Dog grooming tips
There’s nothing more heart-warming than seeing your pet pooch bounding through the brambles to greet you. It’s what dog ownership is all about.
But without proper care and attention, those outdoor adventures could spell problems for your pet.
Good grooming is a vital task for responsible pet owners. Read on for our top grooming tips to keep your furry friend in fine fettle – and discover where to compare pet insurance too.
How to do basic dog grooming
There are several stages to good dog grooming, making it a pretty lengthy and not always welcome process. Some dogs revel in the attention, while others howl and squirm.
If you have a large dog, or if your animal gets very distressed, you may need a human helper. You can also spread your grooming routine over several days.
Brushing and combing
Stroking a long-haired dog is wonderfully relaxing – it’s said to release calming hormones in both human and animal alike. Gazing at a gorgeously groomed Golder Retriever is good for the soul, too.
But if your pooch’s coat is matted and tangled, you know you need to get out the comb and scissors.
The kit you’ll need depends on your breed of dog, but is likely to include a brush, a comb, a clipper, a cloth, and detangler solution. Get it all laid out ready, then sit your dog down gently in front of you or between your legs.
The way you brush also depends on your dog’s coat.
If it’s thick, you may like to brush against the lay of the fur, then back again. That helps you get to the undercoat, remove loose hair and also stimulate the dog’s skin.
Start at your dog’s head. You’ll need to be especially gentle here: you can get special slicker combs to help you go easy.
If your dog has long hair, put your fingers between its skin and the teeth of the comb to protect it.
Use a cloth soaked in doggy detangler to help you with any particularly matted sections, for example around the ears. If it’s really bad, clip it out.
Then work your way down your dog’s body. Go softly on the sensitive underbelly and around the base of the tail.
On most breeds, the legs have shorter hair and just require a quick comb.
No matter how muddy and matted your dog’s coat is, remember to stay gentle at all times.
Dog brushing is not always a pleasant task, but it helps keep your dog clean and protected from disease. Make sure it’s covered by insurance, too – compare pet insurance to find the best policy for your pooch.
You’ll need a dedicated dog shampoo, cotton wool, dog treats, a flannel or sponge and a towel that you use only for your canine.
A rubber mat in the bath or cubicle will help your pooch stay on its paws.
Make sure you’ve got the necessary supplies all laid out as you don’t want a soggy doggy jumping out after you as you go in search of an item you’ve forgotten! Remove the shampoo cap, too, and close the bathroom door.
Get the water running at the right lukewarm temperature, then put balls of cotton wool in your dog’s ears to stop water getting in and causing infections. Don’t push them in too far.
Now lift your dog into the cubicle or tub.
Wet it from the neck backwards, avoiding its head and making sure the coat is saturated.
Then apply the shampoo along the body, taking care to avoid the head.
Massage it in all over, following the direction of the hair growth to avoid tangling, until your dog is lathered up.
Don’t forget the paws, tail and stomach.
Make sure you rinse well. Even with a mild shampoo, your dog’s skin is sensitive, and residue can cause irritation.
Finally, give its head a wipe with a damp cloth. Afterwards, lift your dog out of the tub or cubicle and give it a treat.
On a warm day, you might choose to take your canine to the garden where it can run around shaking its coat dry to its heart content.
In fact, during summer you might prefer to carry out the whole procedure outdoors with a hosepipe – it’s more fun for everyone!
Then give your dog a good, brisk towel-down, a cuddle and another treat. Use a hairdryer on a low setting to dry its coat thoroughly.
Some dogs love a good shower. Others – not so much.
If your canine howls or protests, try to distract it with a toy. Keep your voice calm and soothing and keep the shower as brief as possible.
If it’s really hard going, remind yourself that staying clean and hygienic is essential to your dog’s health.
Compare pet insurance to keep your pet covered for illnesses and injuries, too.
Once your dog is brushed and clean, you can trim its coat with electric clippers.
It’s best to start a clipping routine while your pooch is still a pup, so it gets used to the noise.
You should also choose the quietest clippers you can find!
Read up about your breed or get a professional dog groomer to show you how your mutt should look.
When the time comes, buzz gently along your dog’s coat in sections. You might need different settings for the top coat and the under coat.
Clipper blades can become hot, so buy special coolant to prevent discomfort or burns for your dog.
Keep blades sharp – accidents are more likely with blunt edges.
Compare pet insurance to find cover for accidental injuries to your pooch.
You’ll need special dog toothpaste, as the fluoride in your own brand could be poisonous to your pooch.
However, you can use human toothbrushes for most dogs – just make sure they’re the right size.
For large dogs, use an adult toothbrush; for smaller dogs, a child’s brush; and for toy breeds, buy a special brush from a pet store.
Wait until your dog’s calm – after a walk is ideal. Then let it taste a little of the toothpaste on your finger.
