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Pet Happenings September 2009

Grooming - Especially Your Pet
by Jessica Turquette of Moab Barkery

Ever watched your dog roll on the ground, lick their coat or chew at a mat on their fur? These are their ways of keeping clean. Sometimes, though, they’ll need a little extra help to look and smell their best!

Make Grooming as Enjoyable as Possible—For the Both of You!

Grooming sessions should always be fun, so be sure to schedule them when your dog’s relaxed, especially if they are the excitable type. Until your pet is used to being groomed, keep the sessions short—just 5 to 10 minutes. Gradually lengthen the time until it becomes routine for your dog. You can help them get comfortable with being touched and handled by making a habit of petting every single part of your dog, including such potentially sensitive areas as the ears, tail, belly, back and feet.

And here’s one of our most important tips of all—pile on the praise and offer your pooch a treat when the session is finished!

Brushing: Regular grooming with a brush or comb will help keep your pet’s hair in good condition by removing dirt, spreading natural oils throughout their coat, preventing tangles and keeping their skin clean and irritant-free.
If your dog has a smooth, short coat (like that of a Chihuahua, Boxer or Basset Hound), you only need to brush once a week:

• First, use a rubber brush to loosen dead skin and dirt.
• Next, use a bristle brush to remove dead hair.
If your dog has dense fur that’s prone to matting, like that of a Retriever, Schnauzer, Border Collie or Westie here’s your weekly routine:
• Use a slicker brush to remove tangles.
• Next, catch dead hair with a bristle brush.
• Don’t forget to comb their tail if they have feathers.
If your dog has a long, luxurious coat, such as that of a Yorkshire Terrier, Shih Tzu, or Lhasa Apso they will need daily attention:
• Every day you’ll need to remove tangles with a slicker brush.
• Gently tease mats out with a slicker brush.
• Next, brush their coat with a bristle brush.
• These breeds often do best with professional grooming on a monthly basis.
Bathing: The ASPCA recommends bathing your dog every 60 days or so, and your pet may require more frequent baths in the summertime if they spend lots of time with you outdoors. Always use a mild shampoo that’s safe to use on dogs, and follow these easy steps:
• First, give your pet a good brushing to remove all dead hair and mats.
• Make sure to wet first and while washing, gently massage in shampoo and work from head to tail.
• Thoroughly rinse with a spray hose or pitcher, avoid the ears, eyes and nose.
• Check the ears for any foul odors or excessive debris; if you choose to use a cleansing solution on a cotton ball take care not to insert it into the canal.
• Dry your pet with a large towel or blow dryer (use low or NO HEAT!) Dogs can overheat with dryers.
Please note: Some animals seem to think that bath time is a perfect time to act goofy. Make sure to walk or exercise your dog first, and avoid a big meal before bath time too!

Nail Clipping: Most people really don’t handle their dog’s feet until they are about to clip the nails and then…watch out! Some animals can get very upset at this totally foreign feeling. That’s why it’s a good idea to get your dog used to having her feet touched before you attempt a nail trim.

Rub your hand up and down their leg and then gently press each individual toe—and be sure to give them lots of praise and some food treats as you do this. Every animal is different, but chances are that within a week or two of daily foot massage, your dog will be better able to tolerate a trim.

Here’s how to do it:
• Begin by spreading each of your dog’s feet to inspect for dirt and debris.
• Use sharp, guillotine-type nail clippers to cut off the tip of each nail at a slight angle, just before the point where it begins to curve.
• Take care to avoid the quick, a vein that runs into the nail. This pink area can be seen through the nail. If your dog has black nails, however, the quick will not be as easily discernible, so be extra careful and take less than you think.
• If you do accidentally cut into the quick, it may bleed, in which case you can apply some styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
• Once the nails have been cut, use an emery board to smooth any rough edges if possible. Keep your nail clippers in good shape, and buy new ones if they splinter the nail and can’t be sharpened!

Special Breeds, Special Needs: Often when your dog has a coat that requires trimming it’s great to have a professional handy. Here are a few things that can make a trip to the groom pleasant and more affordable.

1. Make sure your dog is up on their shots, parvo included! In Moab this disease is prevalent and remember this will keep your dog safe as well as everyone else.
2. Brush your dog, and make your visits regular (this will keep your groomer from having to do extra work, and it will be more comfortable for your dog). This will save you money and time.
3. Make an appointment, and avoid a big meal before your visit. A walk before hand can really make a difference for you, your dog and the groomer. A well exercised dog is much easier to work with.

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To see past articles about animals, pets and their care check our archives.

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