How to Trim a Dog's Toenails

Nail trimming in dogs, called a PEDICURE, can be done simply if you know how.  It is a good idea to have a vet tech, veterinarian or dog groomer show you how to trim nails first.  Then, once you have an idea of what NOT to do you will be more successful in getting the job done.  Not all dogs need their nails trimmed, either.  Many will naturally wear the nails down or the dried ends of the nails will simply flake away without you even knowing.  But some breedsmay need our help in keeping the toe nails reasonably short.  And just count on cutting a nail too short on occasion. 

So let’s talk about trimming nails. Get yourself a RESCO nail trimmer, they seem to work the Nail Trimmingbest.  There are other trimmers available but the RESCO is the easiest to learn with, too. Or for large breeds and Basset Hounds (they have very big toenails) a sturdy Claw cutter works well.  Place the main part of the trimmer in the palm of your hand and the moveable part is controlled by your fingers.  You should be able to see the small cutting blade that slides when Nail Trimmingyou squeeze the handle.


Nails Trimming

The nail should be cut from underneath, not from the top downward.  Slide the opening over the end of the nail while staying in the whitish part of the nail.  The pink area of the nail is the live part and has blood vessels throughout.

Nails2To cut the nail, be decisive and make a smooth, quick squeeze on the handle while holding the trimmer steady.  Don't try to "pop" the end of the nail off; it will fall away on its own.





Nails3This nail has been cut about as far back as is possible without causing some bleeding.  You can file the edges or just let the dog wear the nail smooth.  Some people will cut the nail back until there is a slight amount of bleeding in an attempt to shorten the nail back further.  Not a bad idea to keep some Quickstop Powder on hand in case you do accidentally cut too short.




Nail TrimmingOn the dark nails where you can't see any pink to know where the live part of the nail starts, you can check the end of the nail.  The dead area usually is whitish and as you cut deeper into the end of the nail you will begin to see a dark area.  This dark area is where the live part starts.

Puppies and Grooming


BATHINGPuppy bath

So you just brought that new family member home and you are wondering about bathing it.  Maybe it smells a little like... well, like puppy smell !  Yes you can bathe even a very young pup and often a good bath really perks them up and helps to rid them of any dirt, stool or food that has hidden itself in the puppy's coat.

You can purchase puppy shampoo (get the tearless kind, it doesn't sting if it gets in the eyes) and wet the pup down completely.  Lather up the shampoo all over.  When you rinse the shampoo off, be sure that you get all of it off!  Even a little shampoo left on the coat can irritate the skin later on.  Rinse twice as long as you think you need to.  You do not have to put anything in the eyes prior to the bath... just try not to get any soap in the eyes.

You can put little cotton plugs in the ear canals to help keep the water and shampoo out of the ear canals, but this isn't absolutely necessary.  When you rinse be sure the water is warm and comfortable.   The surest way to make the pup hate a bath is to use water that is too cold or too hot.

Now that the pup has been rinsed off well, just wrap the little rascal in a big towel and gently rub the puppy dry.   You can also use a blow dryer but try not to scare the heck out of the pup if you are going to use one.  If it is warm outside a good run after a bath is an absolute delight for a dog.  Watch out, though, they usually head straight for the dirt or mud to roll around in!  (All dogs have been born with some sort of agreement among themselves to do this!)

HOW OFTEN?  You can bathe a dog whenever it really needs to be cleaned up.  In general, though, a bath every three weeks is about right.  And some breeds like Dobes, Boston Terriers and others with short coats may rarely need a bath.  Old English Sheepdogs and Collies are a different story!

WHAT KIND?  In general just use a mild dog/puppy shampoo.  A professional groomer can tell you if your dog needs a special formula to alleviate dry skin, allergic dermatitis or very sensitive skin.  

