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How To Groom Your Puppy At Home

We’re pawsitive your puppy is your favourite cuddle buddy; there’s nothing sweeter than snuffling into their soft fur and soaking in that feeling of your shared love. Alas, your energetic little fur baby might have acquired some questionable scents, muddy paws, long nails, matted fur or fleas, and you realise it’s time to give their puppy grooming regimen a bit of attention.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of grooming must-dos, along with a few tried and tested tips from experienced pet parents:

When to start grooming your puppy

The earlier, the better. Once you’ve brought your pup home, you should regularly check their paws, teeth and ears, and run your fingers or a very soft brush along their fur. Make sure it’s at a time you’ll be relaxed and make it fun with lots of love, attention and treats. This will ensure your pup has positive associations with dog grooming.

Dog Grooming At Home

Brushing

You should gently brush your puppy’s fur everyday if they are a medium-haired or long-haired breed. This removes itchy strands of dead hair, promotes a clean and healthy coat by distributing the skin’s natural oils, stimulates and gently massages the surface of the skin, removes dry skin and allows you to check for fleas and ticks. If you leave a portion of fur unbrushed for a period of time, the unshed hair, dead skin and dirt can all become entangled in a mat. This matted fur is itchy, painful and can cause a plethora of skin problems, so a thorough brush down is very important. Further, daily brushing becomes a lovely opportunity for you to bond, and it helps you become familiar with your dog’s body so you can visit the vet if you notice that something’s changed.

Pet Parent Tip #1: Let your curious puppy sniff and adjust to the brush first. Pick a special part of your house for puppy grooming so every time you take your pup there, they know what to expect. At the beginning, keep bite-sized treats like Pedigree Tasty Bites or Tasty Minis handy to reward good behaviour.

Bathing

Unless your playful little furball has got something stinky or muddy all over them, you shouldn’t bathe your dog more frequently than once a month to ensure you don’t strip the natural oils off their coat. In the winter, when they need these protective oils even more, you should be even more infrequent. During the bath, make sure you spend extra time massaging and praising your puppy.

Pet Parent Tip #2: If your foodie pup is restless during their bath, you can make a paste of their favourite food or use the gravy from Pedigree wet meals and smear it on the tiled wall of your bathroom. As your pup is busy licking it, you can bathe them peacefully! Of course, make sure the wall is squeaky clean before attempting this.

Feet and Toes

Check your puppy’s paws after each walk to make sure they haven't got any pebbles or other debris stuck there. If your fur-baby’s got muddy paws, wipe them clean with a doggy-safe wet wipe or with a moist towel. Make sure to dry their feet thoroughly afterwards.

Clip your puppy’s toenails with a clipper designed specially for dogs. You can do this every two weeks or whenever you can hear their toenails clicking on the ground when they walk. If left unattended, it can become painful for your pooch to walk. Nail clipping can be tricky to do at home, so if you haven’t done it before or are unsure how to, it is best to visit a professional groomer or your veterinarian.

Pet Parent Tip #3: Dogs have a sensitive nerve running into their toenail. Clipping too much may cut it, which can be extremely painful. However, putting a light under a puppy's toenails will show you exactly where the quick is, because it will be more opaque than the translucent nail.

Ears

Your puppy’s ears may pick up dirt or may be prone to infections. If you notice any smell, discharge or more wax buildup than usual, contact your vet. Ear infections are incredibly uncomfortable for your dog and might even cause permanent hearing problems if left untreated.

Pet Parent Tip #4: Leave ear cleaning to the vet or groomers because dog’s ears are sensitive. Besides, doing it wrong or overdoing it may cause irritation in the ear canal which can lead to an infection.

Teeth

Every alternate day, use your finger, a little piece of soft cloth wrapped around your finger or a doggy toothbrush to brush your baby’s pearly whites. Human toothpastes cannot be used because they are designed to be very foamy and need to be rinsed out. Your dog can’t do that, so it’ll go right into their tummy and might cause irritation. Instead, use a dog toothpaste which most pet stores and vets stock. Apart from keeping their breath smelling fresh, regular oral care also promotes overall health, since plaque buildup can cause gum problems and other serious issues.

Pet Parent Tip #5: Every once in a while, treat your pup to Pedigree Dentastix, an X-shaped chew treat that is scientifically proven to help reduce tartar build-up in a dog’s teeth by up to 80%.

Dog Grooming in a Salon

If you’re a bit uncertain about bathing your dog and trimming their nails, or if they have developed matted hair, it’s probably best to take them to a salon where an experienced professional can take care of these issues.

Talk To Your Vet

Your veterinarian is your biggest ally in keeping your dog healthy and happy. You should talk to him/her if you notice any changes while you’re grooming your dog, or if you've got any questions and concerns.

These are some specific issues you should be vigilant about:

Itchy Skin

This could be due to varied causes such as acral lick dermatitis / lick granuloma, acute moist dermatitis / hot spots, canine atopic dermatitis / atopy, mange, ectoparasites, food allergies, folliculitis, pyoderma, yeast infections or ringworm.

Ectoparasites

If your dog is suddenly itchy after being outdoors or playing with another dog, it’s best to check them for ticks and fleas. Fleas are tiny, pesky, blood-sucking insects that can cause intense itching in allergic dogs. Flea infestations can cause severe skin disease and puppies may also develop anemia from the blood loss. Ticks, on the other hand, are larger and can be easily spotted. They attach to the skin and bloat as they drink blood. While skin reactions are also possible, they’re much more problematic because they cause diseases like Tick fever and Ehrlichia.

Talk to your vet about a prevention and treatment protocol for managing fleas and ticks and they’ll advise you on the options available and what best suits your dog’s lifestyle. Apart from that, regularly washing your dog’s bedding and sweeping under and behind the furniture will ensure that these critters will have fewer hiding places.

Ear Infections

Excess yeast or bacteria in the ear canal turn your puppy’s ear red, itchy, swollen, and painful. You’ll notice them scratching their ears a lot, and you might notice debris, discharge, and/or a foul odour. Ear infections can occur alone or along with other problems such as allergies. Your vet is your best bet to figure out which it is and how best to tackle it.

Regular dog grooming at home is the only way to spot many of these painful and uncomfortable diseases early, so be sure to take time out to lavish care on your pup’s coat, skin, paws, nails and teeth. Of course, it’s an extremely enjoyable experience for both you and your dog, and it helps strengthen a lovely, lifelong bond.

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