Whether you use a professional groomer or do it yourself, regular grooming is important to your dog's coat and skin, and to its overall health.
While you are grooming your dog, you can look for any changes or abnormalities in your dog's physique. Mention your observations to your vet. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can prevent minor problems from becoming serious health issues.
If your dog becomes accustomed to a grooming routine when it is a puppy, it will be more likely to enjoy being groomed as an adult. Ask your vet, breeder, or groomer which grooming tools, such as brushes, combs, and stripping implements, are best for your dog's fur and skin.
One of the benefits of grooming your dog yourself is that you become well-acquainted with your dog's body, making it easier to notice changes in appearance. Here are some things to check:
- Eyes. Your dog's eyes should be bright and clear without tearing or discharge. Watch out for red, inflamed, or cloudy eyes -- they can indicate infection or injury.
- Teeth and gums. A healthy dog should have clean teeth and gums. Unpleasant breath odor, swollen gums, and brown or yellow teeth are signs of dental problems. Your vet can show you how to brush your dog's teeth.
- Ears. Dogs with thick, long ears or ears that stay close to the head are more susceptible to ear problems. Inflamed ears, strong odor, and head-shaking and scratching are signs of an ear infection. Ask your vet to show you how to clean your pet's ears.
- Lumps. Examine your dog's body. Check for lumps under the skin, rashes, bald spots, sores, and flaky skin; if you find any, go to your vet. Lumps could be harmless fatty deposits or harmful ticks or tumors.
- Fleas. While observing your dog's body, part his hair to the skin and look carefully from head to tail for fleas. You might see fleas moving about or you might see black dots, about the size of a poppy seed, which are flea droppings. If your dog has fleas, your vet can suggest a strategy to control them.
- Paws. Examine your dog's footpads for cuts, punctures, or foreign objects (such as small twigs, stones, or thorns). In the winter, use mild soap and a moist, warm cloth to remove salt, snow, ice, and mud.
Continued on page 2: Bath Time