The amount and kind of grooming of your dogs coat is determined by the dogs fur type, length, and the animals life style. Short coats will need less brushing or combing than those with longer fur. Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors will need more frequent grooming than dogs that live indoors. Grooming your dogs coat will prevent skin problems by keeping it free from fleas and ticks. Dogs also need regular ear inspections and cleaning, toenail trimming, tooth inspections and cleaning, and bathing.

 A common misconception is that a dog should be bathed as seldom as possible, you may wash your dog as often as necessary. However you must use a special shampoo, one that will not strip the natural oils from your dogs coat. When bathing your dog you may choose to shampoo the dogs body, legs, and feet first followed by the head. Be sure to use warm water when giving your dog a bath, apply a gentle shampoo and lather well, be very careful not to get any shampoo in your dogs eyes. Rinse your dog throughly and dry with a course towel. Any soap left on the dogs skin may cause itching so be sure to rinse throughly. As recommended by your veterinarian apply a flea dip, spray or a powder.

 Your dogs ears should be cleaned approximately every two weeks. Folded or hairy ears need to be cleaned more frequently than erect or basically bare ears. Check your dogs ears for any unusual discharge or odor. If you suspect possible ear infection bring this to the attention of your veterinarian. Use only a damp towel or soft cloth around your finger to clean the outer most visible parts of the ear. You may also use a cotton swab with mineral oil for cleaning. Small bits of ear wax need not be removed, this will help to protect the ear canal. Do not clean out an ear that looks infected, leave this up to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may recommend plucking or using tweezers to gently remove hairs that tend to block air circulation and contribute to infection within your dogs ear.

 Plaque and tarter can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. To prevent oral disease regular brushing every 2-3 days is highly recommended for your dog. You may use canine tooth paste in moderate amounts or a mixture of baking soda and water (scrub the teeth from crown to gum.). You may substitute a gauze pad rapped around your finger for a tooth brush. Dry food and hard chew toys may reduce the formation of tarter. However this does not eliminate the need for brushing.

 Although bone chewing is natural for a dog it may cause splinters of bone to be ingested. This may cause digestive upsets or internal injuries and also may result in broken teeth. Supplement a rawhide strip or special chew toy in place of bones. If yours dogs gums are bleeding, appear reddened or recede from the surface of the teeth check with your veterinarian.

 When trimming your dogs nails cut only the transparent part of the nail. Close clipping can cut into the “quick” the portion of the nail that has nerves and blood vessels and hurt the animal. There are special clippers that can be purchased for trimming your dogs nails.

 Grooming your dog will build on the pride of ownership. Remember, your dogs appearance may very will be a reflection of your own. Strive to bring your dog the very best in quality care.

A. Licata, freelance artist/writer of quality content and information for all who have an enthusiasm and love for dogs.

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