Being a first time dog owner can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. Adopting a puppy or dog is a great way to experience the joys of owning a pet. There is nothing that can compare to the trips to the park, swimming in a lake or at the beach, and those cozy moments lying on the couch or your outside lounge chair with your dog. T
hese are great moments; however, to keep your dog healthy and happy, it also needs hygienic care.
Professional grooming is a great option, especially if you have a long-haired dog breed, but as a first time dog owner, nothing beats getting to know your dog personally than by doing its hygiene by yourself.
It’s not about saving money — it’s about bonding. This is a special time for you to connect with your new dog and introduce hygiene to it before it with a busy and loud dog grooming salon.
This is obvious, but is also important. There is a misconception that dogs need to be bathed weekly – this is not true. In fact, frequent baths can actually irritate your dog’s skin. When you first introduce your dog to the bath, you may either wash it in your bathtub or outside in a large steel bucket. Whatever method you choose, the importance is to slowly introduce your dog to the water.
Start by dipping your dog’s feet slowly into the water. Don’t fill the tub or bucket too deep. It should just cover your dog’s paws. Start washing from the upper body, to the legs, then the top and underneath the head. You don’t need fancy shampoo. What works great, although a bit pricey, is the natural food store’s organic shampoo for humans. It is made of natural ingredients that will not irritate your dog’s skin and will keep your dog smelling fresh for a longer period of time.
Most dogs love to be brushed. Dogs can be brushed daily to help release and distribute their natural skin oils throughout their fur. If you have a short-haired dog, a brush with soft bristles is perfect. You don’t want to use a wire comb or stiff metal-like bristles, as this can scratch the skin of your dog, bringing on another problem.
If you have a long-haired dog, daily brushing with a large comb is recommended. Long hair tends to get tangled easily, so sitting next to your dog or placing your dog on your lap and combing its fur slowly can be very soothing to your dog. (It can calm you down, too!) If you notice a matted portion of hair, take some baby oil and rub it into the matted area and slowly comb through. This way you can ensure you are not hurting your dog.
Often neglected are a dog’s teeth. Really, how often would you think of brushing your dog’s teeth? Unfortunately, not being attentive to dental care for your dog is the leading cause of plaque buildup, infected gums and gingivitis in dogs. It doesn’t take much here, and with repeated cleaning, your dog will be so used to the routine, that it will not try to squirm or bite you.
All you need is a regular human toothbrush, preferably a hard bristle type, a cup with some baking soda and water. You may also use hydrogen peroxide instead of water if your dog needs an extra good cleaning. It is also great for removing bacteria that can cause disease. Dip the toothbrush in the mixture and slowly brush each tooth of your dog. No rinsing is needed, but it is nice to offer your dog water after this routine. You can repeat this everyday if you choose, or at least once a week at the minimum. You may also use doggie toothpaste if you prefer.
Dogs get allergies and dried mucous in their eyes from time to time. Don’t let this go unattended, as it can cause your dog to develop itchy eyes or even an eye infection. On the days that you wash your dog, you can also take a clean, unused small cloth dipped in warm clear water, and gently wipe your dog’s eyes from the inside out. Never wipe from the inside in, as you will be bringing debris and germs into your dog’s eyes. Ensure that you wash the cloth before its next use.
If you don’t have a clean cloth available, you may also use a cotton swab dipped in clean water to gently clear mucous and dirt from your dog’s eyes. This procedure is better for small dogs or dogs with small eyes.
If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, you definitely want to inspect and clean your dog’s paws daily if possible. It is so easy for your dog to step on something sharp outside, whether it’s thorny flowers or weeds, sharp rocks, or tree branches. If you begin checking your dog’s paws when he is young, you should have no problems. Dogs are sensitive in their feet, and some do not like their paws being probed.
Have your dog lay next to you, maybe even giving it a little treat. Pet and hug your dog until it is comfortable. Slowly inspect each paw, closely examining between each toe. Many times there will be something lodged in the paw, such as a splinter, that you can easily remove with sterilized tweezers. After removal, clean your dog’s paws with rubbing alcohol and rub an antibiotic lotion on the spot to ensure no infection develops.
Grooming is a great time for you and your dog to bond. Your dog may not even realize that it is getting the full cleaning treatment. It may just think that this is its special time with you. Proper grooming also shows your dog that you have genuine love for it. You may even want to show this love of your dog to others through purchasing doggie checks. Everyone will then know you are serious about being a responsible dog owner!
Kim is a freelance writer who has worked with dogs for years. She has cared for and trained numerous mix-breed and pure-breed dogs. Every dog she has owned was part of the family. Kim enjoys sharing this love for dogs with others through her personal dog checks from www.personalchecksplus.com.
Photo credit: Shehan365