Simple home grooming is part of proper care for your dog. In addition to adding comfort and confidence during physical handling, grooming is also a very effective way to spot many health issues early so that you can maintain your dog's good health and prevent or get ahead of potential health issues.

Coat Care

Brush more, bathe less. Brushing your dog's coat distributes oils evenly, helps keep it free of dirt and debris, and removes dead hair which can be a source of itching. 

For short haired dogs, we use a curry brush, finishing brush, and a damp washcloth.

VIDEO: Short Hair Dog Brushing

For long haired dogs, you will need a pin brush and a comb. Working in small sections, brush against the grain of the hair to get all the way down to the skin and through undercoat. Then brush with the grain of the hair. Use this process until you can run a comb through the hair without resistance. If you come upon matted spots, you can use a hair shaper to "comb" out the mat (you are cutting off small amounts of hair), or use a dematting tool to cut through the mat. Then go over the same spot as described with the brush and comb.

VIDEO: Long Hair Dog Brushing

When you do bathe your dog, using a dog shampoo is fine but more importantly we find that using soaps without many additives is more important. Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby Shampoo works well. During allergy season (or year round if your dog always seems to have skin issues), wiping them down with a clean wet rag each time they come in from being outside can be very helpful. 

Teeth Care

Clean teeth are important, but are frequently not necessary unless your dog has severe plaque build up. Help keep plaque at bay by giving your dog pacifier toys, such as nylabones or raw bones (ideal), frequently. This should be enough of a preventative to allow you to refrain from having to brush your dog's teeth. Vet teeth cleanings require anesthesia, which should be avoided any time you possibly can. Most dogs won't really need a veterinary teeth cleaning until they are middle aged (5 or so), if ever.

Nail Care

Dogs who are comformationally correct (the angulation and construction of their legs and feet is ideal) may not need routine nail clipping as every step they take on any relatively rough surface wears down their nails. But if you are not so lucky then your dog's nails should probably be trimmed every one to two weeks. If you can hear the nails clicking on the sidewalk or hard floors in your house, it's time for a trim. 

A good quality plier/scissor style clipper is preferred to a guillotine style clipper because it has two cutting surfaces rather than cutting from only one side. Clippers must be sharp so they cut, instead of crush, the nail, and a good rule of thumb is if the noise is loud when you clip the nail, your clippers need to be sharpened or replaced. 

For normal, "quick," nail trims, rest the handle end of the nail clippers on the dog's toe pad, and then angle the clippers at 45 degrees upward. Clip the nail just in front of the quick (if you can see it on light colored nails) or take small slivers off at a time, until you see a white dot in the middle of the black part of the nail (for dark nails). 

For nails with extra long quicks (created by infrequent trimming, old age, or bad genetics) we can attempt to have the quicks recede by clipping at three angles as shown in the picture below. This exposes the quick on the top and sides, and allows the dog to break off the bottom of the nail while walking, which fully exposes the end of the quick so that it can dry up and recede.

VIDEO: Nail Clipping

Ear Care

A moist wash cloth covering a finger is the easiest way to clean ears regularly. If they are particularly dirty, a foaming ear wash specifically made for dogs can help clear them out. You squirt it in, flip the ear down and massage the ear, then clean with wash cloth as described above.

VIDEO: Ear Cleaning

Eye Care

Check the eyes routinely for any debris. Use an eye rinse to flush if needed. Be sure to check for cloudiness in vision, or to see if one pupil is largely different in size than the other, assuming there isn't a bright light biased to one side.