Grooming Mistakes That Every Dog Owner Makes
Veterinarian Reviewed on April 30, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Every dog owner is bound to a make a mistake whenever they groom their own dog at home, especially if they do not know what they are doing. As there is always the possibility of making a mistake, dog owners should train their dogs from a very young age to stand still whilst being groomed. By teaching a dog that being groomed is not such a bad thing, the dog will be perfectly fine later in life when they have to stand still on a groomer’s table and lift one paw up to have their nails trimmed.
However, some dog owners acquire their dogs when the dog is much older than a pup and may have never been groomed before. If this is the case with your dog, caution should be stressed above all else!
When grooming your dog at home by yourself, you should be extra careful as you never want to injure your dog in anyway; because if your dog is nicked or made to be in pain during a grooming session with you, your dog may never trust you again when it is time to groom him or her. The mere sight of seeing you holding a pair scissors in your hand will send your dog running!
Proper dog grooming should be seen as an exercise in dog and human bonding and never anything sinister.
An important part of grooming your dog is to cut his nails. However, this should not be done in haste! Take your time when cutting your dogs nails because if you are in hurry you will hurt him. Just make sure that the nail clipper you use are very sharp such as those found in spring style dog nail clippers. Avoid using a Dremel or other time of motorized tool unless you have experience in using that tool, as it is very easy to overcut your dog’s nails or for the Dremel to cause a lot of heat to the nail bed.
Before you start to cut your dog’s nails, look for the nail quick. If your dog’s nails are white or fair in color you should be able to see the quick quite clearly as it will show up inside the nail as a pink line.
But, if your dog has black or darker colored nails, you will only be able to see the quick on the clipped part of your dogs nail as it will look like a black circle.
In either case you do not want to cut that quick as it will bleed and cause your dog a lot of pain. But, if you do accidentally cut the quick, you should promptly apply pressure to your dogs paw and apply styptic powder to the nail itself. If the bleeding does not stop, then you will need to take your dog to your veterinarian immediately.
One of the most common mistakes that every dog owner makes when grooming their dog at home is getting too close to their dog’s skin whilst shaving their dog. For this reason it is important to remember that all dog hair clippers can and do leave a painful razor burn that has the potential of becoming infected if not properly treated right away. Make sure that you carefully inspect your clippers before you use them on your dog and replace any blades that are missing, dull, or have broken teeth.
Immediately stop shaving and apply first aid if you do accidentally give your dog a razor burn whilst grooming. You can do this by placing a dog approved antibacterial solution on the wound after it has been cleaned very well. It is best to keep an eye on this wound and to contact your veterinarian immediately as soon as it starts to look like it is becoming infected.
Getting shampoo, conditioner, or other cleaning chemicals in your dog’s eyes is another mistake that is easily made by dog owners who groom their dog at home. These shampoos, conditions and other chemical cleaning products can cause your dog’s eyes to sting painfully. If you do accidently get shampoo (or anything else) in your dog’s eyes, you should immediately wash the shampoo out using clean water and dab the corners of your dog’s eyes with a clean wash cloth. Periodically take a peek into your dog’s eyes to see if there are any signs of infection.
When grooming your dog it is better to have them leashed than to have your dog be totally unrestrained. This is very important, especially if you are bathing or grooming your dog outside. If not properly restrained your dog could either run away into a nearby street, or pull away and get hurt with the grooming brush or razor. If your dog is afraid of water, it may be a good idea if you place a muzzle on your dog to protect both you and him.
With things that could go wrong, perhaps it is best if your dog’s grooming is left for a professional dog groomer, who has extensive training in dog grooming, to do. This is especially true of very long haired dogs like Leonbergers and Poodles. However, if you strongly feel that you can handle grooming your dog on your own and you have a very good rapport with your dog, there is no reason why you should not groom your dog at home by yourself. Just make sure that you follow the safety tips listed above.
Photo Credit: The Moonstone Archive
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan