dog out. (Too much stress could lead to injuries.) You might also consider rotary trimmers instead of regular clippers, though these take longer, and your dog may require training to tolerate them.
Clean your dog’s ears, eyes, and skinfolds
Ears, eyes, and skinfolds (such as the wrinkle above a pug’s nose) can commonly become infected, and some dogs are less lucky in this department than others. Fortunately, cleaning and maintenance of these areas of the body is fairly simple. To clean a dog’s ears, simply moisten a cotton ball (not a cotton swab) or cloth with coconut oil and gently wipe the inside of the ears. To clean a dog’s ears, use a similarly moistened cotton ball to wipe away any dried matter from your dog’s eyes; you can do the same to wipe away tear stains under the eyes or around the mouth. Finally, use a similarly moistened cloth to wipe skinfolds clean and remove any debris that has solidified in them.
Note: Because these areas are prone to infections for many dogs, make sure you contact your veterinarian if you suspect an infection. You can generally identify an infection by odor or discharge, especially if it is yellow or green in color.
Brush your dog’s teeth
Another important part of maintaining your dog’s hygiene involves brushing his teeth, preferably daily or as often as possible. To do this, you’ll need a moistened dog toothbrush with soft bristles. Other suitable tools would be a child’s toothbrush, a finger toothbrush, gauze around your finger, or a cotton swab. You’ll also need pet toothpaste (generally flavored to taste like poultry or other dog-friendly options to make the experience more enjoyable); just make sure never to use human toothpaste, baking soda, or salt because these will be harmful to your dog if he swallows them.
Have treats on hand
To accomplish any or all of these grooming routines, you will likely need treats on hand. In some cases, it will help create a more pleasant experience thanks to the positive association with treats, and in other cases, treats will work as a worthy distraction technique to keep your dog calm and occupied while you pamper him. The best treats to use here are high value ones or ones for which your pet has a particular fondness. You might try giving him some coconut oil to keep him busy or these homemade coconut oil dog treats.
Know your limits, and know your dog’s limits. The idea is to improve his life through proper hygiene and regular grooming. If you are unable to perform basic grooming routines without stressing your dog out or causing potential injuries to him or yourself, seek the help of a professional groomer. There is also no shame in taking as much time as you need to groom your dog yourself, even if it requires several attempts over the course of a few days.