In short haired dogs just use a soft brush and sweep it over the coat in the direction of hair growth.  Long haired dogs and dogs with a double coat (short fuzzy hairs underneath long coarse hairs) can tolerate short wire brushes and steel combs.  Always be certain that when using the wire brushes that you are not scratching the dog's skin! Some dogs really need to be brushed out every day.  Others may never need a brushing because their coats are so short and tight to the skin.

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Untangling Knots and Drying Dog Hair

Untangling the knots in dog hair is no easy task. How to untangle knots in a dog's hair is explained herein: Make sure when drying and brushing your dog's hair to not pull too hard because it can irritate your dog's skin. Brush the hair quickly while drying it to air out and draw out the dog's hair. If you are the owner of a breed that has long hair, you will need to brush it in the direction of the hair so that it does not get tangled and make sure to separate it towards the sides if and when necessary. Usually this is done by brushing from back to front, and then brushing the paws downwards to upwards, and finally finishing with the dog's head and ears. If you have a special dog dryer you will need to dry the dog's legs by keeping them extended and brushing them against the direction of the dog's hair, the same way you would to untangle a knot. 
However, if you have a normal hand dryer you will have to dry the dog's legs and paws with a towel while at the same time using the dryer rubbing them upwards and downwards. Then you will proceed to pull the dog's hair outwards and dry until you have a perfect brushing. When using a hand dryer however, the results are not always the same as with professional dryers and it takes a lot longer.

Remember that it's very important you dry your dog's hair well especially in the areas that can be affected by humidity such as the dog's ears, whiskers; under it's tail, face legs and paws. It is essential to groom and brush your dog's hair every day. Doing this is not only good for your dog's coat but it will keep your home free of hair deposits. If you are able to, start brushing your dog's hair at puppy age so that he gets used to it. Dogs that are used to getting groomed often times enjoy these sessions.

How to Groom Dog with Scissors

There is a lot more to cutting a dog's hair with scissors, even more so than in trimming and it requires a lot of skill and practice. Don't be under the impression that you will be able to create a magnificent sculpture within the first weeks; you will need to practice. Before using scissors on your dog it's important to know that there are certain types of hair that can be cut while there are others that can't. Curly hair that can be pulled with a brushing are

perfect for cutting with scissors. Whereas longer hair, whether they be straight or have a lot of volume, should not be cut with scissors because it will turn into an uneven result. It's best to just even out this type of hair or to slightly shave it.

Make sure when starting out that the dog's hair is dry and perfectly brushed out, with no knots or mats. There is another technique called scissoring which consists in sculpting depending on the imaginary lines that will need to be done in as much of a uniform way as possible, which will then be the definite lines to follow of the cut.

Cleaning Dog Anal Glands

A dog's anal glands are the two small sacks bracketing from the anus. If you notice that your dog is continually licking his rectal area or dragging this area across the ground, it may indicate that the anal glands of the dog are full or infected. Make sure to consult your veterinarian about this. Usually, the way to deal with this problem is by regularly emptying out or expressing the anal glands. In order to do this, the dog must be standing in its bathtub with his head to the left and his behind area on the right, in the case of right-handed people that is. Next lift the dog's tail upwards firmly with your left hand and press on both sides of the dog's anus using your thumb and your index finger with your right hand.

Drying Dogs Hair

Blow drying and brushing your dog's hair: Blow drying a dog's hair is something that must be done very carefully because dogs are not able to handle the heat of a blow dryer very well. Using a dryer will decrease the amount of time you will need to spend towel drying your dog and in breeds that have curly hair it loosens the hair which forms a thick uniform layer which can then be cut with some scissors and will then allow you to sculpture it th 
e way you desire. If the dog's coat is not properly prepared, cutting it will be more difficult and the results will probably not be the best. If you choose to use a dryer on the dog's coat, it might turn into a problem since you need both hands – one to keep the dog in place and the other to use the brush. Professional dog groomers use special dryers that allow their hands to be free. Make sure to never put your dog too close to the dryer so as to not burn his hair. Brush the dog's hair while you are drying it with the brush or comb (depending on your breed).
As soon as your dog is done with his bath make sure to take as much water off of his coat with your hand by pressing hard on the sides of his head, tail and ears (make sure not to hurt the dog though!), followed by his sides, his stomach, his legs and paws from top to bottom. Finish off the job by drying him with a sponge towel or a normal towel completely. The dog will still be slightly wet after this but he should not be drenched in water by any means. 


