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Grooming Essentials for Your Dog

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No matter their size, coat type, or level of shagginess, all dogs need regular grooming to stay healthy and look great. Dogs might benefit from cleaning and washing to just get rid of unwanted germs and grime that could cause illness or infection. 

You don’t have to take your dog to the groomer unless you want to get it a haircut. Many dogs are easy maintenance breeds that you can DIY groom at home as the low-shedding Poodles and Doodle crosses

Dog Brush

Depending on your dog’s coat, you’ll need one, if not more brushes to keep their shedding to the minimum. Brushing a dog’s fur is essential to remove dead fur and dander which can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people.

When it comes to brushing your dog, the type of brush you choose can make all the difference. For example, breeds with thick, double-coated fur like the German Shepherd or Siberian Husky will need a different brush and an undercoat rake compared to shorter fur that might only need a bristle brush. 

The best way to figure out which brush is right for your dog is to consult with a groomer or vet. They will be able to recommend a brush based on your dog’s coat type and length.

This is my favorite brush for my dogs, although it’s actually not a pet brush. It does a good job and my dogs love it. They actually get excited and try to be the first one for “brushy time”.

Once you have the right brush, it’s important to use it properly. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and take your time brushing in gentle, even strokes. 

If you can manage it, brush your dog every day, even if they have a short coat. It helps to keep shedding under control and if they have longer hair, it helps to keep the mats at bay.

Detangling Spray and De-Matting Comb

There are a few items you can use to aid with a dog’s exceptionally tough mats or knots. To make mats more manageable to comb through with an ordinary comb, use a detangling spray. 

This is my all-time favorite detangling spray. My chihuahuas usually don’t need it but one of my Yorkies has a “cotton” coat that mats constantly. The spray really helps with them. We love it so much, my granddaughter actually uses it on her hair too.

A broad-toothed comb can be required for dogs with very thick fur, but an intermediate comb will suffice for a wide range of breeds. Curved metal teeth on de-matting combs cut through mats as you brush avoiding rubbing the dog’s skin.

Dog Conditioner and Shampoo

chihuahua puppy getting bath in blue tub

It’s time for the bath once the dog’s coat has been brushed and detangled. For the coat to stay lustrous and gorgeous, the correct dog shampoo is crucial. Although some dog owners might be tempted to give their pet human shampoo, dog shampoo does have a specific pH balance that is suited to canines. 

Keep your dog’s coat clean, healthy, and beautiful by using a high-quality dog shampoo to eliminate dirt, odor, bacteria, and dead skin. In addition, dogs with sensitive or allergic skin would benefit well from a shampoo specifically made for their skin type. 

If you bathe your dog in the sink, consider putting a small towel in the bottom of the sink to keep your dog from slipping.

Also, a groomer’s trick I learned in grooming school is to fill half of a small squeeze bottle (I just use an empty smaller dish detergent bottle) with shampoo and the other half with water. Shake well. It’s easier this way to control where the shampoo goes and you aren’t using too much of it.

Dog Hair Trimmers or Scissors

If your dog’s coat is one that continually grows, you might need to give them an occasional haircut.

You can use electric clippers and scissors to shave a dog’s coat, and since canine fur is thicker than human hair when using an electric trimmer, pick one made for dogs. If you use an electric clipper meant for humans to groom animals, you will probably damage the clippers. 

Another way of trimming their hair is by using rounded scissors that protect your dog from nicks and cuts, especially if he tends to squirm during grooming.

Pay extra attention around the eyes and ears, keeping the hair out of the way. Excessive hair around the eyes and ears can collect dirt and debris, leaving your dog vulnerable to infection. 

Ear Cleaner and Cotton Balls

Cleaning your dog’s ears is an important part of their grooming routine. Ear infections are one of the most common health problems seen in dogs, and they can be quite painful.

If left untreated, ear infections can cause serious damage to the ear canal and even lead to deafness. 

In order to prevent ear infections, it is important to keep the ears clean and free of debris. The best way to do this is to use a dog-specific ear cleaner, which can be purchased at your local pet store. 

Apply the cleaner to a cotton ball and gently wipe the inside of the ear, being careful not to insert the cotton ball too far into the ear canal. Repeat this process once a week or as needed.

By keeping your dog’s ears clean, you can help them stay healthy and avoid potential pain and suffering.

My vet shared this little trick with me for a terri-poo I had that was prone to ear infections. Use 1 part water and 1 part apple cider vinegar with the “mother”. In my opinion, Bragg’s makes the best apple cider vinegar.

Pour in a small squirt bottle and shake well before each use. Using a cotton ball, gently wipe the inside of your dog’s ears with the solution. Do this once a week. It really helped my dog.

Eye Wipes

Some dogs, like our chihuahuas, are prone to tear stains. Often this is due to allergies or just having large, protruding eyes. You may need to wipe them daily to keep them from turning hard and crusty.

Wiping with a wet warm washcloth will usually loosen up the eye gunk. And for daily maintenance, we really like this brand of eye wipes. It has anti-itch and deodorizing qualities.

Nail Clippers and Styptic Powder

Proper nail care is crucial for a dog. Long nails can cause unpleasant snags or tears when your dog is roaming outside or on a carpet. Nails that protrude excessively beyond your dog’s paw can affect his gait, which in turn, can cause joint issues or canine arthritis.

We have a great post on how to clip your dog’s nails and also one on whether or not you should use a nail grinder on your dog’s nails.

Dog Treats

Grooming is often a stressful time for your dog, and if he behaves admirably, he should totally be rewarded! Have loads of treats on standby so if your dog starts to fuss or squirm, you can bribe him with treats.

I buy the tiny ones used for training so they aren’t getting too many calories. This is our favorite brand.

paw print graphic in purple and turquoise

I hope this has helped you with getting started grooming your dog. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below and if you have any grooming tips, feel free to share those too!