There are things every dog owner knows they have to do with their pup such as feed them, walk them, give them water. Then there are monthly tasks- heartworm, flea & tick prevention, and sometimes grooming fits into this equation for some breeds.
Just in the last five to ten years we’ve learned so much more about the care of our furry friends and what’s expected of us owners on our end. There’s a lot to keep up with! Some pups do fine with maintenance that’s done while they are at the groomers, but others need more care in between. Whether it be your preference or the vet’s recommendation.
A few things I hear a lot when I get ready to groom someone’s dog is:
1) the pups ears are really bad, and the owner wants us to clean them extra well.
2) Their pet has tear staining or eye gunk that won’t let up and they want to know what to do to make it stop.
3) The teeth are stained and breath is bad and they want it taken care of.
These are all things that a groomer can work on for you! However, to see the best results in any of these grooming maintenances, you should keep your dog on a regular grooming schedule at home.
Cleaning ears, brushing teeth, rinsing eyes and, if you’re able to do it safely, clipping/filing nails. The nails we will briefly go over because clipping your dog’s nails at home can be very stressful to you and your pup. If you can’t do it safely without them jumping and flailing around- you should seek a groomer or vet to do it for you.
How to Groom Around Your Dogs Eyes
Starting with the eyes, the first thing you usually notice about your furry friend. All eyes can get eye gunk, tear staining, or irritation. It’s most noticeable on lighter colored dogs, but they can all get it. There are a few things you can do to help with this and prevent it from irritating the skin, or worse, matting to the hair around the eyes.
Firstly, if your pup has the overactive tear gland and has a lot of discharge or tearing coming from the eye, plan on using a lukewarm wet washcloth either every morning or every night. Use the wash cloth and gently rub it around where any tearing or staining occurred. If some has already managed to get hard or solid, purchase a flea comb and use it very carefully use that to comb out anything. We recommend using the Safari’s Pet Flea Comb.
Always brush away from the corner of the eye. Use the washcloth until you’ve removed any tearing or discharge. On white or very light colored dogs, this will help significantly, but it may not 100% prevent the staining. There is a product called Angel Eyes that you can buy here. This is a powder that you measure based on your pet’s weight, and you add to their water. It works to slow down the overproduction of tearing in the tear glands. It does not stop it completely because your pup’s tear glands need to produce a certain amount of tearing just like our eyes do. It will slow down any excess tearing, and make it easier for you to clean your pet’s eyes yourself and it will definitely help prevent excess staining.
You can also purchase an eye rinse to use. They are usually made up of water with some saline, and it produces a steady stream of the rinse, which you carefully direct into your pup’s eye from a distance back to not poke the eye. This helps rinse any dirt or debris away from your pup’s eyes that may be causing the excess tearing. They sell wipes that you can use around your pup’s face if you don’t want to use a washcloth, make sure they are hypoallergenic and not scented. If your dog has a history of eye infections or other issues check with your vet before doing any of these steps to make sure it’s a good fit for your pup!
How to Maintain Your Dogs Teeth and Eliminate Bad Breath in Your Dog
Teeth and breath are a common problem people have, especially once their dog gets older. Regular at-home maintenance of the teeth at a young age can prevent some of these issues from ever getting bad enough to require a dental. Of course, some dogs are more prone to bad breath, tartar, and other teeth issues than others. Talk with your vet about how often you should brush your dog’s teeth. Some vets may say every day, others may say a few times a week.
Dog Toothpaste and Dog Dental Sprays
I have a few recommendations of toothpastes and dental sprays that I have used before and have liked. Some dogs can be very sensitive to toothpaste and sprays, so if you have a sensitive pup, like always, check with your vet first. Firstly, no matter what toothpaste you get, the finger brushes are the way to go. They’re abrasive enough that they will help remove germs and build up, without the bristle-y feeling that an actual toothbrush gives off that makes dogs dislike the process. Some enzymatic toothpaste can be used with just your bare finger, but I still like the finger brushes to give that extra abrasiveness to clean better. We recommend Pet Republique Finger Brushes which you can buy here.
