Grooming is an essential part of a dog’s health routine. Now that most grooming services have closed due to the COVID 19 business restrictions, dog owners are having to take dog grooming into their own hands. While dog grooming may be intimidating, especially if you have a dog with longer hair, it’s totally doable at home.
We’ve broken down the basics of at-home dog grooming and included essential tips for health and maintenance including how to avoid matting and cutting your dogs nails.
Here’s everything you need to know do have a full-on at-home dog grooming session with your dog!
Chances are, your dog is not a fan of being groomed and you are not a fan of grooming your dog. To make grooming as easy as possible, we recommend creating an inviting, calm space for your pup and getting everything prepped ahead of time so you are ready to go.
First select a spot that allows your dog to safely be groomed like your bathroom or if you are outside, secure them to a spot or create an enclosed space with gates.
Second, you’ll need to gather your supplies. If you don’t have the proper brushes or shampoo, don’t be temped to use human supplies and products. Dogs have different PH and needs. So get online and order the right stuff.
Here is a list of basic supplies to get started.
- Brushes and combs (depending on coat type)
- Dog shampoo
- Flea Comb
- Towels for drying
- Nail clippers
- Sani trimmers
Bathing Your Dog
First thing’s first! Before you reach for that water spigot, make sure you thoroughly brush your dog. This is imperative especially if you have a long-haired breed.
Brush out or cut out any existing mats on your dog before you bathe them. Matting worsens with each wash and becomes terribly difficult and painful to remove. So it’s very important to give your dog a thorough brush-out before the bath and remove all the tangles before you get them wet.
Brushing also helps to removes any dead hair from the skin follicle, distributes natural oils and increases your dog’s blood flow. As a general rule, dogs should be brushed about three times a week. If you have a longer haired dog, brushing curbs seasonal shedding. If your dog’s undercoat is shedding, it might also be time to do some DIY de-shedding.
Now that your dog is all brushed out, it’s time for a wash! We’ve broken it down into three simple steps:
- Prepping the area If you need help luring your dog into a bathing area, have no shame in using treats. Some folks put peanut butter right on their shower walls to give their dogs an incentive for getting *in* the shower or tub.
- Soaking the fur and skin Before you take out the shampoo, wet your dog down to the skin. A half wet or damp dog causes the overuse of shampoo which leaves behind residue. The water temperature should be lukewarm or around 70 to 80 degrees. If your dog is prone to ear infections, you can place cotton balls inside their ears (remember to take them out after!).
- Shampooing Start by using a small palm full of shampoo and wash your dogs face, neck, and chest and work your way back to the body, legs, feet, rear and tail. If your dog it thoroughly soaked, you do not need a lot of shampoo. This is also a great time to use your flea comb to gently remove any goop around the eyes or mouth.
Here’s a great tip from Go Groomer: use a loofah to lather shampoo all over your dog’s body! It will also exfoliate your dog’s skin, which will feel ahhhhmazing.
Blow dryers are not only scary to dogs but the heat can be too extreme and even burn your dog. With longer haired dogs, improper blow drying can also cause matting. Our advice is to leave blow drying to the experts.
Towels are just as effective and many dogs enjoy the sensation of being rubbed down with a large towel. If you take your time, you can get most of the moisture off of them. Make sure the inside of your dog’s ears are thoroughly dried to prevent infection. Enjoy the cuteness!
Finally, brush them out again. This will help remove any more loose hair and prevent matting.
Nail trimming is an important step in your dog’s grooming and health, but it can also be terrifying for both of you. Longer nails can cause discomfort, issues with walking, and allows the quick to grow out (making it harder to trim your dog’s nails). Learn more about how to trim your dog’s nails by reading this article:
While you’re bathing, check your dog’s ears for dirt or infection. Older dogs and dogs with long ears are more prone to getting moisture buildup in their ear canals which can cause pain and discomfort.
If they haven’t indicated any signs of pain, and you don’t see a bacteria buildup, they’re probably OK. Some common symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Brown discharge
- Bad odors
- Head shaking
- Redness & swelling
- Crusting or scabbing
If you notice your dog does have an ear infection, seek advice from your veterinarian on how to best treat it.
Yes, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth. Like with humans, regularly brushing keeps plaque and tartar at bay and improve your dog’s overall health. Do not use human-grade toothpaste on your dog. You’ll want to get specialty dog-friendly toothpaste and a size-appropriate toothbrush.
Sanitary & Paw Trims
Your dog’s paws or genital areas may be overgrowing with fur. Excess fur around paws can cause discomfort and issues with walking. Fur around the rear can become matted with urine and feces. Watch this video from Go Groomer for good advice on how to perform a sanitary trim and to see which clippers are best for your dog.
If your dog’s fur is growing out, let it! Despite popular belief, shaving your dog does not cool them down. Your dog’s coat naturally regulates your dog’s body temperature and shaving can change the way the fur grows and overheat them in certain cases. If you want to help your dog beat the oncoming summer weather, the best thing you can do for now is to brush them regularly.
Anal Gland Expression
If you notice some pooch scootin’ happening around the floors, it could be that your dog’s anal glands need expressing. Fluids build up in two anal sacs near your dog’s rectum which leads to a lot of discomfort. Signs that your dog’s anal glands are bothering them include biting or licking the rectal area, and scooting the butt along the floor. This is a process best left to the professionals, but if your dog is in need and you feel very confident that you can do it, we’ve included a video here on how the process works.
Rather wait for the professionals?
Starting in late April, our groomers will be back at Fitdog! We will have grooming-only days by appointment to help maintain your dog’s health. We’ll be sure to send email blasts to all of our club members. If you haven’t already subscribed to our email newsletter, make sure you sign up on our website!
We’re wishing everyone smooth sailings as we all navigate this new time. If you have any questions at all, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Instagram at @Fitdogclubs or @FitdogSports!