Grooming and hygiene tips for your new puppy
No matter the breed or coat length of your puppy, grooming is a very important part of ownership. Caring for their nails and coat and making sure they have good hygiene is key to their overall health and wellbeing, and is particularly useful for identifying any irregularities that could be early signs of disease.
How to bathe a puppyThe frequency of baths will vary according to the texture of their coat. Close-cropped hair should only be washed if dirty, short-haired puppies need to be bathed twice a year on average and long-haired puppies need to be bathed approximately every three months.
If your dog likes swimming, its coat should be rinsed afterward. Particles from river and seawater remaining on the coat may cause irritation, and careful rinsing will prevent this.
Start the bathing process by brushing the coat thoroughly to get rid of any knots and mats. After this wet the coat all over and apply the shampoo, working it into a lather, while taking care that it doesn’t get in the dog’s eyes or ears. Shampoo should only be used if your puppy requires it, either for sanitary reasons or as part of hair and skin treatment. Make sure the shampoo used is suitable for dogs in order to maintain a healthy coat. Lukewarm water should be used, along with a special shampoo for puppies to avoid irritation or an imbalance to their skin's natural pH.
Allow this to act for a few minutes, then rinse with plenty of water. It’s a good idea to rinse the head last, as the dog will likely want to shake its head dry.
Drying your puppy after a bathAfter the bath, wipe your puppy down vigorously and keep it in a warm room until it’s properly dry. In the summer, the alternative is patting a puppy down in the backyard or taking it for a walk, as long as it doesn't like rolling around in mud. A hairdryer can be used if the dog is happy with that, but care should be taken not to burn the dog and the hair should be brushed at the same time.
How to clean tar from your puppy's coatIt's important to note that if the dog gets tar on its coat, oil-based cleaning products shouldn't be used as they are highly toxic. Apply vegetable oil to affected areas, wait a few minutes for it to dissolve the tar, then bathe the dog.
Trimming a puppy's nailsDogs have two types of nail—dewclaw and toenails—both of which grow constantly. Toenails should wear down naturally, but if they grow too long they need to be clipped.
All puppies need proper nail care. Generally puppies don’t need to have their nails trimmed but if you can hear the noise the nails make on the ground, you can clip them. Ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the best techniques.
Brushing and combing your puppyAs with humans, a dogs hair will grow and die. Outdoor dogs shed their coat twice a year (spring and fall) corresponding to the changes in daylight. Indoor dogs are not as affected by changes in light, so they shed hair throughout the year, with two periods of increased shedding in spring and fall. Regular brushing and bathing will help remove loose hair. The frequency and the type of equipment used will vary depending on the nature of the coat.
Brushing puppies with close-cropped hairWhile close-cropped hair does not require regular grooming, it does need to be brushed occasionally. Dead skin and hair is loosened by brushing against the hair with a rubber brush. The debris can then be removed by brushing in the direction of the hair over the whole body with a bristle brush. Finish by adding sheen to the coat with a damp chamois cloth.
Grooming puppies with short or medium-length hairThese dogs should be brushed more frequently—at least once a week—due to the density of their coat, which is comprised of both an undercoat and a topcoat. Use a slicker brush, working against the hair to loosen as much dead hair and skin as possible and strip the undercoat. A bristle brush can then be used in the direction of the hair to remove the debris.
A wide-tooth comb can be used on the tail and paws. The coat of coarse-haired dogs needs to be stripped four to five times a year with a stripping knife. This is not at all painful if done properly, working in the direction of their hair.
Brushing puppies with long hairLonghaired coats require daily brushing. For example, brushing an Afghan Hound can take up to an hour a day. Use a slicker brush, working in the direction of the hair, to loosen knots and mats. Because the hair is long, this may pull the skin, so care should be taken to avoid hurting the puppy.
Using a bristle brush on dogs with silky coats, like Yorkshire Terriers and Afghan Hounds, will add sheen to the coat.
A wire brush can be used to remove impurities from the coat of dogs with an abundant undercoat, like Rough Collies.
A wide-tooth comb can be used to untangle hair behind the hocks.
All grooming tools should be cleaned and stored in a dry location after every use. Keep wire brushes from rusting by wiping them well and rubbing them with a rag soaked in vegetable oil.