Every dog needs a good bath to wash away all the oils, dirt, and grime that are associated with a happy puppy’s life. However, there is more to grooming than just some bubbly water and a decent brush; depending on the breed, grooming can be very ornate taking hours to complete.  Whether your dog needs his paws checked and nails trimmed, or he is in for a standard styling trip, grooming is an important responsibility dog owners should not take lightly.

Beyond Vanity: Perhaps the notion of grooming does not immediately strike one as a “necessary” aspect of dog care. For some, grooming may seem like a lazy pet owner paying someone else to do their dirty work by washing, and styling their puppy’s coat. However, giving special attention to the both the dog’s coat and different areas of his body, has been known to directly improve a variety of troubling health concerns.  Grooming helps ward off pests like ticks, fleas or topical parasites that easily lodge themselves in canine coats. The deep cleansing bath, combing and blow drying will decrease the skins allergens, agitations, itchiness and dryness which cause distress to the dog’s fur. Giving special attention by wiping a dog’s ears and eyes, and keeping the hair around them short will also help fight any infections or bacteria that could develop. Dogs that have their teeth regularly brushed seldom struggle with gum disease, bad breath or decay; and dogs that receive treatment on their paws are more likely to avoid unsanitary build up, infections, soreness and swollen feet.  If you have children in the house, routinely killing the germs your dog may be bringing into the home will also protect your children from being exposed to bacteria. Another important factor is that a dog with clean fur is more likely to be cuddled and played with than a dirty dog; therefore grooming helps boosts a dog’s emotional health as well. The long and short of it is, dogs who regularly visit the groom tend to have fewer ailments or infections than dogs that do not.

Grooming Treatments: Most groomers offer several packages which include any or all of the following: oxygenated baths with the customer’s choice of shampoo, coat conditioning, blow drying, coat brushing, and de-matting, hand-touched hair trimming and sculpting, paw treatments like buffing and nail clipping, ear cleaning & eye cleaning, tooth brushing, anal gland expression, fragrance spraying, and sometimes a bow or bandana added when it’s all over!

Bathing: Many groomers employ an oxygen-infused bath for the dog whose energy level seems low, or who may need their skin to be revitalized. There are also a variety of shampoos to suit your dog’s coat and skincare needs. Dirty and smelly dogs can use scented deodorizing shampoo; dogs with sensitive skin can enjoy gentle herbal baths or oatmeal-based washes; shedding dogs can use special medicated anti-shedding shampoos; and dogs with white fur can use brightening/whitening soaps to give their coat extra brilliance.

Combing and Brushing: Combing through fur after a bath can be difficult if the groomer/owner has not first used conditioning wash or spray on the coat.   Though a meticulous task, combing is an important part of grooming, since it will keep the fur from being matted, and potentially harboring bugs, parasites, or collecting dust and dirt. Professional groomers will often brush with multiple combs to first loosen dirt and dead skin from the surface, then using a bristle brush will remove the excess grime, and finally a light cloth will polish the puppy’s coat.

Clipping & Styling: Haircuts and trims will vary breed to breed, depending on the kind of look the dog own prefers. For example, some poodles are allowed to grow long shaggy coats, while others are puffy and prim, groomed to standard poodle perfection. Yorkies and Shih Tzus can have long, silky coats, or short clean cuts. Other breeds will need the hair on their faces trimmed, like the long “beards” which sometimes pick up food; or the hair on their heads trimmed away from their eyes. Another popular grooming technique is called “sanitary shaving” which involves extensive trimming between the dog’s legs and underbelly to keep his fur hygienic and to guard him from soiling his coat.

Grooming at Home: Some pet owners prefer to do their own bathing, nailing clipping, ear and eye wiping at home, particularly if their dog is more of a low-maintenance breed. Trimming is also easy to accomplish, if the owner has a reliable pair of clippers, and is patient and persistent to the task.  While these treatments can be done regularly at home, it would be wise to augment the routine grooming with a visit to the professionals from time to time. This will ensure that your dog is receiving the quality care and attention he needs to each specific area of his body, should any agitation arise.