First Dog Grooming Session

Even when we the dog owners occasionally groom our dogs, it is still necessary and indispensable to take them to the professional dog groomer or barber if we want them to look like the image of their breed. Although it is not easy to pinpoint which is the best dog groomer, you will need to find a groomer you feel comfortable and confident with. It's usually recommended you yourself (without your dog at first) go to the barber yourself to see the people's treatment with the dogs, the cleanliness of the place and obviously if you get a good feel off of it. This is suggested because the first visit to the groomer will have a strong impact on the dog if it is not an enjoyable one and it will determine how the dog will react in his future visits to the barber and  grooming sessions. If you are not sure which place to choose, ask friends or neighbors that have dogs.

Grooming a Field Spaniel

FieldspanielThe Field Spaniel requires a fair amount of grooming. A once or twice weekly brushing is needed, and every few months straggling hairs need to be scissored. Plucking is usually required to remove dead hairs, and the ears need to be frequently cleaned. Many owners prefer occasional trips to the groomer.

Dog Grooming Care and Precautions

It's very important the dog owner have full control over the situation when grooming his or her dog. The dog must not be allowed to threaten his owner and he must not bite or become aggressive. If this type of thing occurs, make sure to put a muzzle on the dog immediately; this will teach the dog that he is not allowed to act aggressively. When the dog calms down you can then take the muzzle off of him again, if he calms down make sure to praise him.
Make sure to keep an open eye as not all dogs show their aggressive intentions clearly. Be very careful with dogs that lick their mouths or worse yet, your hands because it is a signal of discomfort and it means he does not like what you are doing to him. A dog that does this might bite, so be very cautious. Remember that putting a muzzle on the dog will ensure your safety if he is not completely relaxed or starts to act aggressively.

Some of the items we use when grooming a dog such as electric buzzer, hair dryer etc. sometimes scare dogs. So it will be necessary to get the dog used to these sounds progressively by teaching the dog to listen to them without placing them directly on the dog's body yet. Remember to have full control of the situation, it is not the easiest job to groom a dog that does not want to sit still or that is afraid or worse yet, becomes aggressive. As the owner you will need to learn to have the last word. If you are not fully convinced of your way of doing this you will need to change the way you are grooming him. If you still need help with it, get professional guidance.

Grooming while Training Your Dog

There is a positive psychological aspect to grooming that is not known by a lot of people but that is of great interest, which has to do with the educational qualities that grooming sessions give and teach a dog.

This actually plays a very important role in the function of a dog's social life. In the wild, dogs or wolves that live together in packs revere a strong hierarchy. The wild dogs or wolves that occupy a high social position require and impose physical contact to those under them by licking them, nibbling them, cleaning their eyes,

ears, etc. and they decide when to stop as well. The under dogs are not allowed to resist the physical contact the superior ones give them. In a sense, these types of "communal hygiene" sessions help the superiors affirm their power over the rest.

This aspect carries a lot of importance in an owner - dog relationship as well as in the relationship with the veterinarian, groomer etc. If a dog owner does not physically come into contact with his or her dog or allows the animal to avoid it by growling and showing his teeth when he gets brushed etc, the owner will lose his place as the leader and will no longer be the dominant one. It is not uncommon to hear of dog owners that are afraid of their own dogs because the dog takes the owners place and calls the shots. If this type of situation happens to you, the best solution is to call for professional help; although it is not easy to resolve this type of problem, it is possible, but it will require of a lot of work from the both the dog and the owner.

