5 Grooming Tips Every New Pet Owner Should Read
If you’re a first-time dog parent, there’s a lot to learn – everything from nutrition to wellness to socialization to training. After all, your new four-legged family member is depending on you to help them be healthy, happy and well-adjusted.
One thing that can often get overlooked is the importance of grooming for both health and comfort. Most dogs, even those with low-maintenance coats, require more than just the occasional bath to keep them in top shape. Plus, regular grooming will allow you to become familiar with what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to their body condition.
Check out these must-know grooming tips every new (and not-so-new) doggie parent should know.
Bathing your dog every two to four months should be sufficient, unless he’s particularly smelly or dirty. More frequent baths can strip essential oils and lead to itchy, dry skin.
Be sure to choose products specifically made for dogs, since most human shampoos can be too harsh for delicate canine skin. Avoid the eyes and always rinse thoroughly. Make bath time a positive experience by offering plenty of praise and treats.
Dogs with long coats should be brushed at least every other day to avoid painful mats and tangles. However, even dogs with short coats can benefit from regular brushing, since it helps distributes natural oils and removes dead hair.
Choose a brush that’s recommended for your dog’s coat type and won’t irritate their skin. Brushing with long, gentle strokes in the direction of the fur growth should be enough to remove excess hair while also being pleasurable for your dog.
Long nails can lead to a variety of problems for your dog including arthritis, joint stress and joint pain. Since most pet dogs aren’t active enough to wear down their nails naturally, regular nail trims are a must.
How often you trim depends on how fast your dog’s nails grow, but every two to three weeks is a good guideline. Using sharp scissor-type clippers made for pets, clip off the end of the nail, taking care not to cut the quick (the pink blood vessel that runs through the nail). Offer lots of rewards and treats! If you find the process too stressful for either of you, contact a groomer or your veterinarian for help.
Eyes and Ears
Keep your pup’s vision in focus by regularly inspecting their eyes and keeping fur trimmed back. Carefully wipe away any excess tears with a soft, damp cloth or cotton ball. If you notice bloody or discolored mucous, make an appointment with your vet right away.
Your dog’s ears – especially if they’re long, floppy or furry – should be cleaned regularly with a cleaning solution formulated for dogs (be sure to follow the directions!). At the same time, check the ears for swelling, a bad smell or parasites such as ticks.
Periodontal disease is one of the most common health issues veterinarians see, and it’s something that many pet owners overlook. Aside from bad breath and tooth decay, dental infections can contribute to serious conditions like heart and kidney disease.
Brushing your pet’s teeth on a regular basis is ideal, using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. Dental chews and bones can also help remove plaque and tartar. For dogs with more advanced dental disease, professional cleanings under anesthesia may be necessary.
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