Keeping up with our dogs' grooming maintenance is something most dog owners wish they would do better. It's easy to put it off until tomorrow, or "hold out" until the next appointment at the dog groomer's, but let's be honest - a dog with long nails, matted hair, and smelly ears is not best suited for cuddles, guests, or sleepovers in your bed. Too quickly the time catches up with you, and at that point you don't know where to start!
Why is Grooming Important?
The first thing to consider is how important grooming is to you but more specifically how important it is to your dog's breed. On the spectrum of a breed's grooming needs, Poodles, Huskies, Bichon Frises, and Terriers rank as the most needy. Whereas Beagles, Great Danes, and Greyhounds are considered the least needy. Even so, low maintenance dogs such as Beagles still require grooming - the most obvious task is hair brushing, but there is also clipping nails, cleaning ears, and brushing teeth.
Brushing your dog's hair is important because (1) you can get a close look at their body and see if there are any wounds, debrie, bugs, etc. (2) it keeps the dog's hair from getting matted, (3) it makes your professional groomer's life easier, and (4) it is an opportunity for building a strong bond with your dog as it can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Dogs with thick hair will often get things stuck inside the tangles. It's a good hiding spot for twigs, bugs, leaves, and more. Getting a close look at your dog's skin is good because you might catch something that you otherwise would have never seen.
Matted hair looks very much like an impossible, hardened knot. They vary in sizes and are most often seen in the armpits, behind the ears, on paws, and the base of the tail. Hair gets matted because of the fine texture and frequent movement of our dogs. Matts cannot be brushed out like typical tangled hair, they are painful to remove and uncomfortable to live with.
Your groomer will thank you.
When you get in the habit of brushing your dog's hair often, it is no longer a painful or annoying process. Rather, it becomes cathartic and enjoyable. This is one of the few times in the day where ALL your attention is focused on your dog and you're giving lots of affection. Make it enjoyable for you as well by putting on your favorite show or chatting with an old friend.
Clipping a dog's nails is probably the most avoided grooming task by dog owners. Dogs do not naturally enjoy having their paws handled, not to mention the big nail clipper to scare them even more. When your dog won't cooperate, the struggle is real. Then, we hear that the dog will start bleeding if we cut too low and at that point most dog owners throw in the towel and decide to wait until the vet or groomer will do it.
Dogs with long nails are painful for us owners because we will often get scratched during playtime or our rugs and couches suffer the consequences. As well, dogs with long nails are not able to walk properly as they are forced to adjust their weight to the back-end of their paw. This causes a whole other set of problems that are irrelevant for this post.
Cleaning a dog's ears is the easiest thing to miss because their ears are often flopped over, so we don't really think about it too much. Interestingly so, dogs that have floppy ears are most likely to get ear infections. This is because the deep ear canal paired with a closed, humid space is the perfect breeding ground for yeast growth. Yeast infections are the most common and come with a very distinct smell. They are easy to treat but MUST be treated. Once a yeast infection has started, it will not go away simply by cleaning it with an ear cleanser; an antibiotic must be prescribed to fight the infection.
Just like us, dogs also have ear wax that can build up over time. Flushing out their ears is easy and painless, and it also prevents yeast infections from coming back.
Yup! Dogs need to get their teeth brushed daily JUST like we do! Trust me, you will save yourself thousands of dollars in dental cleaning and teeth pulling in the future by adopting this daily habit. Dog's teeth wear down and get plaque build-up very much like our teeth. Without regular brushing, bacteria will begin to grow, their teeth will decay, and they are more likely to get gum infections or eventually need a tooth to be pulled ($$). You may not notice the plaque inside your dog's mouth, but you will definitely notice the intolerable bad breath.