Choosing Dog Clothes

Choices in dog clothes range from winter sweaters to football jerseys and summer tees. You can get a set of flannel PJ's for bedtime or a terry robe for after bath. There's even an entire line of Harley clothes for dogs, complete with leather cap and studded collar. Dog costumes made for parties and holidays are just too cute for words.

If you really want your gift to be a hit with admirers, accessorize. Try a designer dog collar and maybe a cool pair of sunglasses--they make them just for dogs. And I recently heard that leg warmers are making a come back.

Got a mischievous sense of humor?  There are some really creative doggie costume out there that are good for a chuckle or two.

There's really only a couple of rules you'll need to keep in mind when shopping for dog clothes:

One is that if the dog in question is an avid chewer, you should avoid buying him anything tempting. Shiny buttons, fringe, and feathers are examples that come to mind. An object that can easily be chewed off and swallowed is a choking hazard and can get stuck in the dog's digestive tract.

The other rule is that any dog, no matter how tolerant, will be more comfortable wearing clothes that fit. Proper fit typically requires measuring from the dog's collar to the base of her tail for length. Most garment's girth can be adjusted with velcro tabs, but could still be an issue with a barrel-chested breed such as a bulldog. Measurements are typically in inches.

Remember that a dog will never "diet down" into an outfit that's too small , or -- unless you're shopping for a puppy or a pregnant female -- "grow into" an item that's too big.

And one more thing--if you're handy with a sewing machine, you can make your own dog clothes creations.

Some ear's problems

The most common medical ailment is "OTITIS. " The root causes of ear trouble can run the full Moist Otitis:  This dog needs to see a veterinarian right away! spectrum from contact irritants such as occurs from soaps, pollens, grass or carpeting, to infectious organisms such as yeast and bacteria, to parasites such as fleas and ear mites.  Veterinarians further generally classify OTITIS as externa, media, interna depending upon which areas of the entire auditory system is affected. As a groomer you will see many cases of OTITIS externa and these will generally be either allergic otitis externa or microbial otitis externa.

Allergic otitis displays itself as reddened, inflamed ear tissues that feel warm (or even hot!) to the touch. These cases tend to be dry, and have only a mild odor with minimal build-up of wax, pus and debris.  An allergic ear looks red and inflamed.

On the other hand infected ears - microbial otitis - because of the damage the bacteria and yeast are doing to the tissues of the ear, the ear canal and other affected tissues become moist and purulent (the medical term for pus.)  That ear canal is a perfect incubator for microorganisms - dark, most, warm with a good supply of nutrients! If that ear canal sounds wet upon manipulation and has a foul odor, there is certain to be an infection present.

Always check with a veterinarian before plucking hairs from any ear structures that seem to be infected. Sometimes the ear problem requires sedation and cleaning.  And chronic, severe cases of infected and scarred ear tissues often respond well to surgery to open up the canal for better exposure to the drying effects of air.  Be sure to mention to the pet's owner to have the ears checked if you suspect Otitis is present. The longer it goes on, whether it's allergic or infectious, the more scar tissue forms and the more difficult it is to cure. And simple ear cleaners that work well to clean the waxy or oily ears won't touch an infection and may further irritate allergic ears.

Shaving the hairs close with a #40 blade can be of help (keep that blade flat to the skin surface - not at an angle!). If the ear structures have a buildup of crusts or debris, eliminating the hair prevents the hairs from trapping the exudate and allows better contact of medications and facilitates the drying effects of air.  So, in general, removing hair from infected tissues can be helpful. 

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Clipper Burns and Clipper Abrasions

Every successful and competent groomer on occasion has had an experience where a few days after grooming a 'dog it develops an extremely itchy, moist, scabby area that drives the dog and the owner crazy. These skin sores are often called Hot Spots. Hot spots (also called Moist Eczema) result from trauma to the skin surface either from a clipper blade scratch or from contact with a hot blade. A true "clipper burn" is a skin lesion that can occur due to a hot clipper blade contacting the skin.

