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Pamper Pup: How to groom your dog at home

How can I give my dog a proper bath?

Dog grooming tips to stay looking sharp and healthy! | True Charlie Co.
Photo by Autri Taheri on Unsplash

Dogs get dirty just like their owners do… and sometimes they get dirtier, especially if there is a nice muddy puddle to splash around in!

As well as needing a regular bath, dogs also rely on their owners to keep up with haircuts and grooming, and to make sure they don’t have fleas, ticks or signs of mange. 

Make sure your dog is happy and healthy with these tips for grooming your dog at home.

Washing your dog

The first step is to make sure you regularly bathe your pet. Think about what your hair is like when you haven’t washed it for a long time. Then imagine that your whole body was covered in hair.

That’s how it is for your pup. At least to some degree!

Because they are naturally a lot furrier than (most of) us, dogs do have natural oils that work to keep their hair healthy. This means that if you shampoo them too often, or use too harsh a shampoo, you can strip away those natural oils.

As a general rule, a gentle shampoo once a week should be plenty. However, dogs are an extremely varied bunch with many different types of coats. It is always a good idea to check with your vet what will be best for your particular breed. Longer coats tend to need washing more often than shorter ones.

When you’re washing your dog, make sure they are in a calm, comfortable place. The designated washing spot can vary greatly, according to the size of your dog, from a bath to a sink to the back yard. Check it is closed in and they can’t escape and so you don’t spend the entire time trying to pin them down.

Give your pet a good brush first and talk to them soothingly to keep them feeling safe and loved. Surprisingly, dogs have quite sensitive skin so make sure the water is no more than lukewarm.

After you wash your dog with a good quality dog shampoo, make sure to rinse thoroughly, again with lukewarm water. Unless you have a specific one for dogs, don’t use a hairdryer. These tools get too hot for dogs. 

Let your dog air dry or pat him dry gently with a clean towel. Make sure to give lots of praise and affection throughout the whole process and offer a little reward at the end.

Bath time with your dog should be fun! | True Charlie Co.

Brushing your dog 

Long-haired breeds should be brushed at least once a week. What’s known as a pin brush is generally the best to keep your shaggier dogs’ hair groomed and silky as it gets right into the undercoat and pulls out loose hairs without too much discomfort.

Shorter haired breeds can usually be brushed every few weeks. Rubber brushes or grooming gloves are a good way to remove all the dead hair from short-haired breeds like greyhounds. Wiry haired breeds like terriers are better off when brushed with what’s known as a slicker brush.

Whichever breed you have, always make sure to be gentle and to reassure your pooch through the process. Brushing should be an enjoyable bonding time. It is also a good chance to check your dog for fleas or ticks. Feel for the tell-tale ‘bump’ of a tick or check carefully if your dog yelps when you pass a particular spot. Instead of looking for fleas, check for scabby patches where your dog has been scratching or ‘flea dirt’ which almost looks like coffee grounds.

Angle your brush strokes down and out and have a detangling spray on hand for messier tangles. If you are struggling to brush your dog’s coat, there are always pet groomers or even your vet who can help you out.

Teeth and claws

An often overlooked part of dog grooming at home is teeth and claws. While offering them dry dog food provides some tooth cleaning, your dog’s teeth can be regularly brushed to keep them healthy and clean.

Good quality chew toys are also a great way to keep your pooch’s teeth in top shape. Chewing is the natural way that dogs clean and maintain their teeth so making sure they can indulge in this behaviour is worth your while (just hide your shoes, especially from your puppy!).

If your dog’s nails are clicking against the tiles, they are too long. You usually want to clip them just before they touch the ground. This keeps them safe from getting snagged and hurting your pet. Make sure to check your dog’s nails regularly to see whether a trip to the vet or a good quality dog nail clipper is in order.

Keep your dog looking their best! | True Charlie Co.
Photo by alan King on Unsplash

When it gets too much

Dog grooming at home is tricky for some people. Sometimes the only way to have your dog properly cleaned is to head to the vet or the groomer.

If you really struggle to keep your dog’s coat healthy, make sure to see your vet immediately. Also, if your dog is itchy all the time, if you see flaky skin, or if your pet seems uncomfortable, it is best to head to the vet. This could be because of a parasite or an eczema-style skin allergy which won’t calm down on its own.

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