While you love your dog, frequent professional dog grooming is highly likely to wreck your bank account. There are also times when you may be unable to make or keep a dog grooming appointment due to situations beyond your control such as public mandates or work schedule conflicts. As you know dog grooming is an important part of a healthy regime, plus you want to keep your dog looking and feeling their best, so learning basic home grooming is a viable option. Besides saving money there are additional benefits both physical and emotional for both of you in grooming your dog at home.
These benefits include helping your dog maintain healthy skin and coat, dirty skin can’t breathe which can cause infection or irritation and keeping them clean also lessens the likelihood of parasites. One-to-one grooming time increases trust and builds a deeper bond with your dog. Hands on grooming helps familiarize you with your dog’s body and normal scent, so changes or odors are found quicker that may help your veterinarian identify illness. Finally, your favorite companion will smell good and shed less hair around your home.
What Basic Dog Grooming Supplies Will I Need?
- Comb. Medium or fine-tooth comb. A flea comb is optional if fleas are a concern.
- Brush. Slicker brush, pin brush, bristle brush, rubber tipped brush, or de shedding glove (hound glove).
Choose the Correct Comb or Brush Based on your Dog's Coat.
- Short and smooth coat with little or no undercoat. Includes Doberman Pinschers and Pugs. Bristle brush, brush with rubber teeth, or a de-shedding glove (hound glove).
- Short and wiry coat that is coarse with fur that is thick and hard with longer, softer coats on back. Includes Terriers and Schnauzers. Slicker brush and medium tooth comb.
- Short and double coat with a straight topcoat and soft and thin undercoat. Includes Labrador Retrievers and Rottweilers. Slicker brush, undercoat rake or de-shedding tool, pin brush, and metal comb.
- Long and Silky coat do not have an undercoat. Includes Maltese, Silky Terriers, and Yorkshire Terriers. Slicker brush and fine-tooth comb.
- Long and coarse cut with a thin and light undercoat. Includes Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus, Slicker brush, bristle brush, pin brush and fine-tooth comb.
- Long and double coat has a straight outer coat with a thick, heavy undercoat. Includes Collies, Chows, and Samoyeds. Slicker brush, large, wide-tooth comb.
- Curly coats that don’t shed but fur mats easily. Includes Poodles, and Kerry Blue Terriers. Slicker brush and metal comb.
- Hairless that have tufts of hair on the head, legs, and tail. Includes American Hairless Terriers and Chinese Crested. Bristle brush, brush with rubber teeth, or a de-shedding glove (hound glove).
- Dog shampoo and conditioner. Use gentle shampoo that is designed for dogs to clean their skin and maintain skin health. Do not use human shampoo as it is difficult to rinse from the skin and can cause dryness or irritation. There are numerous dog shampoos to choose from depending on your dog’s hair coat or skin coat. If your dog has allergies, dry skin, or skin diseases consult with your veterinarian on the correct shampoo and bathing frequency. Detanglers or conditioners are used for a soft, shiny coat that is easy to manage.
- Dog toothpaste and toothbrush. Brush dog teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs that is formulated to reduce plaque and tarter, as well as fight bad breath. Do not use human toothpaste as it is not made to be swallowed. Soft-bristled toothbrushes or finger toothbrushes are good choices. Plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth takes about 48-72 hours to calcify, so brush your dog’s teeth daily or every other day to remove plaque and keep their breath fresh. Make sure and brush at least the outer surface and lip area since where most of the plaque is found.
- Dog toenail clippers and styptic powder. Choose a high-quality nail clipper, that is sharp, strong, and easy to use. Styptic powder helps stop bleeding in case you clip too close to the quick.
- Ophthalmic ointment. Use protective ophthalmic eye ointment like Pura lube prior to bathing to help prevent eye irritations that could lead to infection.
- Ear Cleansing solution, cotton balls or gauze. Insert cotton balls into ears to prevent water from entering your dog’s ear canal during bathing. Clean dog’s ears by inserting ear cleaning solution into ear canal and massage base of ear for about 30 seconds. This squishy process may cause your dog to shake his head and spray you with debris, so have a towel handy to protect yourself.
- Electric clipper. If your dog’s coat requires clipping, purchase a quiet, cool running, good electric clipper with a No. 10 blade. If you have been professionally grooming your dog ask for a basic trim, as it will be easier to maintain.
- Pet Grooming Dryer. Optional but recommended as best practice to purchase a professional pet grooming dryer that reduces drying time at a temperature comfortable to your dog. Human hair dryers have high temperatures, even on low setting there is the potential to burn the skin, use only cool setting. Air-drying naturally is not always healthy and can be a lengthy process. A short hair dog may be able to air dry naturally, however there is potential for skin spots or fungus growth between paw pads if not dry. Long haired dogs will take hours to dry naturally which could result in matting or becoming dirty again.
Keep all your pet grooming supplies together in a grooming bag or box, so they will be easy to find during grooming sessions.
Preparations for Bathing your Dog.
Brush your Dog's Coat.
Brushing your dog’s coat removes dead hair, prevents mats from forming and maintains healthy skin by distributing skin oils and stimulating blood flow. Brushing is recommended before bathing as it removes loose hair and helps shampoo reach the skin and clean more effectively.
When brushing your dog start at their head and work toward the tail using firm, gentle stokes. Brushing can be done as often as you like as you can’t overbrush your dog’s coat, however long hair coats should get a daily brush while short hair coats need a least a weekly brush.
Dog Bathing Location and Washing Information.
Now decide where the bath is going to happen, depending on the size of your dog. Small dogs may fit in your kitchen sink or utility tub. Your bathroom tub may be needed for larger dogs or a portable pet tub may need purchased. Bathing your dog outside with a hose may not be the most comfortable for your dog and lukewarm water works best for the shampoo to work. Always have plenty of towels to help minimize the mess. Soak your dog completely with water before applying shampoo. Working from neck to tail, massage the shampoo into your dog’s hair and down to the skin. Rinse your dog thoroughly, especially in groin area, armpits, and between toes.
We hope these basic grooming tips and product suggestions have helped in a successful at home dog grooming session, resulting not only with a clean, happy, healthy dog, an increased bond between you and your pal, and a savings to your wallet.