A Clipper Abrasion is an actual scratching of the skin surface from holding the blade at the wrong angle to the skin or from using the wrong sized blade. The most common site for this problem is along the cheekbone and on the cheek.

Hot Spots (moist eczema) requires repeated cleansing and often oral antibiotics to hasten its resolution. Be especially careful with the clippers around the cheeks, it's just possible the sharp points on the blades are creating tiny scratches that become irritated or infected, then the dog scratches the area compounding the skin trauma and shortly after that you get a call from the owner!

This condition should be checked by a veterinarian. And don't be discouraged if you loose a client because of "clipper burns"... whoever they take the dog to next has had their share too! You won't know when it happens, but you'll find out a few days later.

As in any worthwhile endeavor, the fruits of your hard work will be recognized by customer satisfaction. You will have lots of repeat customers! And they will tell their friends. Your success will result in no small measure from your professional and knowledgeable assessment of the mental and physical and nutritional well-being of the pets entrusted to your care. Be observant, take good notes, and don't be reluctant to advise your clients about proper pet health care. Groomers are a vital link in the pet health care chain.
NOTE: Hot spots can result from inadequate rinsing, too. If any shampoo is not rinsed away completely and remains in contact with the skin for an extended period of time, a local skin infection can result.

The solution: Rinse thoroughly and dry the entire skin and coat before sending the dog home!

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Taking Care About Eyes

As a groomer you will have numerous opportunities to help your subjects by pointing out abnormalities to the owner or veterinarian.  Probably the most common disorder you'll see will be Epiphora - excessive tearing. 

 There are so many causes for the tears draining down the face that chapters could be written on just this topic!  Here's where your penlight comes in handy. Darken the room and shine the light along the edges of the eyelids and look for tiny eyelashes growing along the edges of the lids. If these tiny lashes are contacting the eye, there is the potential for serious corneal damage. Report this condition, called distichiasis, to the owner or veterinarian. Often the tiny openings, one in the inside corner of all four lids, will be under-developed or plugged up. Tear duct obstruction sometimes can be alleviated by using small amounts of an antibiotic called tetracycline. A veterinarian can evaluate tear duct flow under anesthesia.

Numerous other disorders such as entropion (rolling inward of the lid), follicular conjunctivitis, facial folds, or long hairs contacting the eye can predispose the dog to excessive or misdirected tears resulting in chronic wetness and a mucoid, crusty build-up on the face.

Clipping the hairs short if possible will make clean up or application of medication easier. Remember, though, to advise the owner to have the underlying cause determined by a veterinarian.  Mature cataract in teh eye of a Cocker Spaniel.

Inform the owner if you see cataracts in the eyes. Darken the room and shine your penlight directly into the front of the eye and look over the top of the light (as if you were aiming the light into the eye.) Deep in the very center of the eye the light passes through the pupil (the circular opening made by the colored part of the eye called the iris.) Just behind the pupil is the lens and the light should pass unreflected through the lens to the back part of the eye called the retina. If you see a milky or hazy object or reflective particles where the lens is, the dog may have some vision problems and you should let the owner know.

Be very careful about scratches on the corneas. Tearing and squinting are the most likely signals of corneal abrasions, and sometimes with the penlight directed at an angle, the abrasion or ulcer on the cornea is visible. Veterinarians will use a stain to highlight these areas.

Some helpful recommendations concerning skin ang coat

Groomers, by the very nature of the profession, have the best opportunity to evaluate the character of pets' skin and coat. Using your senses of touch, vision, and smell, you will be able to detect deviations from a "healthy skin and coat," and these changes should be noted in the pet's chart and personally conveyed to the pets' owners.

Normal touch: There will be a soft texture to the hairs and even in wiry coats such as in Airedales the character of the coat should be pliable and smooth.
Abnormal touch: The coat will be made up of dry, coarse, brittle hairs, some broken off, some very fine. The coat may be sparse and thinning or short and underdeveloped.