If your dog does not like you messing with its teeth and mouth, have a veterinarian or groomer do it, but give them a heads up that your dog isn’t a fan. Arm & Hammer makes an enzymatic toothpaste, so does Sentry. Most of these toothpaste have flavors, normally peanut butter or chicken are the most enticing. This way, your pup thinks they’re getting a treat. More information on them can also be found there.
They also sell dental sprays, which help freshen breath and can contain other beneficial enzymes. The sprays are wonderful and convenient, just be sure to avoid the eyes and give your pup some warning of the spray. If you need to do a test spray in the air- away from their face of course- do so. Then spray into the mouth, coating the teeth and gums as well.
Another great product that many veterinarians recommend are greenies; they are a dental chew that as your dog chews them, they help break down germs and build up on your dog’s teeth, as well as help freshen breath. They have a number of vitamins in them as well. Be careful to get the right size for your dog, as you do not want them to swallow one. Again, these are just products I’ve used before and had clients who have used and loved them. You can order Greenies here. Your vet may have better and more specific recommendations for your individual pet’s needs. 🙂
Cleaning Your Dogs Ears & How to Prevent Ear Infections
Cleaning ears and preventing ear infections is one of the most important things. There are a number of breeds that are extremely prone to ear infections, but all dogs can have sensitive ears. If your pet shakes its head too much or itches and scratches it ears excessively, any number of problems can occur. Regular ear cleaning and maintenance at home can save a lot in vet bills and can help the overall comfort of your pet.
Itchy ears can also be caused by allergies, so cleaning the ear can remove any allergens that may be contributing to the discomfort. There are dozens of ear cleaners online and in-store you can use to clean your pet’s ears, as well as numbing powders for plucking. I’m only going to go over ear plucking lightly. Every vet and groomer has a different opinion on if it should be done, and sometimes their opinion is based completely on your individual pet. Meaning what they suggest for one pet may not be what they agree with for yours. There are a few powders sold online and in store.
You would use the amount directed and pour it into the ear, and massage the ear around to make sure it coats all of the hair. The power helps numb the ear and also makes it easier to grip the hair to remove. Curly coated dogs are the ones that need this done the most, but other coats, of course, can too, if you choose to do it. You simply pull the hair out once the powder has sat for a moment and coated all of the hair. Most pets do not mind the feeling at all if the numbing powder has coated the inside of the ear well. If you do this regularly, there shouldn’t be much hair there. If there is a lot of hair or your pet is very sensitive and it seems to hurt them, stop and have a veterinarian or experienced groomer do it.
The benefits to plucking the hair would be that the ear can air itself out more and prevent moisture from hiding down in the ear. Dirt and debris can’t stick the hair, so if you are plucking the hair, you must be cleaning the inside of the ear as well. With no hair there to collect dirt, debris, and germs, the inner ear is more exposed. Cleaning the ears regularly balances the removal of hair if you choose to do it. Always ask your vet to determine if ear plucking is right for your pup.
The next step, whether you pluck or not is always the ear cleaner. The Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner for Dogs & Cats can be purchased here. This cleaner can be used on a cotton ball and then swabbed on the inside of your dog’s ear. It has a low PH but still removes most build up in the ear and can help prevent germs and debris from negatively affecting your pup’s ears. The Bayer Expert Care Ear Cleaning Rinse is also great for doing this very same thing. (With a cocker spaniel mix of my own who is prone to ear problems, I can say these two products are amazing for dirty ears and preventing issues).
You can buy ear wipes that you can use to clean the skin around the ear and down into the ear little ways. It’s important with any of these products not to go farther than you can see into the ear. Leave this to a veterinarian because it can be uncomfortable and sensitive for your pet and if they move- it can be dangerous.
Simply put, grooming helps keep your dog happy and healthy. It also gives you and your dog bonding time that is set aside just for the two of you and helps you to save on veterinary or grooming bills in the future. So don’t delay, start applying regular grooming suggestions mentioned in the article for your dog.