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Dog Grooming Products

Even though it’s very important to have your dog groomed every 6-8 weeks if they grow long hair, there are some dogs who don’t necessarily need to go to a groomer. As a groomer, I have several dog grooming products I trust and have experience with for several years. I think it’s excellent for dog owners to be able to clip their dog’s nails, clean their ears, and give baths. I think it is vital that owners brush their dogs.

Brushing is very important for all dogs whether they have short or long hair. Nail trims should be done on a monthly basis for most dogs. Ear cleaning and bathing can be done as needed, in fact, I don’t recommend bathing your dog more than once a month. Most dogs don’t even need it that often unless they rolled in something smelly outside, went swimming, or got muddy. A dog’s natural oils are important for a healthy coat and bathing more than once a month can strip those oils and cause the hair to be more coarse and the skin to become dry and itchy. Always use a dog shampoo because it balanced for the pH of their skin. Never use something harsh like Dawn dish soap unless you have extreme amounts of oil (like it got dumped on your dog) or for tiny puppies and kittens who aren’t old enough for flea shampoos/treatments.

Nail Care

The very best brand of nail clippers that I’ve used is Miller’s Forge. My first pair was the large orange handled ones I bought as a bather about 12 years ago. They have continued to easily cut even the thickest nails and stay sharp. I’ve never had to replace them. They also come in medium and small depending on how big your dog is. I use the medium nail clippers for most of the dogs I groom. For really small breeds like chihuahuas, I generally use cat nail clippers.

The best way to learn to clip nails is to be shown, and I am willing to show anyone who comes to me. White nails are easy enough to see the pink quick, and you want to clip a little before that so you don’t make the nail bleed. On dark nails, it’s not as easy, but you can usually see where the nail starts to curve downward and you can clip right after the start of that. You can take small bits off each time until you read what looks like a black dot in the middle of the nail. I did make this video that I posted to YouTube to show a nail trim with grinding, but I plan to make a better quality one soon. If you do accidentally make the nail bleed, you can use flour or cornstarch to stop the bleeding, or get something like this Kwik Stop Styptic Powder.

Grinding the nails can help make them even shorter while also taking off the sharp edge created by clipping the nails, so I do both if the dog allows it. Some dogs are scared of the noise the grinder makes and some prefer the grinder to nails being clipped. The Dremel 7350-PET is not the exact grinder I use, as it’s no longer available, but the Dremel brand is the best, in my opinion. I’ve had my grinder for several years.

Ear Care

Not all dogs need ear cleaning on a regular basis. It is included in my grooming services whether the dog comes in for just a bath or a full groom. Some dogs are more prone to ear problems, especially dogs with floppy ears and/or those with a lot of hair in their ears. Sometimes ear problems can actually be caused by allergies or infection so it’s important to talk with your vet if your dog seems to be scratching or rubbing his/her ears a lot. Your best bet for ears that are otherwise healthy is to get an ear cleaning solution made for dogs and use a cotton ball.

You can either apply the cleaning solution to the cotton ball and wipe inside the ear, being sure not to go further into the ear than you can see, or you can squirt a small amount of solution into the ear canal and wipe it with the cotton ball. The second method works best if you also rub the base of the ear. Your dog will shake his/her head after this, but that will help remove the fluid as well. Note: Do not put a large amount of solution in the ear, if you can’t judge the amount, just use the solution on the cotton ball method. Never go into the ear farther than you can see you risk damaging the ear drum.

The solution I currently use is Nurtri-Vet Ear Cleanse partially because it’s affordable and contains aloe vera for soothing ears. Because I groom very few dogs now due to my back problems, I buy this exact size and it has lasted quite a long time.

Dental Care

Some may not realize that dogs need dental care too. A few products I recommend for this would be the Vet’s Best Toothbrush and Toothpaste kit. Enzymatic toothpaste is going to work the best and this style of toothbrush is much easier to use over dog teeth than say a small human toothbrush. Toothbrushing ideally would be done daily but should be done at least a few times a week to have any benefit. A water additive like Arm & Hammer’s is something you can try to help with tarter and plaque buildup. I personally have not tried it, but this is a pretty trustworthy brand.

