Dog Grooming Tips Archives

How Often Should My Dog Be Groomed?

Grooming isn’t just for the Poodles and Yorkies of the world. While small dogs with luxurious coats of hair and extravagant haircuts are generally what comes to mind when you think of grooming, in fact all dogs can benefit from a routine grooming program. How often your dog should be groomed depends on his breed, hair type, and activity level.

At it’s most basic level, grooming is the process of bathing the dog, trimming the coat, brushing out, clipping nails and generally cleaning and giving your dog a “spa day”. Grooming can be done at home or with a groomer, but it is important that your dogs various grooming needs be attended to on a regular basis.

Because coat care is only one part of the grooming process, even short hair dogs can greatly benefit from the occasional spa day. Short hair dogs may not require the extensive trimming or brushing that long hair dogs do, but they can still benefit from the other parts of the groom, such as nail trimming and brushing.

A Day Being Pampered

While each groomer has a different regime they follow, most basic grooming consists of the following steps:

Brush out- Before bathing or trimming, long hair dogs are brushed out, the undercoat carefully raked and dead hair thinned from the coat. Brushing has many health benefits to your dog. Regular brushing of all dogs, despite coat length or type, helps to keep the coat and skin healthy. Brushing also works to distribute the natural oils of the skin throughout the coat, promoting a healthier coat, and cleaner skin.

While you may bathe your dog at home regularly, most groomers utilize a bathing system. These systems are specially made to allow water and shampoo to penetrate even the thickest coats of hair, evenly spreading shampoo throughout the coat. Special hoses and water nozzles “massage” the soap throughout the coat, getting the coat cleaner than any hand wash could. In addition, the bathing systems are much faster than traditional bathing, shortening the time your pet may spend stressed out in the tub.

If your dog has long hair, or is prone to tangles or a dry coat, a coat conditioner may be used as a second step to the bathing process. Conditioners can help to manage the hair and make it softer, allowing for mats and tangles to be more easily removed, along with re-moisturizing the coat.

While in the bath, some groomers may take the opportunity to express your pets’ anal glands. The anal glands are two small sacks just inside your pets’ anus, and are filled with a foul smelling “scent fingerprint” that animals use to identify each other in the wild. Routine emptying of these sacs can help to prevent unwanted smells, as well as potential side effects from impacted or ruptured anal glands that go unemptied.

After bathing, a blower or dryer is used to dry the coat quickly and efficiently. The drying process also helps to further loosen up dead hair in the coat.

If your pet needs to be shaved or trimmed, once he is clean and dry, it’s time for the makeover! Depending on the breed of dog, and your preference, this can be anything from trimming a few hairs around the face and paws, to a complete shave down. Once trimming is complete, it’s time for another, more comprehensive brushing out. This is of special advantage to double-coated dogs, whose undercoat may continue to shed and as the process continues. A good, complete brushing at the groomers can make your brushing job at home much, much easier!

Long hair dogs tend to grow hair deep in the ear canal, and this hair can trap bacteria, causing irritation and ear infections. Your groomer will “pluck” this hair, and often do a cursory clean of the ears checking for anything abnormal. If ear discharge or redness is noticed, this can be relayed to you, so that you know that veterinary attention may be necessary to treat your dogs ear problem.

Finally, your groomer will clip your pets’ nails, and their skill and experience can often get them shorter than you can at home. A dremel tool may also be used, to help further shorten the nails, and blunt the edges to eliminate those sharp, newly cut nail scratches!

How often you should have your pet groomed depends on your dog, their coat type, and activity level. Longhaired dogs such as Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers and Maltese may require grooming as often as every other month, in order to maintain their coats. Cocker Spaniels and other dogs that routinely get cut back or shaved down may also need grooming this frequently. While thick coated dogs such as Collies and Shelties will not be getting shaved down while being groomed, they can greatly benefit from the special bathing systems, and comprehensive brushing they will receive, cutting down on shedding at home. Dogs that are active outdoors, and regularly pick up dirt, twigs and other natural things in their coats will obviously require more frequent grooming than their mostly indoor counterparts.

Short hair dogs, like Labradors, may only need a complete grooming once or twice a year. In between spa days, a nail trim and routine bathing at home may be all these need to stay clean and hygienic.

Whether done at home or with a groomer, a comprehensive grooming can be valuable in maintaining your dog’s basic health and happiness.

(Taken from

Tear Stains and White Dogs

It is an unfortunate fact that many white or light colored dogs have under-eye discoloration called “tear stains.”This discoloration is unsightly and can make the dog appear to look dirty, ungroomed, or even sickly; despite the grooming effort you make to remove them. And longhaired white dogs are not the only dogs affected by tear stains – other breeds like the Shih-Tzu, Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, Bulldog, Shar-pei and even some of the larger breeds, like the St Bernard and Newfoundland suffer from tear staining.

Why Does My Dog Get Tear Stains?

In general, your dog’s tear stains are usually due to an excess of bacteria or yeast growth. This is usually due to an unpleasant organism called “red yeast” which produces those reddish-brown facial stains and unpleasant odor your dog may be dealing with. The bacteria and yeast thrive in a moist environment, so the tear ducts in the eye are a perfect place for the bacteria and yeast to grow.

Another cause of the tear staining may be due to allergies to a particular dog food or the environment, especially if you notice the tear staining occurs during a specific season. It may also be aggravated by the pH of your dog’s drinking water or the mineral content within it.

Finally, genetics may also be a cause of the tear staining. Over breeding with some dogs suffering excessive tearing due to the shape and structure of their eyes or physical deformities of their face or tear ducts leads to a bloodline that may suffer from excessive tearing. Whatever the cause is, it is best to always take your dog to a trusted vet for a general examination first if you notice excessive tearing and tear stains. The vet will detect any serious problems – such as tear duct infection or blockage.

Determining the cause of excessive staining is very important as no matter how effectively it is removed, it will just return if you do not discover the reason for it and tackle the source of the problem.

However, it always helps to keep the dog’s face clean all the time, particularly the hair underneath the eye. Wipe this and other areas of the face several times a day by dabbing with some warm water or dilute lemon juice or salt water, taking extreme care not to get anything into the actual eye. Also keep the hair around the eye trimmed.

How To Keep Hair Out of the Eyes

Professional pet groomers and online pet stores carry specialized commercial products for dealing with tear stains but these often only lighten the stain’s color, never completely removing the stain. Unless your dog is a show dog, this is not really a serious issue. However, you can also try some home remedies which can be just as effective. The most common one is a mixture of equal volume milk of magnesia, and peroxide, plus cornstarch, made into a paste and very carefully and gently rubbed into the area of the stain, around the eye. Leave to dry and then rinse thoroughly, taking extreme care not to splash anything into the dog’s eye or allow any solution to wick through the facial hair and into the eye area.

You may need to repeat this application over several days if the stain is stubborn. Another option is to use a mild solution of bleach designed for human hair (usually hydrogen peroxide) – however, this is a very harsh treatment and best left to the experienced groomers or breeders.

As most tear stains are due to an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast, your best option for eliminating them completely is to control and eradicate these organisms. One way is to add a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water, thus changing the pH and preventing the yeast and bacteria from growing. Another option – which can be discussed with your vet – is to put your dog on a very low dose course of antibiotics which will eliminate bacterial overgrowth. However, this is very much a last resort and should not be used for continued treatment. It should also not be considered for puppies that have not got their adult teeth yet, as the antibiotics can cause the new teeth to stain yellow.

Always go with the least invasive treatment first and give it some time to work before moving on to the next option – never use multiple treatments at the same time.