Grooming your dog

Dogs vary enormously in size, shape, and behaviour; and all have individual needs, one thing of importance in common across all of them is regular grooming.

By Rebecca Tolhurst, Pet Grooming School

Dog being groomedIt keeps the coat clean and manageable, alerts the owner to any early signs of illness and promotes good blood circulation. For any first-time owners of a dog, it’s important to do research on breeds to see what fits in well with their lifestyle. Some breeds require more grooming time than others and some will need to visit a salon more often than others, adding to the cost of owning their new pet. With coat types ranging from those with long flowing silky coats, such as the Cocker Spaniel, to those with short skinhugging smooth coats like the French Bulldog, each brings slightly different needs, but regular grooming allows new hair growth and assists the natural regulation of the dog’s body temperature and helps with weatherproofing.

Regular brushing and combing help to ensure that long coats don’t get matted and helps the shorter coated dogs with the natural shedding of hair. Regular bathing, drying, and brushing your dog ensures that their coat doesn’t start to mat up and actually helps the natural shedding process, but in turn you are also giving your dog a mini health-check. Grooming your dog regularly means that you are far more likely to spot parasites such as fleas and ticks, as well as lumps, sores and grass seeds. Spending time grooming your dog is a good way to get them used to being handled. It’s also a great way to get to know your dog and to show appreciation, understand any behaviour issues and work with them to overcome any fears of being touched and handled.

It’s also a great opportunity to check that eyes are clean and clear, and that ears are free from a build-up of wax and odour as so to prevent an ear infection. Some breeds, especially those with long dropped ears such as spaniels, can be more prone to ear issues, so detecting these issues early could aid a faster recovery. If you suspect your dog has an ear issue, always seek veterinary advice. Check your dog’s mouth, teeth, and gums to ensure there are no broken teeth or debris stuck in the mouth and that plaque isn’t starting to build up. Again, if you spot any potential issues, seek veterinary advice. Groomers will always check this area and give feedback if anything irregular is found and recommend a visit to the vet if needed.

Cute dog being groomed

Feet and nails are also a very important area to check over while grooming. If nails become too long, walking can become painful and the nails may start to curl around and into the dog’s pad, causing pain, discomfort and leading to possible infection. It’s also important to check for objects between a dog’s pads, as they can become matted and clogged with mud, and at certain times of the year, grass seeds can easily embed themselves in the feet.

All dogs naturally shed their coat – some more than others – so regular grooming will help this process and mean less shedding of hair and dander (flakes of dead skin) in your house, helping to reduce bad odours in the house. People prone to allergies may not realise that dander can be the cause of their allergies to dogs, not just the hair, so they may find that regular bathing and brushing of their dog will help to reduce dander and hair shedding and therefore reduce flare up of their allergies.

Cleaning dogs eyesUnderstanding what is meant by matting and how to avoid it is often challenging for new owners. While most owners brush their dog, they sometimes don’t get deep enough into the coat to avoid matting from happening. Sometimes a variety of tools is what is needed to keep a coat matt free. Frequent brushing and combing is a must to keep those hard to manage coats such as a much loved cockapoo well maintained between grooming.

Many people don’t realise that washing and towel-drying their dog – leaving them to dry naturally – can in fact aid the matting process. To avoid this, owners need to brush, comb and dry their dog at the same time. Physical removal of matting can cause discomfort to a dog and often the only option is to clip the coat on a short blade to get under it and remove with as little discomfort as possible. Prevention is key, therefore, to reduce the risk of it happening in the first place.

To help owners keep on top of and understand how to groom their dog effectively, some dog grooming training centres – including the Pet Grooming School – offer days where you can learn to groom your own dog. This session helps the owner to understand how to use dog grooming equipment safely and how to handle their dog correctly and safely while grooming. If the dog requires specific styling, don’t forget that it can take many years of training to become a competent dog groomer and it is always best to seek a qualified dog groomer to complete this. However, being able to maintain your dog’s coat and nails between visits to the grooming salon can help to reduce overall costs for grooming and again creates an enjoyable time bonding with your dog. Dog groomers certainly appreciate owners that have taken the time to and effort to understand and maintain their dog’s coat and health between visits to the salon!

For more information, visit http://www.petgroomingschool.co.uk/

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