By Dr. John Rappaport,
Although it's often
overlooked, grooming is an important part of your dog's health and wellness
program. Here are some of the most frequently asked dog grooming questions
our experts at
PetPlace.com are asked by their 600,000 visitors per month:
1. When should I start grooming my dog?
Start regular grooming when you first bring your dog home. Make it a part of
his or her routine. Purchase a good-quality brush and comb, and get your dog
used to being handled. Praise your dog when s/he holds still, and soon s/he
will enjoy the extra attention. Some breeds have special grooming needs, so
ask your vet or a professional groomer for advice on particular grooming
equipment necessary for your particular dog.
2. How often should I brush my dog’s hair?
Routine brushing and combing removes dead hair and dirt. It also
prevents matting, while giving your pet a healthier and shinier coat.
Your dog's skin and hair coat reflects his/her
overall health and nutritional status. Many dogs maintain a healthy skin and
hair coat with minimal assistance. Some long-haired or curly-haired breeds
require regular brushing. For most dogs, a good brushing once or twice a
week will do the trick.
3. How often should I bathe my dog?
Your dog’s need for bathing depends on its breed, skin type, and hair coat.
It also depends on your preference and how dirty your dog gets. Bathing your
dog every month or two isn't unreasonable, but some dogs need more frequent
cleanings. A good rule of thumb is to bathe your pet only when the coat gets
dirty or begins to smell “doggy.”
When bathing your dog, make sure to rinse all the soap out of the coat. If
there are persistent problems with scratching or flaky skin, s/he may need a
special medicated shampoo. But this may also indicate a skin problem that
your veterinarian should examine.
4. What skin problems are common among dogs and what should I
Skin problems– including fleas, ticks, mites, allergies, and infections–are
common among dogs. Most conditions are manageable with early detection and
treatment. If you notice excessive scratching, hair loss, or flaky skin,
contact your veterinarian. If your pet is continuously exposed to fleas and
ticks, speak to your veterinarian about products to minimize the parasite’s
effect on your dog’s skin. Remember that consistently poor hair coat with
lots of skin flaking may indicate a deeper medical problem.
5. I have problems cleaning my dog’s ears. What’s the best way to
clean his ears and how often should I do this?
Ears also require cleaning, especially in dogs
with oily skin or allergies. This is a delicate task and is probably best
left to your vet. However, if your dog is easy to handle (and there is no
chance that you will be bitten), you can learn to do this chore yourself. To
remove excessive wax and debris from the ears, consider an ear cleaning
every two to four weeks. Ask your veterinarian about products you can use at
home, and be sure to ask for a demonstration of proper ear cleaning
6. I have problems keeping my dog still so I can trim her nails. Do you have
any nail trimming advice?
While clipping nails is a painless and simple process, it takes practice and
patience to master the skill. When you muster enough courage to trim
the nails of your dog, you’ll need a good nail clipper, a nail file to rub
any sharp edge away, and a styptic stick to stop any subsequent bleeding
Ask your vet to show you the correct
technique, and then get started by getting your pet used to having his/her
paws handled. Once you start using the clippers, go slowly. Try clipping
just a few nails in one sitting. Maintain a regular schedule and be
persistent. Your pet will eventually develop patience and learn to
7. What is the most important thing to include in my dog grooming kit?
The most important thing required in your grooming kit is your own
confidence. It will form and take shape within you and grow in time.
So, go ahead and start grooming your dog. If you can overcome your
hesitation, beautiful and rewarding experiences are waiting for you.
Grooming your dog properly helps to keep him or her healthy while building
an important bond between you and your pet.
About the Author:
As Founder of
PetPlace.com, the definitive Web destination for PetCrazy people, Dr.
John Rappaport provides you with a library of 8,000+ veterinarian approved
articles to keep your dog living a longer, stronger, healthier, and happier
life. For a wealth of free information, including dog grooming tips and
information on dog grooming supplies and techniques, go to