Grooming a Dog

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dog groomingToday I have some dog grooming tips for you – in fact, an article on grooming a dog, by Laura Wright. Laura is a life-long pet owner, who has worked as a veterinary technician for many years and has owned many animals from dogs and cats, to birds, rodents, rabbits, goats, and koi! Laura has faced all kinds of problems, and has come up with many inventive solutions when it comes to pet care. A native of California, Laura owns and shows Borzoi, and has won her share of ribbons in the ring. She currently resides in Mariposa, in the Sierra mountains, with her 3 borzoi, a dachshund, a corgi mix, and a species-confused cat named Harley.

So What Exactly Is Dog Grooming?

dog groomingSounds like a very basic question, doesn’t it? Dog grooming is far more than washing your dog! You need to pay attention to all aspects of the dog’s anatomy, and now is the time to do it! Grooming is an important part of keeping your dog happy and healthy. I am constantly asked so many questions about how, where and when to groom, so I put some of the basics together for you here.

Grooming Basics

Starting at the top, and moving down, first check the eyes and ears. Are the eyes clear and bright? Is there any discharge, or excessive tearing? Once checked, apply a thin coating of Vaseline around the eye area, to keep water and soap out when you bathe.

Ear Grooming

Now, the ears. Most of us don’t pay attention to an animal’s ears, but there is a lot that can go wrong in there! First, look at the external ear. Is there dirt visible? If so, dampen a washcloth with warm water, and gently scrub. If there is a lot of grime, add a bit of shampoo. You can also purchase special cleansing cloths made for this job, but baby wipes work just as well, and are much less expensive. Use unscented, as the dog doesn’t like the perfumes in many baby products! Now, sniff. Smell the ear canal. If there is a foul or bad odor there, it could be trouble. Get your dog into a vet for treatment as soon as possible.

Dog Dental Care

A dog’s teeth need attention, too, though not as much as a human’s! Check to see the condition of your dog’s teeth. Are they discolored, or covered with tartar? Use of a dental product made to reduce tartar can do wonders! I love DentaBones, made by Purina. They are available in a variety of sizes, and really do the job. If there are teeth that look dark, or there is a bad odor, you may need a professional to tend to your dog’s teeth. Schedule a trip to the vet for a dental check-up. It isn’t expensive, and may end up saving your dog’s teeth. *

Coat and Nail Grooming 

Brushing your dog before the actual bathing will help eliminate mats and stickers that are in there, as well as removing a lot of dead coat that can mat up when bathing. Now, check your dog’s toes. Check between the toes for foxtails and other weeds that can get wedged in there. Trim the nails if needed. Some dogs absolutely hate having their nails trimmed, and will put up quite a fuss. If it is too hard to do, take your dog to a groomer, or the vet. It is really cheap to clip the nails, and they can do it fast and easy. I have three dogs who make it sound like I am torturing them when I even think of trimming their nails! For about $10, you can have it done without the muss and grooming

Bathing Your Dog

First, wet the coat thoroughly. If the dog shakes off the water, wet it again. A great way to keep the dog from shaking off the water is to place your hand along the dog’s back. This usually works. Next, add the shampoo. Do this like you do to your own hair, by pouring some between your palms and applying to the coat. An easier way is to add water to the shampoo, and pour that over your dog. Do NOT apply straight shampoo directly to your dog, as it tends to ‘cake’ there, and won’t rinse off fully. Lather up, and rinse off well. Run your hands all over, to make sure all the product is off. When washing the dog’s face, gather up lather in your hands, and use that on the face and ears. It is easier to rinse off, and less likely to leave residue, and it cleans well.

Now, to dry! If you are lucky and have a blow dryer made for pets, you can dry the dog in a matter of minutes. I recommend investing in one if you have more than one dog. They can run a couple hundred dollars, but are a godsend, especially if you have a ‘coated’ breed, or one that sheds heavily. You can actually ‘blow’ the dead coat out easily, and get more out than by brushing or raking can. If you don’t have an air blower, a regular hair dryer will work. Make sure it is set on ‘cool’. Towel out as much of the water as possible, then blow the coat dry.

Now you’re ready to groom your dog like a pro! Good luck to you!

Laura has been sharing her wealth of dog knowledge and her wit via mail-group for years and has joined to share them with you.

Want more Laura? Click here for seasonal articles and links, emails, and more frequently asked questions

Do you have a question or problem relating to dogs? Questions are answered through our Dog Lovers Forum. Select login, enter your user information. Once your account is created you will need to log in using the password you just created. Select the category Ask Laura and post your question. The forum is monitored for new questions regularly throughout the day. If you require a private response you may email Laura at


* By the way, I have NEVER had my dogs’ teeth cleaned.  I ensure that I give them plenty of bones which really do keep their teeth in great shape.  If I were to use something in addition, this is what I would use – – it’s completely natural, and is a liquid that you add to the dog’s drinking water, and the result – no dog dental problems. I’ve had wonderful feedback about this product. 

Furminator – Small – $ 39.99
Furminator – Medium – $ 49.99
Furminator – Large – $ 59.99

Guaranteed to reduce shedding better than any brush or comb, and helps bring out your pet’s natural oils, leaving a shiny, healthy, topcoat.


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