Normal appearing skin/coat: The skin will have a clean look to it and be free of scales, scabs and crusts. The coat should appear full, almost lustrous and have a soft look to it.
Abnormal appearing skin/coat: The skin will appear thin, dry and scaly or greasy. The coat will appear dull, lusterless or even dusty. It will have no "shine" to it and will have a harsh appearance.

Normal skin/coat: A healthy skin and coat won't have any smell to it. And even when dirty, will smell like whatever is making it dirty.
Abnormal skin/coat: An unhealthy skin and coat will have a rancid, oily odor; the odor is caused by superficial skin bacteria and their waste products breaking down the oils on the skin.

All skin surfaces have colonies of bacteria present. But an unhealthy skin surface harbors too many of the wrong kinds of bacteria. That is why many veterinarians recommend weekly shampoos with benzoyl peroxide for some dogs with chronic bacterial dermatitis. These types of shampoos keep bacterial numbers to a minimum.

The single most important determining factor in the healthy skin/coat equation is proper NUTRITION. No matter what else may be adversely affecting the skin/coat, such as allergies, infections, harsh environment, or parasites, the problem will be worse in a dog that is only barely meeting its nutrient requirements. And skin/coat problems are always less severe and occur less often in well nourished pets.   Dogs are meat eaters.  They will act, feel and look their best if fed aA much improved diet will clear up these dry, flaky skin conditions. diet whose first ingredient listed on the pet food label is MEAT, POULTRY.  Diets that are based on grains such as corn will not properly nourish dogs.

Always recommend to the customer that they seek a veterinarian's advice if you suspect a pet may have a nutritional deficiency. Be sure the customer understands that you are making an observation and merely suggesting that the owners may be helping their pet by having a veterinarian check something out.

The entire field of pet health nutrition is now only beginning to recognize the value and function of meat-based (poultry, beef, lamb) diets. Many well known brands of dog foods that have been around for years and whose foundation (the first listed ingredient on the label) is a grain such as corn, wheat, barley, or rice simply do not provide the health enhancing nutrients that meat-based diets provide.  As a professional groomer your suggestions to the pet owner carries remarkable credibility. It is your obligation on behalf of the pet and as a pet health care professional to become familiar with high quality diets. Most veterinarians have had only superficial training in pet nutrition and often that training has been provided by representatives of various dog food companies.

Always note on your client chart what the pet is being fed. If you detect a less than optimum skin/coat condition, be sure to discuss with the owner your concerns about the pets nutritional status.  Remember: if a pet doesn't look good, it probably doesn't feel good.

Some recommendations concerning nails

The nails are a good indicator of the pet's general state of health. Crooked, dry, cracking or pitted nails are a tip-off that the The Nail Trim (Pedicure). dog may have a fungal infection or be poorly nourished.

If you see abnormal nails, be especially watchful for areas on the skin where there may be circular, dry patches of hair loss. The dog may have "ringworm", a fungal infection (called dermatophyte), that requires oral medication to correct.What you see externally may indicate an internal abnormality in the pet.  And treatment entails discovering why the nails are diseased in the first place.  Treating diseased toenails may extend over a few months.

And it is very important to notify a veterinarian if there is any pus or bleeding from the nail bed. Be cautions yourself NEVER to get any bloody, purulent (pus) discharge into contact with a cut or scratch on yourself. A serious fungal disease of dogs and humans called Blastomycosis often will show up first a draining lesion at the toenail bed.

 We've all cut nails too short. It’s useful to use  the Quick Stop powder as a coagulant, but there are other quite satisfactory methods to arrest the bleeding. A healthy dog's toenail should clot on its own within 5-6 minutes, any longer than that warrants laboratory tests and veterinary analysis for clotting factors!

If you see large or overgrown nails that simple trimming won't provide proper nail set, have a veterinarian take a look. The dog may require a "deep pedicure" under anesthesia to cut the toe nails back close.

