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Information Connection: Grooming Your Dog

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7 Most Frequently Asked Dog Grooming Questions & Answers

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 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 look for?

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.

 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 techniques.

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 easily.

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 cooperate.

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, 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

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