Avoiding Coat and Skin Problems – Grooming dogs

Grooming at regular intervals will keep your dog’s coat and skin in good condition and prevent many problems. Even hairless breeds require some grooming for healthy skin. Establish a grooming schedule during puppyhood and stick to it throughout the dog’s life. Initially, keep the sessions brief and make grooming a pleasurable experience. If the puppy grows to dislike the basic grooming routine, a simple procedure will become most difficult.

How often to groom depends on the dog’s coat type, breed, and the purpose for which she is being groomed. Show dogs, for example, usually require daily grooming. Longhaired dogs should be brushed frequently to prevent the coat from tangling and matting. Certain breeds require braiding or tying up, plucking, and clipping. For these dogs it is a good idea to consult a breeder or professional pet groomer.

These are some useful grooming tools. The ones you will use most will depend upon your dog’s breed and the nature of her coat.

  • Grooming table. It should be solid with a nonslippery surface. Adjust the table to a height at which you can work without bending. Use for all grooming sessions that last more than a few minutes.
  • Bristle brush. This is a brush for all breeds. It removes loose hair and surface dirt and dresses the top coat. A brush with natural bristles pro- duces less static electricity.
  • Pin brush. This brush has long pins protruding from a rubber cushion. It’s especially effective for longhaired breeds.
  • Slickerbrush.Thisisarectangularboardwiththin,bentwireteethand a handle. A slicker brush is used to remove loose hair. Brush in short, deep strokes. This brush may be too harsh to use on shorthaired dogs.
  • Hound glove (palm brush). Intended for shorthaired breeds, this is a glove or pouch that you slip over your hand and then use to wipe down. It may have small rubber nubs or a sisal pad that does the actual groom- ing. The glove removes dead hair and gives a polish to the coat.
  • Comb. A standard wide-tooth metal comb with smooth, round teeth is used for areas where the hair is short and to hold up hair for scissors. A fine-tooth comb is used to unsnarl fine hair. Many utility combs, such as the Greyhound comb, combine both features: the teeth are one-quarter inch (6mm) apart on one side of the comb and one-eighth inch apart (3mm) on the other. A flea comb is a very fine-tooth comb with 30 to 36 teeth per inch.
  • Scissors. These are used to trim the coat, trim long hair on the feet in most breeds, and cut out mats. Dogs with long hair may need the hair trimmed around the rectum. The tips should be blunt or rounded. Thinning shears are scissors with spaces between the teeth that thin out hair but don’t cut all of it.
  • Rake.Long-andshort-toothedrakesareusedtoremoveloose,deadhair during shedding. They will damage healthy hair if used too vigorously.
  • Mat splitter. This single- or multi-bladed tool is used to break up mats into smaller and smaller strands.
  • Electric clipper. This is used for trimming or to shave down a matted coat. Different size blades are used on different types of coats. Care must be taken not to cut the dog’s skin.
  • Nail clipper. Nail clippers come with either two cutting edges or a sin- gle blade that clips down like a guillotine.
  • Dremel tool or nail grinder. A Dremel can be used to carefully grind nails down to an acceptable length.
  • Nail file.Handy after cutting nails to round the edges.
  • Towel.Toweling short haired breeds will remove loose dead hair. A wipe with a damp towel may be all the grooming your hairless breed needs. Rubbing with a towel tends to tangle long hair, though.

It is important that the bristles on the brush and the teeth on the comb be the right length for the dog’s coat. For example, if the coat is thick and the bristles and teeth are too short, the top coat may look smooth for a time but the undercoat will mat. Eventually the top coat becomes involved and the dog may have to be shaved. On the other hand, if the dog has a thin undercoat, grooming with tools that have long bristles and teeth can scratch and injure the skin.