Brushing the teeth
Cleaning your dog’s teeth is extremely important because it prevents tartar build-up, which can cause painful gum infections, notes Davor Bobek, a cofounder at World Dog Finder. Bobek recommends giving your dogs specialised dental sticks or toys designed to support oral hygiene. In addition, it’s recommended that you clean your dog’s teeth frequently using special doggie toothbrushes (such as finger toothbrushes) and toothpaste designed just for dogs. “If your dog balks at having his teeth brushed, get him used to it by rubbing his teeth and gums with your finger,” Bobek suggests. “Then put a little of the toothpaste on your finger and let him sniff and lick it. Do the same with the toothbrush.” For older dogs, a special cleaning by a veterinarian may be required to handle tartar build-up.
Getting to the “end”
You know when your dog scoots along the floor on his butt? Well, this can actually be a sign that he requires a form of grooming known as “expressing the anal sacs.” A dog’s anal sacs are located on each side of your dog’s rear end. They can become inflamed, which can drive your dog to the aforementioned scooting, as well as scratching or attempting to lick at the area. Inflamed anal sacs can also cause fluid secretion and odour. You should not attempt to express the anal sacs yourself (unless you’ve been trained to do so by a qualified veterinary professional). If you believe your dog needs this form of grooming, call your veterinarian for assistance.
The nail-clipping debate
Doggie nails contain a blood vessel known as the “quick,” which, if nicked or cut, can lead to profuse (but not life-threatening) bleeding. For that reason, experts are divided as to whether dog parents should clip their own dog’s nails. No discussion of how to groom a dog would be complete without a little back and forth on the topic.
On the one hand:
“I’m personally not a fan of telling pet parents to trim their dog’s nails unless they’ve first practiced with their vet or groomer,” says MacQueen. If you’re not comfortable clipping your dog’s nails and you can’t get to a groomer, then call your vet to see if they can help.
On the other hand:
While trimming your dog’s nails might seem scary, it’s necessary to do, Kelly says, although she doesn’t recommend that pet parents use clippers. Instead, she suggests using a professional nail-filing tool. Before you attempt to trim your dog’s nails, make sure your dog is willing to let you touch his paws. In fact, you should initiate the process by physically examining your dog’s paws. Assuming he lets you, you’ll want to see if you can visualise the quick. On dogs with light-coloured nails, it appears as a pale pink “core” within the nail. If your dog has dark nails, or if your dog won’t let you examine his nails, you’re better off seeking veterinary assistance.