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Basic Dog Grooming For Dummies

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Dog grooming is an important part of keeping your pet happy and healthy, so groom your dog regularly. Do the job right by having basic equipment; follow a routine to ensure that you cover all the steps each time. Grooming is more than just a bath and brushing — it includes cleaning teeth and ears and clipping nails. You should also know how to deal with some nasty issues such as matted hair and skunk spray.

Basic Equipment and Supplies for Dog Grooming

Good dog-grooming equipment is necessary for doing the job right. You don’t, however, need to buy the most expensive supplies to keep your dog’s coat in good condition. In fact, some of the best equipment can be made or purchased without spending too much money.

So what equipment do you need? Much depends on your dog’s breed. For example, an Alaskan Malamute is going to have different needs than a Poodle, and both are going to have different needs than a Bluetick Coonhound. So some of the equipment may not be optional if you have a particular type of dog.

Whatever the breed, this list of basic dog-grooming supplies will give you a solid start:

  • Comb. A medium-toothed comb is a good all-around comb, but get a fine-toothed comb if your dog has thin hair or a wide-toothed comb if her hair is thick. And get a flea comb for both removing fleas and tangles.
  • Brush. A slicker brush is a good all-purpose brush, but get a curry brush if your dog has short hair or a pin brush if your dog has a long single coat.
  • pH-balanced shampoo and conditioner made for dogs. Keep plenty of old towels on hand for drying.
  • A toothbrush and toothpaste made for dogs.
  • Dog toenail clippers and styptic powder. The powder helps stop bleeding in case you clip too close to the quick.
  • Otic solution, forceps, and gauze. Use these tools to clean your dog’s ears.
  • Electric clipper. If your dog’s coat needs to be clipped, you need a good electric clipper and blades, including a No. 10 Oster blade.

Gather these basic dog-grooming supplies and keep them in a special “doggy spa” bag or tack box — and remember to groom your dog on a regular basis to keep him happy and healthy.

An Efficient Routine for Dog Grooming

Follow these basic steps for a great dog-grooming routine that you do monthly. (You might need to do it more often, depending on the type of hair your dog has.) Many of these tasks — such as brushing your dog’s teeth — should be done a minimum of once a week, but others such as bathing and clipping need to be done less frequently.

  1. Brush out your dog, thoroughly removing any tangles or mats.
  2. Do a prebath clip or strip if your dog’s coat needs it.
  3. Express anal sacs if needed.
  4. Bathe and rinse thoroughly.
  5. Dry by using towels, a dog hair dryer, or human hair dryer set to no heat.
  6. Clean ears with otic solution; dry thoroughly.
  7. Clean eye tear stains if there are any.
  8. Trim toenails.
  9. Brush teeth.
  10. Brush out again and apply any leave-in conditioner.
  11. Clip hair if necessary.

Easy Steps to Grooming a Dog’s Nails, Teeth, and Ears

Grooming a dog’s nails, teeth, and ears may seem frivolous, but they’re as important to your dog’s good health as heartworm preventative and pest protection. Keep your dog healthy by performing these tasks every week:

Nail trimming

  1. Hold the foot steady.
  2. Snip off a small bit of the end of each toenail below the quick.
  3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 on each foot, and don’t forget to clip the dewclaws. (Nail polish optional!)

Ear cleaning

  1. Gently hold your dog’s head so that the open ear is exposed.
  2. Apply otic solution.
  3. Using a sterile gauze pad or sponge, gently wipe out the excess solution.

Teeth brushing

  1. Squeeze some doggie toothpaste onto the brush and allow your dog to lick it off.
  2. Flip up your dog’s lips and gently rub the toothbrush and toothpaste against your dog’s teeth and gums for a few seconds.
  3. Give your dog a treat, even if he allows you to work on his teeth for only a few seconds.

How to Remove Skunk Odor from Dogs

What do you do when your dog has been sprayed by a skunk? Use the following remedy to remove the skunk smell from your dog. It requires baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid dishwashing soap (the kind made for washing dishes by hand). Always keep these ingredients on hand in case your dog runs into a skunk.

Here’s the de-skunking recipe you need for any-sized dog:

  • Combine 1/2 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/8 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap in an open container.
  • Draw a tepid bath and put your dog in it.
  • Apply the solution liberally throughout your dog’s coat and suds him up well (to the skin). Avoid getting any solution in his eyes.
  • Rinse your dog well, drain the tub, and rinse well again.
  • Smell for any spots you’ve missed and repeat Steps 1 through 4 if necessary.
  • Follow up with a pH-balanced shampoo and conditioner for dogs; rinse well to remove all residue.

Don’t be fooled by some of the popular remedies for removing skunk spray from your dog. Here are reasons they don’t really work:

  • Tomato juice: An old standby, tomato juice does darn near nothing. It may cut through the oils in the skunk spray, but you still end up with a stinky dog — and a pinkish colored one at that.
  • Vinegar and water douche: Here’s another home remedy that really doesn’t do much. Yes, it may mask the smell a bit, but it doesn’t do much else.
  • Professional odor removers: These substances work okay on a variety of levels, but you’ll still know that your dog has been skunked.

Dog Grooming Basics: How to Remove Matted Dog Hair

Matted dog hair can be painful for your pet, so prevent matting by brushing your dog’s coat regularly. Instead of going to the dog groomer, save some money and learn to remove matted hair yourself. Badly matted fur should always be remedied by a professional dog groomer.

Follow these tips for removing snarled, tangled, matted dog hair:

  • If the mat isn’t too bad, spray it with detangler solution and use a comb to slowly work the mat free. Work from the outside of the mat (where the hair isn’t tangled) and slowly untangle the hair without pulling.
  • If the mat won’t come out with a comb, try cutting through the mat with a mat rake. Be careful when using this tool because it has sharp tines on it — you want to alleviate your dog’s pain from mats, not put her in worse pain by cutting or scratching her with the rake.
  • If the mat rake isn’t cutting it (so to speak), try using a mat splitter. Start by splitting the mat in horizontal or vertical strips and then use either a mat rake or a comb to tackle the smaller pieces individually. (Be very gentle! This tool has a sharp blade and can slice your dog’s skin.)
  • If the mat is in the worst shape it could be, then use a guarded electric clipper to slowly shave it away.


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