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Grooming Your Dog

As you watch the Crufts dog show this March, you might find yourself fantasizing about circling the ring with your own beloved pet. After all, your Golden Retriever may look just as striking as the champions you see strutting their stuff for the judges at this largest dog show in the world. Perhaps your pet has the potential to be so stunning, but you just don’t know how to groom him to bring out his inner champion.
It’s certainly no secret that keeping a dog properly coiffed for the show ring can be a painstaking task. Animals participating in conformation events must look as close to perfect as possible, because the competition for that highly coveted Best in Show title is fierce. As an everyday pet owner, you can take comfort in the fact that no one will be critiquing your grooming abilities, but your dog can indeed turn heads when you walk him following a thorough grooming session.


Always begin the grooming process by brushing your dog. Whether you have just five minutes or an entire afternoon to devote to grooming, a complete brushing will remove dead hair and other debris from his coat. It will also prevent mats from forming. Brushing before bathing is a must. When knots get wet, they can be nearly impossible to untangle. 
While it requires a certain amount of effort, brushing is one of the easiest grooming tasks. Beginning at your dog’s head and working toward his tail, gently run the brush through his fur. Don’t forget his legs, chest, and belly. Also be sure to use a brush designed specifically for your dog’s coat type. And while even short-haired dogs need regular brushing, this task is essential for breeds with longer hair. For them, daily grooming sessions are a must.


As with brushing, different breeds need baths more often than others, but lifestyle also plays a part. Your Labrador Retriever may be able to go several months between baths as long as he doesn’t like to roll in the mud. A Yorkshire Terrier, on the other hand, may need a bath about once a month, even if the dog spends most of his time indoors. 
One of most important things to remember about bathing is that dogs need canine shampoo. Products made for people are too harsh for the pH of your pet’s skin. Since any soap left behind after bathing will dry your dog’s skin, it is also essential that you rinse all the shampoo from his coat. An easy way to make sure that you haven’t missed any is to rinse your pet twice.


Dogs with longer ears, like Cocker Spaniels, need ear cleanings about once a week. If your pet has short or pricked ears, less often should be fine, but do make a point of inspecting the ears whenever you brush your dog. Any dog can suffer from an infection if dirt and excess wax accumulate inside the ear.
To make the cleaning process as comfortable as possible for your pet, pick up an alcohol-free cleanser at your local pet supply store. Squirt a small amount into the ear canal, running it in from the outside of the ear,  and then gently wipe the inside of the ear with a cotton ball.
Your pet’s eyes are even easier to clean than his ears. Simply use a damp washcloth to wipe away any matter that has formed on or near the eyes as often as needed. For dogs who suffer from tearstaining, you may want to use a product made specifically this common issue. Clean, healthy eyes should always look bright and free of discharge.


Whether your dog is large or small, long-haired or smooth-coated, you will need to clip his toenails at least once every three weeks. If you can hear your pet’s nails when he walks across the floor, he is overdue for a trim. While this task can be intimidating, taking your time and trimming just the very end of each nail are the best ways to avoid cutting the quick, the sensitive tissue inside the nail also known as the nail bed. Frequent trimmings will cause the quick to recede, making the process even safer for your pet.
To keep your dog in tip-top shape, you will also need to brush his teeth regularly. Keeping your pet’s teeth clean prevents plaque and tartar from forming on them. The latter, also known as calculus, is not easily removed—most often it requires a veterinarian and anesthesia. You can avoid having to make an appointment with a professional by brushing your pet’s pearly whites daily, or as close to this time frame as you can. Even weekly brushing is better than skipping the task entirely.


Making the grooming process fun will encourage your pet to tolerate it well. Ideally, start grooming when your dog is still a puppy. Doing so will help him get comfortable with all the tasks. To make the process rewarding, always praise your pet for his compliance. Feeding him Nylabone Healthy Edibles Chews —in moderation, of course—is another smart way to reward your dog. The healthy ingredients will help keep his coat looking its best, whether he is parading around a show ring or just around the block.

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