Another option to help are dental sticks such as the Dentalife chews. The chewing action can scrap loose tarter off and helps with bad breath. Chewing is excellent for getting out energy and dental care. For chewing, you can also get kneecap beef bones, I think these work well for scraping tarter off teeth and are safer than some other bones. I have had issues with rib bones and others that become hollow after the marrow is gone and have splintered and even gotten stuck on one of my dog’s jaws.

Bathing

As said above, a dog should not be bathed more than once a month and really only as needed. The natural oils are important for healthy skin and coat. If your dog constantly smells, there may be either a yeast or other type infection on the skin. Itchiness can be dry skin, fleas, mites, or a problem like allergies. If your dog itches a lot, talk with your vet and they can look over the skin and let you know if further testing is needed. Also note, if your dog is matted, please take him/her to a groomer, bathing your dog while matted is going to make it worse and the mats are painful.

Shampoo, conditioner, and face wash

The shampoo that you use for your dog should be a dog shampoo. The Isle of Dogs brand is excellent and used by many groomers. I currently use the Isle of Dogs Puppy Shampoo for all dogs because it is tearless and gentle. It has a light scent, not perfumy like some. There are also options for a conditioner. Another brand I love is Ikaria. My favorite of theirs is Renew which smells like Ylang Ylang and Juniper, but is a nice mild scent, again not perfumy. All their scents are mild and the shampoo works very well and for different purposes. They also offer a conditioner and face wash. A face wash is great for dogs who have beards and get them dirty, as well as for cleansing around the eyes for dogs who get tear stains. Even being tearless, be careful not to get anything into the eyes.

Bathing Aids

Something that may help you when bathing your dog is a suction cup with short leash that you can put in your tub to keep your dog in it. A lot of groomers will use something like this if they don’t have another type of set up. Another bathing helper is a rubber curry comb if you have a short haired dog. This can help remove loose hair and massage the skin. You can also use it on a dry dog for brushing. I don’t find that these work well on longer haired dogs, however.

If you will be bathing your dog yourself most of the time, I recommend getting a shower head with a hose like this one. It helps so much to be able to spray the dog, be able to stop the water while you shampoo without messing with the water temp, and it also has pretty good water pressure. I use the exact one linked! The last helper may not be something every dog owner wants to invest in, but if you want to bathe your small to medium sized dog, you can purchase this Free Standing Bathtub that sits in your tub. The dogs are then at your level so you don’t have bend or kneel. I, again, use this exact one.

Brushing

All dogs need to be brushed, even short-haired ones. Not only does it spread the natural oils across the skin and coat to keep it healthy, but you need to remove the loose hair so they don’t become matted. Even dogs like Huskies, who don’t necessarily have long hair, can become matted as the loose hair clumps together tightly. Even dogs who are taken to a groomer on a regular basis should be brushed at least a few times a week. Very long-haired dogs need to be brushed daily just like people brush their hair every day. If you can’t maintain the coat of a longer-haired breed, your groomer can do a short hair cut every 6-8 weeks to keep the coat manageable.

There are a variety of brush types and what you use depends on the dog’s coat. Long-coated breeds like Yorkies and Shih Tzus need not only brushing with a slicker brush but combing that can get out smaller tangles. Very short-haired breeds like Boxers may just need a rubber curry comb run over them a few times each week. Double-coated breeds like Huskies and Newfoundlands could use a combination of brushes and combs such as slicker brushes, a Furminator de-shedding tool, a rake, and a metal comb. Below are images of each type I recommend so you can easily see what I’m talking about and they are linked to their respective Amazon pages.

Slicker Brush
Furminator Deshedding Tool
Rake
Metal Comb
Rubber Curry Comb