Broken nails need to be trimmed back to the fracture site, then a coagulant applied. Pulled nails, ones that have been torn from the nail bed and all you see is a bloody circle at the end of the toe, do require a veterinary check. Antibiotics may be indicated. 

Taking Care of The Dog's Mouth

It is a good idea to open the dog's mouth and check the teeth and gums. Be sure to pull the corner of the mouth back in order to visualize the molars. It's quite easy to detect oral problems by visualizing bleeding gums, chunks of brown plaque on the teeth or loose teeth and an odor that will knock you over! You'll be shocked at how many dogs have severe gum inflammation and infection (called gingivitis), loose teeth or even occasionally have cavities.   A healthy oral cavity is vital to the pet's optimum health. You will be doing the pet and owner a great service by suggesting a veterinary check-up for dentistry. You'd be surprised how many veterinarians overlook a thorough oral exam.  Dental hygiene is a very important topic and unfortunately it is often overlooked by veterinarians and groomers.

Some tips for healthy skin


Healthy skin is certainly a consideration for a well-groomed dog, and healthy skin begins with a good diet. Again, the choices are legion. The rule of thumb is thus: If your dog does well on the food you buy, if his skin and coat are healthy, if he has energy and enjoys life, if he is maintaining his optimum weight, if his intestines are working well, if the food is highly digestible and thus leaves little manure to clean up, keep on keepin' on. But if the dog's energy level is low, if his coat is dull and his skin dry and itchy or sore, if a vet check shows no thyroid or other medical condition to account for the anomalies, consider switching the diet or supplementing with fatty acids.

Grooming is essential for healthy skin, not so much for keeping it clean, but for making the owner aware of any problems that may be developing. Flea allergies can cause severe skin problems, so daily examination of the dog during flea season is a must. Contact allergies can also cause skin to break out. Irritated skin leads to scratching, which can open the skin to staphylococcus infections. An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure for the dog and the pocketbook the antibiotics for skin infections are among the most expensive medications, and the cost of treatment can be dollars a day for a couple of weeks or longer.

Skin irritations and infections can crop up overnight, so keep a close eye on the situation. Groom daily for fleas and ticks if Lad has had a problem. Use a fine-toothed comb to check for fleas, then flick the tiny insects into a container of warm, soapy water. Remove ticks with protected fingers and drop in a vial of alcohol. Treat the house for fleas as well; modern controls for these pests use genetically altered natural insecticides, growth inhibitors, and drying agents that are both environmentally friendly and less toxic to people and pets.

Daily Examination is Important!


Even if your dog doesn’t need daily grooming, check his or her thoroughly to make sure she has no cuts, sores, fleas, rashes, bumps, ticks, or hitchhikers in the coat or dirt in her ears. Remove fleas with a fine-toothed comb and drop them into a container of soapy water. Remove embedded ticks with tweezers or protected fingers and drop them in a vial of alcohol. (Grasp the tick body, rock it back and forth, then pull firmly.) Carefully remove vegetative matter such as grass awns, seed casings, or thorny twigs with fingers or comb.

During this daily exam, your dog’s feet and ears, look at his or her teeth, and feel for cuts or tumors.

Checking dog's ears

All dogs should have their ears checked periodically. Dogs with droop ears are especially susceptible to fungus and bacterial infections and should be checked at least weekly. Veterinarians can prescribe cleaning agents for ears to dry them out.

Infected ears can also lead to further complications. Not only is the dog painfully uncomfortable, he may cause a hematoma by breaking a blood vessel while shaking his head in response to the discomfort.

Start grooming with puppies


Good grooming habits begin with puppy care. All puppies should be taught to sit, stand, or lie down to have their bodies checked over and their hair combed.

Grooming provides bonding time. In the wild, wolves and other canines groom each other as part of the social interaction of the pack or family group. Dog incisors (the front teeth) are an effective comb; the little nibbles they etch on the bodies of pack mates stimulate the skin and have a calming effect. Puppy owners can also use grooming as pleasurable time with their new family member.