Grooming Tips

Keeping your pet's coat clean and mat-free is an important part of dog ownership, and a gift that you can give to your furry friend. Many dogs and cats love being brushed, in part because they seem to realize that this process is good for their health. In addition, the grooming period is a great time to give your pet an overall health check, looking for irritated skin patches, painful spots, lumps, or other problem spots. And last but not least, grooming is a fabulous way to bond with your pet and express your tender loving care.

Before you begin brushing your dog, make sure you're using the right kind of brush. Brushes come in three basic types: the bristle brush, the wire pin brush, and the slicker brush. Bristle brushes are appropriate for all breeds of dogs, but they vary greatly in terms of bristle length and spacing. Depending on your dog's coat type, you may need a softer or firmer brush. Check the notes on the brush packaging or ask your vet, groomer, or local pet-store owner for suggestions.

Once you have the right brush, you're ready to begin combing. The most important thing at this point is to take your time and enjoy the process. Most dogs love being brushed, since the brush massages their skin. Let this be a gentle bonding time with your dog, rather than a hurried, rough experience. If you pull too hard, ripping through snags, your dog will quickly learn to associate the brush with pain and won't want to sit for brushing. If you're gentle, on the other hand, your dog will want to be brushed as often as you're willing to do it.

When you encounter snags, try holding the snarled lump of hair tight with one hand while you comb it with the other, to keep the brush from pulling on your dog's skin. You might also work from the bottom of the snag upward, making slow headway through the snarl. Be sure to comb out the problem areas: behind the ears, around the collar, near the tail, between the back legs, and underneath the front legs. Unless your vet or groomer has instructed otherwise, always brush with the coat's grain. If your pet has long hair, long strokes work best; short strokes are better for shorter-haired dogs.

Bathing is best done after brushing -- this helps the shampoo work better and it also keeps down the amount of wet hair. You can bathe your dog outside or indoors, in a bathtub, large sink, laundry tub, or portable pet tub. If you bathe your dog outside, be sure not to use cold water from the hose ñ the water should be lukewarm, both for the dog's comfort and to help the shampoo do its best work. Do not use human shampoo on your dog; use a dog shampoo

Get your dog thoroughly wet all over, taking care not to wet the eyes or ears. Apply the shampoo from neck to tail, working it gently down to the skin. Rinse and decide whether you need to shampoo a second time. Be sure to rinse well, washing the shampoo off the armpits, from between the legs, and from between the toes. For short-haired dogs, use a towel to rub your dog dry (many dogs love being dried with a towel). Long-haired dogs should be combed to avoid tangles (and not toweled dry). Be sure to keep your dog warm while the hair is drying, and don't let it outside until its coat is completely dry.Looking for more information and other great articles about camping with pets? Visit
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