Establishing a Grooming Routine It is very important to accustom your puppy to being handled for grooming right from the start of your relationship. A good grooming routine includes attention to the coat, teeth, nails and ears. Handling these areas of your puppy now will make grooming and hygiene chores much easier for the rest of his/her life. Be gentle but insistent when handling your puppy. Do not allow him/her to bite you or the grooming tools. 1. Coat Maintenance Regular grooming helps keep the coat and skin healthy as well as enhancing the beauty of your dog. Each breed will have different needs and some will require regular, professional grooming. If necessary, consult a good breed book or professional groomer to find out the appropriate haircut for your dog. The kind of equipment you will need depends on what breed you have as well as your dog’s hair texture. For many dogs, a metal comb and soft slicker brush are sufficient. For very smooth coated breeds (such as the Doberman or Weimaraner) a bristle brush or a rubber tipped brush work well.

Brushing several times a week will keep the average dog neat and clean. Make sure to brush all the way down to the skin in order to stimulate blood circulation as well as loosen and remove dead hair and dandruff. For a dog with healthy skin, bathing is necessary only when the dog becomes excessively dirty or contaminated with something offensive. Too frequent of washing removes natural oils and causes the coat to become dry and harsh. However, it is wise to give your pup an occasional bath in order to accustom him/her to it before becoming fully grown. Use a mild shampoo made for dogs. Do not use human shampoo. The pH of human shampoo is not appropriate for dogs and may cause problems.

The dog should be thoroughly brushed and combed before bathing. Plug your dog’s ears with a cotton ball to prevent water from entering the ear canal. Wet the dog completely, apply shampoo and work into a lather. Be sure to rinse very well. Towel dry or if needed blow dry with the dryer on a warm to cool setting. Be sure on chilly days to keep the dog indoors until he is completely dry.

2. Nail Trimming Nails should be trimmed so that they just clear the floor. Long nails may cause the foot to splay or spread, or may even grow into the dog’s skin. Purchase a specially-designed nail trimmer from a pet shop or your veterinarian. You should also have a file for smoothing rough edges and some Kwik Stop (a blood coagulator) in case you should cut to close to the quick. The quick is the blood supply within the nail. It is visible as the pink area in white nails. Trimming black nails is a bit more difficult. For this reason, it is a good idea to take off a little bit (just the hook like part of the nail) and then trim more frequently. If you are uncomfortable trimming your puppy’s nails, you should still make a point of handling the feet and nails. This will make the job easier for whoever does the trimming and makes it less stressful for your pet. Schedule trimming your dog’s nails at least once

per month.

3. Ears Check your dog’s ears weekly for dirt and wax buildup. This is particularly important in long-eared breeds. The ears should be cleaned approximately once every month, more often if he/she is prone to ear problems. Use a commercially-available ear cleaning product and gently swab with a cotton ball only the part of the outer ear that you can see. Any signs of irritation should be reported to your veterinarian. The ears of some dogs contain quite a bit of hair, which may block air circulation and contribute to ear infections. It may be recommended that you remove this hair periodically. If so, use your fingers or a tweezers to remove only the hairs that pluck out easily. Adding a bit of baby powder to the ear hair may aid in removal. If you are uncomfortable with this task, consult a professional groomer. 4. Eyes Some breeds have a narrowing of the duct running between the nose and eyes causing the eyes to run almost constantly. This fluid interacts with bacteria found in the air and on the skin, causing it to darken and turn a brownish color. In turn, this may cause staining of the hair under the inner corner of the eye. Certain breeds are more prone to this than others, the Bichon Frise and Poodles for example. For these breed types it is important to clean under the eye daily. If the discharge is not removed on a regular basis, it can build up and form a hard crust that will get matted into the hair. This is not only unpleasant to look at, but removal can be extremely uncomfortable.

There are commercial solutions available that are specially formulated for light-colored dogs. The solution neutralizes the bacteria that cause staining. Otherwise tissue or cotton

balls dipped in warm water are ample supplies for removing the discharge. If your dog has profuse discharge or the discharge is yellowish in color, consult your veterinarian. This could indicate conjunctivitis or other eye problems. 5. Teeth Poor dental hygiene can cause more problems for your dog than just bad breath! Infected teeth and gums can spread bacteria throughout the dog’s entire body. It is important to clean your pet’s teeth once or twice a week. Use a soft child’s toothbrush or finger toothbrush which you can purchase at a pet store or from your veterinarian. It is important to use animal toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste; it may make your dog vomit. Brush the teeth in a circular motion from the gum to the crown. It is not necessary to clean the inner surfaces of the teeth since the dog’s tongue will do most of that work for you. It also helps to feed your dog dry dog food and provide rubber bones to chew on. The rubber bones should have nubs on them that massage the teeth and gums. The gum massage helps promote circulation, reduce tartar buildup and alleviate teething pain. In order to develop an easy and effective grooming routine with your dog it is important to start your puppy now!

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