Number one rule: Unless advised by your veterinarian, please don’t bathe you dog with dog shampoo more frequently than every 4-6 weeks! Brush and wipe! Brushing helps stimulate the skin and oil glands and there’s plenty of natural, biodegradable wipes or make your own to keep them clean. Over washing with dog shampoo (or any shampoo or soap) will just result in stripping the oil out of the coat and they’ll get smellier faster! Note however that there’s some skin conditions or infections that do require more frequent washing with medicated dog shampoo so follow your veterinarian’s advice.
Which dog shampoo? Firstly, ensure you’re using a dog shampoo AND conditioner. If normal skin there’s lots of options on the market, treat it like your own shampoo and conditioner and avoid the nasty chemicals and additives like you would yourself. I recommend diluting the dog shampoo around 1 part to 4 parts water and dripping it down their back to help disperse evenly otherwise they get a huge concentration in one area and its hard to get it all the way down to their legs! Always be carful of the face and ears and try to avoid allowing water to get into the ears and ensure the outer ears are dried well after bathing. Also make sure you dry the coat really well of breeds that are prone to hot spots (bacterial infections). Always brush before a bath.
Which brush? There are four main brush types useful for brushing dogs:
- Slicker brushes (fine, short wires together on a flat surface). Remove hair and loose dirt. Not appropriate for long-haired breeds however, useful for other coat types.
- Rakes. Designed to remove the undercoat, they’re good for breaking up matts and tangles. Not ideal for curly coats. Good for non-shedding breeds (e.g. Brussels Griffon) and double coats (e.g. Border Collie).
- Bristle brushes. The most gentle and versatile. Good for all coat types and stimulate the skin.
- Pin brushes. Similar to bristle but the pins tend to be longer so good for long-haired dogs.
Nail trimming is a scary topic for a lot of owners. To be honest it’s not a favourite job of many vets either! But that is usually because the poor dog has had a bad experience through their life. Ask your vet or groomer to show you how to trim nails or look up videos on how to do it – I will post one soon! If in doubt do less and keep it positive with lots of praise and reward. If you’re too worried perhaps look at investing in a Dremel or a coarse nail file.