Dogs: Grooming Puppies


How to teach your puppy to accept grooming.

  • Why is it so important?
  • Type of brush to use.
  • Problems to watch out for.
  • Benefits of having a dog tat is easily handled.

Grooming a dog that doesn’t fidget is a pleasure, and can be done quickly and thoroughly to reach all the awkward areas that can easily become matted. If he won’t stand still then the task can become difficult and can result in large mats of hair developing. Daily grooming sessions will enhance your relationship with your dog. As the leader of the pack it is your prerogative to choose when and where to have these sessions. If there is a running battle whenever the brush appears then it could damage your relationship. All coats require the stimulation of a brush to remove dead hair, regardless of the length of coat. The most important reason however is to reinforce the bond with your pet. As well as brushing the coat, grooming allows you to dry off muddy paws or towel dry wet hair, so teaching a pup to stand still is important.

For a well-behaved dog, visits to the vet clinic are less stressful for all concerned. The vet will need to examine the dog to reach an accurate diagnosis and provide the correct treatment. If he behaves badly there, then every trip becomes worse than the last, and he starts playing up as soon as he reaches the surgery car park.

A well-behaved dog is far more amenable to give medication to. Few dogs go through their life without needing treatment of some sort, including pills, bandaging or ear drops. This can become a nightmare if the dog won’t accept the owner’s attention, as the condition will not improve and become more costly if he needs to be brought to the clinic each day for the vet or nurse to give medication.

A well-handled puppy makes for a well-socialised dog. Wherever you go you will always come across people who are unaware of the best way to approach a dog. Young children will reach out to the dog first, blissfully unaware of its temperament, and adults will reach down to give a pat on the head. If the dog is not used to being handled, he may react unpredictably with a growl or even a quick snap, both of which are unacceptable.

Dealing with awkward situations :

Should a difficult situation come about, your dog needs to trust you enough to help him. For example if he gets a thorn in his pad, or a stick caught across his teeth, or a leg caught in a fence, or falling down a hole that he cannot climb out of. If he won’t let you handle him when he is not in pain, what is the chance that he will when he is in pain? Finally, stroking a dog is a great pleasure and relives the stress of the daily grind, as well as teaching your puppy how to be handled and making him a well-balanced individual.

Whilst carrying out daily grooming, it enables you to spot ant health issues early. Choose a time when the pup is resting, not manic, offer praise for being well behaved and use hand massaging followed by a gentle brush. Pay attention to the long haired feathered regions as the pup gets older. Watch out for any hairless areas, lumps or bumps, and any area of skin inflammation. You may notice evidence of fleas – either the parasites themselves or tiny specks of dark gritty material that may be flea droppings.

Check out the corners of the eyes for discharge or redness. If the discharge is sufficient to cause tear staining on the fur below the eyes, or if it changes from clear and watery to thick, gungy and discoloured then contact the surgery.

Check out the ear flaps and top of the ear canal. Normal ears should not smell or be waxy. If they are they may just need cleaning or require veterinary attention. A small quantity of wax may be cleaned with cotton wool and a proprietary cleaner available from the surgery, but don’t poke anything down the ear canals themselves.

Check out the teeth and gums. The teeth should be shiny and white with no redness along the gum line. The breath should not be smelly. By 6 months of age the small pointy canine milk teeth should have been shed and replaced by the permanent canine teeth. Sometimes however the milk teeth are not pushed out and remain to distort the growth of the other permanent teeth. If you notice this then contact the surgery. As the puppy gets older, he may develop plaque deposits around the teeth and gums. Initially this is invisible, but as it progresses the teeth may become discoloured and develop an odour. This progresses to hard caked tartar on the teeth and inflammation of the gums – gingivitis. Gum infection may be painful, but your dog is very good at masking this sign, as in the wild state this would mark him out as prey rather than predator. In addition infection of the gums may result in loss of teeth, or allowing bacteria to invade the body through the tonsils, which generally results in repeated episodes of being unwell. Products are available at the surgery that will reduce, soften and eventually remove this tartar.

As with all health problems, prevention is better than cure. Certain dry foods and specifically designed dental chews will help to prevent this. Some raw vegetables will help mechanically to keep the teeth clean. But the gold standard, if your pet will tolerate this, is to brush the teeth regularly. How often do you brush your own teeth? Why should dog’s teeth be different? We appreciate that this is not something you want to do every day, but 3-4 times weekly will keep your dog’s teeth in good condition. Animal toothpastes are not minty and don’t froth like human ones which dogs find unpleasant, but instead have a savoury flavour which dogs enjoy. The younger you start brushing their teeth the better they will tolerate the process. The toothpastes contain enzymes that break down invisible plaque and eliminate the bacteria that cause tartar and gingivitis to develop, without having to brush vigorously. The nurses at the clinic are happy to demonstrate how to brush your puppy’s teeth and guide you through the dental care products that would be most appropriate for your situation.

Next check out the feet. You are looking for mats of hair between the toes, and foreign bodies such as thorns or pieces of grit. The nails should just touch the ground when the dog is standing normally. Long claws feel uncomfortable and may catch in carpets etc. If they are not worn down by regular walking on hard surfaces they may need clipping. Do not cut them too short to the quick, or they will bleed and become sore. Our nurses will help to show you this, or we can perform the task for you at an appointment. Remember the dew claws sited a bit further up the leg. If you find anything of concern then we are happy to advise you over the telephone initially, to determine whether there is anything we need to see and check over.

This information is provided for information purposes to our registered clients. It is the individual opinion of veterinary surgeons within the practice. It should not be relied upon as an alternative to a clinical examination and diagnosis by a veterinary surgeon. If in any doubt please contact the practice for further advice

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