What are the most important components of routine dog grooming?

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Answered by: Gisele, An Expert in the Dogs - General Category
Routine dog grooming is important to the health and well-being of any canine. In addition, routine dog grooming is not only essential in the appearance of the dog, but is also crucial to the dog's well-being. Bathing a dog on a regular basis keeps its skin clean and irritant free, while removing bacteria and excess hair and dander. In addition, dog owners who have allergies may fare better when their dogs are routinely groomed. Many dog owners who are allergic to their pets report a decrease in symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes and coughing when their dogs are bathed on a routine basis.

Although professional dog grooming is essential, dog owners can groom their dogs at home. It is very important that the nails of the dog be trimmed on a regular basis. Failure to keep the dog's nails trimmed can result in paw pain and an abnormal gait. Though it is not difficult to trim a dog's nails, if improperly done, can result in a soft tissue injury and excessive and prolonged bleeding. Unless the dog owner is experienced in cutting a dog's nails, it should be left up to a professional dog groomer or the veterinarian. Clipping a dog's nails should be done by trimming small portions of the nail at a time, making sure that the quick is not nicked. If the quick or other tissue is accidentally nipped, pressure should be applied to the area. The pads of a dog's feet are exceptionally vascular and can bleed profusely at the slightest injury.

Brushing the dog's coat is also an essential component of daily grooming. If the dog's coat is not brushed on a daily basis matting can occur, which, if left untreated, can cause pain to the dog's skin. A slicker brush is an effective tool for not only brushing the coat, but also for smoothing the coat. If matting does develop, a tool to remove the mats may be required to break apart the mass. If unsuccessful, the mat may need to be cut out of the coat altogether. Applying a dog coat conditioner can make brushing the coat easier and it can also help moisturize the dog's skin and keep it from becoming dry and itchy.

Cleaning the dog's ears should also be part of its grooming routine. Keeping the ears clean will discourage the growth of bacteria and help prevent infection. It is important to note, however, that cleaning objects such as cloths or cotton balls should never be inserted too deeply into the dog's ear because this can cause damage to the ear drum and even promote temporary or permanent hearing loss. Dogs who have long, floppy ears are prone to ear infections, and when symptoms of incessant scratching, redness, odor or discharge occur, the veterinarian should be notified. Treatment for a canine ear infection includes topical or oral antibiotics and an antibacterial ear cleanser. In addition, failure to treat an ear infection can also result in the formation of scar tissue and can cause discomfort if not properly treated.

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