Grooming and Bathing Basics

by Nancy Boland

Dogs don’t thoroughly groom and clean themselves in the same way that cats do, and so it’s your responsibility as a dog owner to meet them halfway and ensure that all of their needs are taken care of. Many owners choose to take their dog to a professional canine grooming salon on a regular basis, particularly owners of show quality dogs and dogs that are clipped or styled; however, even if your dog is professionally groomed regularly, it can be useful to know how to bathe and groom your dog yourself.
Here are some of our top tips on how to bathe and groom your dog, plus a few things to watch out for!

Here are a few things to look out for;

  • Keep a lookout for any inflamed areas of skin, lumps or bites while you groom your dog. Take the opportunity to give them a good checking over!
  • Avoid using a spot-on flea treatment prior to grooming or bathing- wait until the day after to avoid washing it off.
  • Keep a flea comb and tick twister to hand to remove any unwanted enemies you may find under the coat!
  • Check your dog’s ears for signs of mites or wax build up, and clean them gently but thoroughly. Never insert a cotton bud or any other object into your dog’s ears.

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  • Check over your pet’s paws- look for any sores, abrasions, corns, damaged claws, or stones and pebbles caught in between the toes.
  • Brushing your dog is a great way of keeping the coat in good condition, regardless of the breed of dog or the type of coat he has. Some dogs need brushing every day, while for some, once a week is fine. Brushing stimulates healthy hair growth and circulation, as well as helping to remove dead skin cells, dirt and grease.
  • Comb your dog gently- never pull on the coat or yank out knots. If grooming becomes unpleasant for your dog, he will be much more unwilling to let you groom him another time.
  • Do your dog’s nails need trimming? Some dogs wear their nail down naturally, while others that do not walk on the roads or are less active might need your help. Only use a professional clipping tool to trim your dog’s nails, and only trim off a tiny amount at a time. You must be able to see where the nerve in the nail is to trim- and never get close to it. If you cannot see where the nerve begins because your dog’s nails are dark or thick, take him to a groomer for nail clipping or ask your vet to do it.

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  • Use your grooming routine to get your dog used to having his teeth cleaned! If you can brush your dog’s teeth just once or twice a week, this can make a massive difference to their oral hygiene and the long-term health of his teeth.


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  • Wipe tearstains or mucus from around the eyes with a soft, damp cloth. Never poke around your dog’s eyes.
  • Consider using a coat conditioner, especially if your dog is prone to dry skin.
  • Be prepared for a hyperactive ten minutes as your dog goes absolutely crazy running around the house as part of his standard post-bath ritual!

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  • It’s hard work being preened and pampered!

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It may sound like a very involved procedure to bath and groom your own dog at home, and how long it takes and how hard it is will depend greatly on the temperament of your dog and how you handle it. Taking your dog to a grooming salon and allowing a professional to do it for you is definitely worthy of consideration, especially if you have a dog with a high maintenance coat. Nevertheless, with a little practice, grooming and bathing at home can become just another part of your pet care routine, and even a pleasurable one!

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