August 2009

HI THERE,

How many people think that dog grooming is simply about brushing your dog every now and then (when you do have a few minutes to spare in your busy schedule) or that "this is something only done with dogs with long hair" and only for show purposes. All dogs need grooming, and grooming entails more than just brushing.

The dog's coat

All dogs need brushing from time to time, especially to limit them shedding hair all over your house. Short haired dogs often shed more than long haired ones, while the coats of long haired dogs need more regular brushing to keep it tidy and limit matting. The more often you brush/comb them, the better their coats will look and the less doggy hair in your house.

In summertime it is often (because of our warm climate) necessary to give your long haired dogs a proper "summer cut" (dogs such as Maltese, Poodles, Bouviers, Schnauzers, etc). This can be done at home (which often results in the not-so-professional look), or at a doggy parlour. If you want to show your dog, it would be more advisable to have it groomed by somebody who specializes in grooming according to the breed standards. This can cost you a pretty penny, but will be worth the effort.

Then comes the fun part - bathing your dog (and often yourself as well). Please do not use human soaps, shampoos or other products on your dog. The chemical components of these products are often harmful to your dog. Use doggy products. These can be bought at a reasonable price at your local supermarket, or you can opt for products sold by vets, should your dog have specific allergies or skin problems. Unlike humans - it is not necessary to bath your dog all that often. (Their coats are sort of self-cleaning.) Once a month (or even less) will be sufficient.

Also - do not forget the parasite control - your gogga-poisons to get rid of fleas, mites and ticks. This can be done by dipping your dog regularly, or using sprays or spot-on products. Consult your vet for all the options and chose the one most suitable for you. By preventing parasites, you also prevent illnesses such as tick fever.

The feet

Some dogs need to have their nails clipped regularly. If you are unsure how to do this (as you can easily cut the nail too short) please let your vet do this. Walking on too long claws for extended periods can harm the bone structure in your dog's feet and cause extreme discomfort.

Again with long haired breeds, the hair between the pads under the feet can become matted, causing discomfort when the dog walks. In extreme cases, this matted hair might get wet and cannot dry out properly because of its location under the feet, eventually causing infection and pain for the dog. To solve this problem you will have to consult your vet for medication.

The teeth

Believe it - even dogs suffer from dental diseases such as plaque and tartar build-up.

Consult your vet for proper doggy toothpaste and a tooth brush. Again, do not use your latest "... does it all in one, mom ..." human toothpaste on your dog. Rather try nice, liver flavoured toothpaste - that should do the trick.

Another option is, when your dog needs to be anesthetized for some reason, request the vet to clean its teeth while your dog is sleeping.

The ears

Check the ears regularly, make sure they are clean and remove all excess hair from the ear canal. Often (especially "floppy eared") dogs get ear infections, which can be harmful to their acute sense of hearing.

However, we all know that dogs don't normally use their ears, considering the scenario in obedience training: "Bobo, sit. Bobo, Sit! Bobo SIT! Bobo SIT!!! Bobo, SIT!! S..I..T!!!!" Only around the last command, the sense of hearing seems to kick in, and usually after threats from the handler! But still, it is important to prevent ear infections.

The eyes

Again especially long haired breeds, a teary substance from the eyes gets clogged up in the inner corner of the eyes and needs to be removed regularly to prevent infection.