While dogs do have some sense of basic hygiene, they definitely do not possess the high standards of hygiene of their feline counterparts. All dogs would need some help in keeping themselves looking presentable, and as owners, it is our responsibility to keep them well-groomed. Though grooming requirements differ from breed to breed, there are some basic guidelines that all owners should follow.
BathingHow often: Depending on your dog's lifestyle, breed and fur type, it may need a bath as much as once a week or as little as once every three months. Dogs with normal, healthy skin can probably make do with a bath every month, unless they are prone to smelling quickly. Proper Practices:
- The water should be lukewarm. Avoid cold and hot water when bathing your pup
- Avoid the eyes and ears to prevent infection and discomfort during bath time
- Towel dry or use a hair dryer on low heat for pups with long, thick fur
- If you are using a new shampoo for the first time, monitor your dog's skin for any reactions. Consult your veterinarian for recommended shampoo if need be
GroomingHow often: Nails should be trimmed at least once a month. Brushing varies from breed to breed, but should at least be done once to twice a week. Read more on the factors to consider when deciding how often to groom your dog here. Proper practices:
- Grooming may be done at home or at the groomers', depending on your dog's coat and how much time and effort you are willing to spend. Breeds such as poodles that have characteristically tight curls are best looked after by a professional groomer.
- The type of equipment you need really depends on the breed of your dog (i.e. the length and type of fur your dog has) but for the purposes of this article, I will introduce the very basic grooming tools that all owners should have at hand.
Steel Brush: To remove tangles
Bristle Brush: To remove dead hairs and remaining dirt
Fine Comb: To give a silky finish (this is optional for dogs with shorter coats)
- For silky coats, the bristle brush is particularly useful for bringing out the healthy shine in your dog’s coat. You could then use the comb to part the long hair on the back, and then comb each side straight down.
General Hygiene (Eyes, Ears, Teeth)
Proper practices: You may remove mucus/debris from around the eyes with a moistened cotton wool or towel. If using cotton wool, make sure to change to a new piece for the second eye. The eyes should be bright, clear and free from any discharge or inflammation. If your pup has unnaturally watery eyes or blinks excessively, you should pay a visit to the vet at once.
How often: Ears should be cleaned once a week to prevent infections.
- Check carefully for wax, odour, inflammation or foreign materials
- Wet a cotton ball with ear cleaning solution or use a pet wipe to wipe the inside of your dog's ear. Avoid using water as it does not evaporate easily
- It is important to be very gentle when cleaning your dog's ears
- Using cotton buds is highly discouraged as they can easily damage your dog’s delicate eardrums
- The inside of the ears should be a dull pink. If you notice any discharge or odour from the ears, notify your vet immediately
How often: Brushing your dog's teeth once or twice a week is a good practice to reduce the risk of painful and expensive dental problems.
- Use a finger cap scrubber or dog toothbrush to gently brush the top surface of your dog's teeth
- Apply water or dog-safe toothpaste as you scrub. Do not use human toothpaste
Need More Tips?
1.If you have a long-coated dog, always brush it before bathing to prevent matting.
2. If your dog's hair is matted, apply cornstarch to the matted area and brush. Cornstarch is harmless to dogs.
3. If your dog's hair is all over your fabric furniture, it can easily be removed with tools such as the 3M Scotch Fur Fighter Pet Hair Remover for Upholstery.
Note: A big thank you to our reader, Lynette Yee who has shared some of these useful tips with us!