Begin by holding the dog’s muzzle to stop it chewing, and then insert the toothbrush gently and slowly. Start with the long canines rather than the incisors, which are more sensitive.
If your pet lets you, work around its mouth as you would your own. If it objects strongly, then do what you can and take a break. Try another section the following day.
Eventually, your dog should let you brush its teeth with little or no complaint.
Insurance should cover further doggy dentistry requirements – compare pet insurance to find the right cover for your pooch.
If you need to clip your canine’s claws, make sure you have a sharp clipper, a mellow mutt, and plenty of patience.
Only large dogs need large clippers – otherwise, pick the smallest you can handle to avoid the risk of painful mistakes.
Let your animal get used to seeing and sniffing the clippers before you get to work.
Your aim is just to trim the tips, so never put the whole claw in the clipper. Cut at a 45-degree angle.
If you accidentally cut the quick of the nail, you’ll hurt your poor pooch. You can apply styptic powder from your pet store to stop it bleeding.
While you’re at paw level, check the pads for any splinters or signs of infection and consult your vet if you spot an issue.
You can compare pet insurance at Go Get It to find cover for illnesses and injuries.
Last but not least, every dog needs its ears checked and cleaned once in a while to stop them becoming, well, dog-eared.
If your dog enjoys baths, then it’s a good idea to do this while it’s in the tub as it can get a little messy!
Gently squirt in a little dog ear cleaner, then massage the base of the ear canal to spread the liquid around and get it in the nooks and crannies.
Let your dog shake away the excess – stand well back or hold up a towel! – then wipe out the remainder gently with cotton wool.
Repeat the process on the other side. If your dog’s ears are particularly dirty, you may need to clean them two or three times.
Don’t try to delve too deep into the ear canal – you can hurt your dog and damage its hearing. Never use a cotton bud for the same reason.
A regular ear clean stops dirt and wax building up and causing infections, irritation or deafness.
It also allows you to inspect your dog’s ears for signs of illness, such as discharge, bleeding, or unusual growths.
If you spot something worrying, see your vet. Compare pet insurance to find cover for vet’s fees.
When to groom your dog
How frequently you groom your dog depends on its breed, coat, diet, exercise habits and proneness to particular conditions.
Long-haired dogs are going to need regular attention. It depends on the breed and how much looks matter to you, but a weekly brush and bath is a good idea.
Owners who show their dogs might even do a daily groom.
Of course, if your mutt loves rolling in the mud, it’s going to need at least a basic wipe-down after every walk.
Teeth should be cleaned every week, or even every day. If your pooch eats a raw food diet, it’s less likely to develop gum and tooth diseases, but it’s not a failsafe option.
Smaller breeds tend to be more prone to dental problems than larger ones.
As for claws – it depends on how much your dog wears them down naturally. If it runs around on hard surfaces a lot, that’s your job largely done for you. Check them weekly and give them a clip if necessary.
If you hear claws clipping on hard floors, it’s definitely time for a pooch pedicure!
Some breeds of dog are prone to ear problems.
Those with long dangly ears, such as Springer Spaniels, are especially vulnerable, so check them frequently and look out for signs such as scratching or head-shaking that could indicate a problem.
What you should leave to a professional
With the plethora of dog grooming shops and mobile grooming services around, you may choose to outsource the above tasks entirely.
Professionals have the skills, kit and patience to spruce up even the most mud-loving pooches – and prices are competitive.
Even if you take a DIY approach, though, certain tasks are best left to the experts.
Dogs such as Poodles and Shih Tzus have demanding, fast-growing coats.
You might learn the hairdressing basics yourself, but if you want your animal Instagram-ready, then a trained dog groomer is a better bet.
A badly matted coat could also be a job for a professional dog groomer, who’ll have the equipment to deal with even the worst doggy hair day.
More serious problems can be spotted while grooming your pet that might entail a trip to the vet.
You could find ticks, badly embedded splinters, or signs of infection, all of which are best dealt with by a vet or veterinary nurse. Decayed teeth are another issue that must be dealt with promptly and professionally.
Compare pet insurance to find the right cover for your canine companion.
Compare pet insurance today
Grooming is about more than getting your dog photo-ready – it’s about keeping it hygienic and healthy.
By searching for cover through the UK’s only dedicated pet insurance comparison site, you can help ensure that Rex or Roxy stay looking and feeling their very best.
Go Get It works with the UK’s leading pet insurance providers to offer you a range of cover options, from Accident Only to Lifetime Cover. Cover is available from eight weeks with no upper age limit.
Policies pay out up to £15,000, depending on the level of cover chosen, and many providers offer a multi-pet discount.
Should you wish to take your canine beauty abroad, overseas travel is included on many policies.
Get a quote today.