Grooming essentials for dog owners
By Khurram Aziz
There's an ancient link between man and his dog, which continues to live through our age. For both, it is an enriching relationship which brings with it constant companionship and indefatigable loyalty.
But those embarking on the journey of dog ownership are often in for a rude awakening. These animals have many idiosyncrasies and bring with them their own personalities that can come as a shock. What's more, caring for a dogs is hard work. And it's not just about training, exercise and nutrition.
Whether long haired or short haired, your dog needs grooming and bathing on a weekly basis - if not more. This guide is designed to help new dog owners, and those already with their hands full with a canine in the home, to do what's best for their pet.
Bathing your dog
Unlike cats, dogs don't clean themselves. Over several days of playing inside and outside the home, your dog's coat will get dirty and smelly and will require washing once a week. This is a big commitment and you need to do this properly otherwise bath time could become a huge fight with your animal.
The temperature of the water should be around 37c which should be comfortable for most types of dogs without causing distress. Start by washing your animal's head, ears, and neck first, to prevent any fleas taking refuge there while you clean the rest of the body.
Adding vinegar to the water can minimize any shampoo residue left on your dog's coat after you bathe it. You can also dip cotton balls in vinegar and use it to plug your pet's ears to stop shampoo getting inside. Once bath time is over, be sure to rinse your pet thoroughly with clean water. This website has great tips on making your own homemade doggie shampoo.
Grooming your dog
Aside from washing your dog, your animal also needs grooming. Grooming sessions should always be fun, so be sure to do them when your pet is relaxed.
Initially, grooming should only take five or 10 minutes, until your animal gets used to being brushed and fussed over. Then you can spend more time making your animal look perfect.
Grooming has more than aesthetic uses, however. It helps remove dirt, spreads natural oils and keeps the skin clean and irritant-free. It's also a good way to keep fleas and ticks in check.
For dogs with short hair, you only need to brush once a week using a rubber brush to loosen dead skin and dirt. This should be followed by a bristle brush to remove dead hair and then a quick polish with a chamois cloth to make your animal's coat shine.
For pets with slightly longer, more dense, fur, you should use a slicker brush to remove tangles followed by a bristle bush to catch dead hair.
Finally, if your dog has a long, luxurious coat, this will require daily attention. You'll need to use a slick brush every day to remove tangles followed by a bristle brush. You'll also need to trim the hair to stop it growing over the eyes and feet. This website has great tips for grooming long-haired dogs.
Dealing with fleas
Lastly, making sure your animal is free of fleas and other infestations is imperative for any dog owner. Like most things, prevention is better than the cure, and bathing and grooming your dog can go a long way to making sure your dog doesn't catch any of these blood-suckers.
If your pet is unlucky enough to have fleas, there are simple steps you can take to get rid of them. For a more detailed breakdown, you can check several websites online on how to get rid of fleas. These can involve both natural cures as well as chemical shampoos you can get from your vet.
Washing your dog with apple cider vinegar, lemon spray, or brewer's yeast and garlic are just some of the tricks you'll find online. Another, more esoteric one is to place a bowl of soapy water next to your animal while it sleeps at night and then shine a light on it. Apparently, this draws the fleas to the water and drowns them. However, each of these techniques have variable success rates and you might have to try several methods before you find the right one.
For a more drastic approach, your vet can prescribe oral medication that will kill the fleas, but this may come with side-effects for your dog. The same may be true for flea shampoos, flea collars and spot treatments.
Khurram Aziz is a freelance writer and entrepreneur with over 10 years' experience in publishing. Please feel free to add him on Twitter @khurramaziz1981. Read more stories by Khurram Aziz.
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