Grooming | PAWS Chicago



Grooming is a great opportunity for you to bond with your dog, while also providing him with the care he needs.

Grooming sessions should be fun, so schedule them when your dog is relaxed.

Until your pet is comfortable being groomed, keep sessions short—just 5 to 10 minutes to start. Gradually lengthen the time as it becomes routine for your dog.

You can help your dog get comfortable being touched and handled by petting him, including sensitive areas as the ears, tail, belly, back and paws. Most important, pile on the praise and offer your pooch a treat when the session is finished!

Your dog’s nails should just barely touch the ground when he walks. If they are clicking on the floor or getting snagged in the carpet, it’s time for a trim. If you need help, your vet or groomer can show you how. They can also help you decide which type of trimmer would work best for your dog. Use sharp trimmers specifically designed for pets. Start at the tip of the nail and snip a little. Look at the cut edge of the nail. Stop when you start to see pale pink tissue near the top. Avoid cutting into the quick, which looks pink under white nails. It contains nerves and blood vessels and is painful and will bleed easily if cut. The quick is difficult to see on dark nails. If the tip of the nail begins to bleed, apply pressure using styptic powder or a substitute such as baby powder, flour or cotton. Do not wipe the blood clot off the tip of the nail once the bleeding has stopped.

Remember to trim the dewclaw nail, which is located on the inside of the leg. Since it doesn’t touch the ground, it wears down less rapidly than the others.

Trim nails once or twice a month. The quick will lengthen if you don’t trim the nail regularly. Long nails can also cause traction problems or become ingrown.

Regular grooming with a brush or comb will help keep your dog’s coat in good condition by removing dirt, spreading natural oils, preventing tangles, and keeping skin clean and irritant-free.

Grooming is also a great time to check for fleas and flea dirt—those little black specks that indicate your pet is playing host to a flea family.

Different brushes and techniques are used for different breeds. Check with your vet to see what type of brush you should use, how often you should brush and what process you should use.

Dogs benefit from a bath approximately every three months. Bathing, especially with detergent type soaps, can disrupt the natural balance of the skin and the body’s own dermal immune system (bacteria and flora, oils, moisture etc.) Bathing can help if there's a problem but it can overwork the skin if there's not.

When bathing, use a mild dog formula shampoo (never human shampoo).  Murphy’s Oil Soap or vegetable oil based shampoos are better than detergents, which dry the haircoat of natural oils. Shampooing too often can over-dry the skin and remove natural immunity.

When bathing, follow these steps:

  1. Before the bath, give your dog a good brushing to remove all dead hair and mats.
  2. Place a rubber bath mat in the bathtub to provide secure footing.
  3. Fill the tub with 3 to 4 inches of lukewarm water.
  4. Put your dog in the bathtub.
  5. Use a spray hose, pitcher or cup to wet your pet, taking care not to spray directly in his ears, eyes or nose.
  6. Gently massage in the amount of shampoo recommended on the label, working from head to tail.
  7. Thoroughly rinse out all the shampoo, again avoiding the ears, eyes and nose.
  8. Dry your pet with a large towel. Don’t use a hair dryer.

Home dental care is the first line of defense against periodontal disease in dogs. The biggest weapons are a good diet and brushing. 

Ideally, you can brush your dog’s teeth once a day, but it still helps if you can get to it at least three to five times a week. Use a soft bristled toothbrush or a piece of cotton gauze wrapped around a finger and veterinary-approved dog formula toothpaste or baking soda and water. 

Make brushing your pet’s teeth a positive experience. First, get him used to you handling him around his mouth. When touching the mouth, put a tasty treat on your finger to make the experience positive for your pet. Once your pet is comfortable with this, begin rubbing the gums. Then gradually increase the time you spend playing with the mouth. 

Additional tools to help prevent dental disease include gels and rinses that are rubbed on the gums and treats such as bully sticks, yak milk bones, rawhides, tendon strips and raw bones.

Caring for your dog’s ears is an important way to help prevent ear infections and excess wax buildup. Routine cleaning and at-home examinations let you detect infections or other problems early. Prompt treatment offers a better prognosis, reduces the potential for chronic disease or hearing loss and gives your dog relief sooner. 

Ear cleaning starts with good general monitoring and grooming only if needed. Excess, dirty or matted hair should be removed from around the ear canal and the ear flap. To clean the inside of your dog’s ears use a dog formulated ear cleaner. After swimming, applying an astringent ear clean can avoid moisture buildup and infections in the ear. 

To clean ear, use an astringent dog ear cleaner, pour it into the ear and then rub the ear gently to move the cleaner around in the canal. Allow your dog to shake off excess moisture. Use a dry cotton ball to wipe out any excess, but do not wipe hard, and do not put anything into the ear canal. This is important to avoid pushing debris further into canal or injuring the ear drum. The ear tissue is sensitive, so always be very gentle.

If the ear canal looks abnormal, clean only the outside and consult a vet. 

How often you will need to clean depends on your dog’s breed, hair coat, activities, age and the amount of earwax he produces. Some dogs rarely need ear cleaning, while others may need more frequent cleanings, especially those who swim or get their ears wet regularly.

Training Classes

Practice makes perfect, and your pooch will get plenty of practice in training classes. Learn about PAWS Chicago’s training classes and enroll today!