Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds
Want to learn how to take care of your dog's grooming needs at home? From washing, brushing and cutting nails to cleaning your dog's eyes, ears and teeth, it's important to keep on top of your dog's hygiene with a few basic grooming tasks. Read on to find out how to groom your dog at home.
- Dog incontinence nappies
- Dog perfume
- Dog brushes
- Dog shampoo
- Dog dental care
Grooming a dog: the basics
Taking care of your dog's hygiene needs includes everything from grooming your dog to keeping their environment clean. This is why it's essential to toilet train your four-legged friend and pick up after them.
Taking care of your dog involves checking and cleaning various parts of their body on a regular basis. Brushing will be a weekly task for some dogs while others require a daily brush. Ear and teeth care is also important and should be carried out at least once a week in order to prevent infections or unpleasant odours.
Your dog's nails should be kept at the right length to allow your dog to walk correctly. The dew claws, if your dog has them, should be trimmed to prevent them bending back or getting pulled out entirely. Dogs should be given at least four baths a year with the change of each season; however, you might want to factor in a few quick rinses for unscheduled mud baths...! Coat trimming should be done as needed when the fur grows in.
Dog nappies for incontinence
Dog nappies are generally designed for older or disabled dogs. As your dog gets older, they may lose control of their bladder or simply be unable to get outdoors in time to do their business. Dog nappies can be a good solution to avoid accidents in the house but should always be used alongside regular toilet breaks. Whether your dog has had an accident or was born with a disability that prevents them from going to the toilet like other dogs, dog nappies can help them to live a relatively normal life.
It is also possible to find specially designed nappies for female dogs in heat. These nappies are designed to hold in any bloody discharge while allowing your dog to move around freely. However, it is a good idea to take the nappy off before walks to allow your dog to go to the toilet normally. This type of dog nappy is often made up of a washable nappy and disposable padding.
Dog perfume is a little extra step for anyone looking to make their dog smell particularly nice. Some dogs do smell more than others; this depends on the amount of sebum excreted by the skin (an oil that helps to protect the skin). Before applying dog perfume, it's best to wash your dog using a dog shampoo and dry them off thoroughly as wet fur does smell more than dry.
But be careful: some dogs do not enjoy having an unfamiliar smell on their coat and will take the first opportunity to roll around in something smelly!
Furthermore, it's worth noting that if your dog is particularly smelly, it could be due to an underlying skin issue or food intolerance. In this case, it's a good idea to make an appointment with your vet.
Dog brushes for short or long fur
Does your dog tend to lose fur? Well, there's nothing too unusual about that! While dogs will generally lose their coat at the start of summer and winter, they also lose hair all year long – just like we do! Brushing your dog will help to get rid of dead hair and make their coat shine.
Different breeds have different hair types:
Some breeds have a double coat. The undercoat is smooth but very dense, which allows your dog to better regulate their body temperature. Double coats are common with long-haired breeds such as German shepherds and huskies, and extra long-haired breeds like Newfoundlands and Japanese spitz.
A metal or rubber curry comb or a slicker brush can be used to get rid of dead hair from the depths of the coat. A metal brush or comb can be used to remove dead fur from different types of coat, but should never be used on smooth coats! A synthetic or natural bristled brush can be used to tidy up the top coat and give it a nice shine without pulling out hair.
A rubber massage mitt can be a great option for short and semi-long coats if you want to turn the chore of dog brushing into a relaxing massage for your pet! In addition to strengthening the bond between dog and owner, these magic mitts work to remove dead hair by gathering it into clumps.
Basic dog grooming tasks
So, what are the most important ways to care for your dog?
- Eye care: to clean up eye discharge.
- Ear care: to get rid of excess wax and prevent bad smells.
- Coat care: for shiny and soft fur.
Dog shampoo is another way to care for your dog's coat and can make your dog's fur feel softer.
With such a wide range of products on offer, it's hard to know which ones to purchase. Most importantly, bear in mind that the more natural a product is, the less likely it is to cause an allergic reaction. Furthermore, it is always recommended to buy products from a pet shop or vet rather than from a supermarket.
Flea and tick shampoos
Dog grooming accessories
There are several key steps involved in grooming a dog.
- Shampooing (using a dog shampoo suited to your dog's fur type and level of skin sensitivity).
- Trimming fur (using scissors or clippers).
- Drying (using a hair dryer on a low setting).
- Brushing (metal or rubber brush).
- Nail clippers (designed for dogs).
Professionals tend to use a strap designed to keep your dog standing up while their fur is getting cut and dried. A super-absorbent towel can be really effective for drying long-haired coats. That said, if your dog will tolerate it, you can use a hair dryer.
And don't forget to dry your dogs ears; you can use a cotton bud, but be sure never to insert it inside the ear.
Does your dog need a trim on a regular basis? Want to take care of their coat yourself? In this case, you'll need a set of dog clippers. Choose between professional or semi-professional ranges, depending on your budget.
Here are a few factors to weigh up before choosing a pair of clippers for your dog:
- number of blades;
- type of fur (curly, long, double coat, etc.) ;
- battery life;
- corded or cordless;
- the comb type and number of blades. ;
- the noise level (in decibels).
A healthy dog usually goes number two about two or three times a day. Even if you have a garden you'll still need to pick up after them if you want to enjoy your outdoor space. A pooper scooper can be used to pick up your dog's poops without having to bend down. Alternatively, you could invest in a shovel that you only use for this purpose.
Of course, if you don't pick up after your dog in the street, you risk getting fined so you best have a steady supply of poop bags on you at all times. When you're out and about, this will be the easiest way to clean up after your dog. Once again, you'll find a couple of options here:
- Perfumed poop bags.
- Paper poop bags that come with their own scoop.
Remember: if your dog poops three times a day, this adds up to 1095 times over the course of one year! With this in mind, it's best to go for bags made of a biodegradable material or ones made from a recycled material.
Dog dental care
Dogs need to have their teeth brushed, too! If you want to combat bad breath and tartar – both of which are results of plaque build-up – it is highly recommended to brush your dog's teeth.
But how should you go about brushing them? You've got two main solutions:
- Use a finger toothbrush.
- Use a soft, long toothbrush.
You simply need to apply a bit of dog toothpaste to the finger brush or long toothbrush and use it to tackle all sides of the teeth. Ideally you should do this every day.
Additionally, you might want to offer a water additive to your dog in their water bowl. This type of product is both odourless and tasteless.
And if you really want to keep your dog's mouth healthy, it's a good idea to offer a special anti-tartar chew every day to fight plaque and bad breath. Given after meals, these chews allow your dog to clean their own teeth and give them something to do.
Puppy training pads
Puppy training pads, or pee pads, can be used to help toilet train your dog. Of course, not many owners enjoy cleaning dog dirt and urine off the floor! Puppy pads are designed to be placed in one spot in the house to allow your dog to relieve themselves.
Looking for a pee pad? They come in a number of different forms:
- Fake grass pads.
- Disposable pads.
- Washable cotton pads.
- Puppy training pads consisting of a pad surrounded by plastic.
But be careful: using a pee pad can slow down your toilet training.
In summary, dog grooming is a vast subject that covers everything from the snout right down to the paws! To keep your dog clean and healthy, you'll need to clean various parts of the body on a regular basis; most importantly, the eyes, ears, coat and paws. For each task you'll find a grooming tool designed for the purpose. Finally, don't hesitate to make a vet appointment if you find any unusual symptoms while grooming such as bad odours or redness.
Dog grooming accessories
Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 97 guides
With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.