Brushing your dog’s teeth is one of those chores that everyone knows they should do, but many avoid. The dog fusses, you struggle, and then abandon the whole idea.
It’s well worth working on though, and not just for the obvious benefits of cleaner teeth and fresher breath. Brushing regularly allows you to evaluate your dog’s oral health and notice any changes before they become big problems. When you are consistently looking at your dog’s gums and tongue you will see if they are paler or dryer than usual, which are signs of anemia or dehydration. You will notice changes in his breath, such as a sweet smell that may indicate diabetes, or foul odor that can be indicative of an infection. Checking gums for recession or redness, and seeing how much plaque build up is forming can help avoid costly extractions.
Regularly handling your dog’s face also makes administering meds easier, since the dog is used to having fingers in his mouth, and can even aid in those times when you have to take something away from him.
The key is always to go slow and make all handling a positive experience for your pup. Use a meat-flavored toothpaste and plenty of crunchy treats. Don’t feel like you have to do a full brushing the first few times, you will work up to that as he becomes more comfortable. Simply letting him lick toothpaste off the brush is a good start. If your dog has a hard time call us! We can help with handling exercises to make the process easier and before long it will be a snap to get those chompers clean.
A variety of grooming concerns start to crop up as our dogs age. Incontinence or lessened bladder/bowel control leads to messy hind ends, eye discharge often increases, and beards are harder to keep clean as dental health declines.
Trips to the groomer become more difficult. Standing for long periods of time is hard for arthritic backs, and having feet lifted for scissoring can make achy joints sore. Senior skin is more delicate and prone to brush burn, which makes picking out mats less tolerable.
For all of these reasons, I often suggest short cuts for our senior friends. Taking coats down short means less brushing, either in the salon or at home, and eliminates the possibility of painful mats. Closely clipped back ends are much easier to keep clean, and tight muzzles reduce smelly build up that is offensive to sensitive canine noses.
Going short allows you to monitor changes in any lumps and bumps, and lets you spot new growths right away. It also lets heat therapy and pain relieving massage to be more effective.
Our old friends are much more comfortable with short cuts, and any temperature concerns can be addressed with a cozy sweater or warm coat.
Fido’s Gray Dog Grooming is well set up for our senior pals with a low tub and ability to groom from the floor if your dog is unable to balance on the elevated table. For appointments, or to talk about how we can make your dog comfortable and clean, please call or text Sarah at 248-854-5540
Every step of putting Fido’s Gray Dog Grooming together was taken with an eye on the comfort and safety of the dogs that come to visit us, but did you know there are several things you can do to set your dog up for a successful groom before it’s time for his haircut?
First, come say hi before it’s grooming time! Bring Fido in to eat a treat, scope the space, and meet me before I need to put him in the tub. Starting with a low key visit helps dogs feel more comfortable in the salon. Scheduling a nail trim or a brush out is also a good first visit that doesn’t include the intensive handling of a full groom.
Does your dog get anxious in new situations? A calming supplement like ProQuiet or melatonin might help take the edge off. If your dog takes medication for anxiety, time the dosage around his appointment. This goes for pain medication, as well. Giving his regular pain pill in advance of the visit will help preempt the soreness that can come from the gentle manipulation of lifting paws and moving limbs. Speak with your vet to see if an additional dose is advised before or after the groom.
Exercise before the appointment is also advised! A dog who has burned some energy off will feel calmer.
When it’s time to drop Fido off, make a low key exit. After we chat about what your dog needs that day, say goodbye calmy and go without a dramatic farewell. I know you may feel guilty leaving him or nervous about how things will go but I promise your dog is in safe hands with me! A big goodbye worries your dog, who wonders why you are upset. Almost every dog is fine within minutes of their person leaving, and I let the nervous ones acclimate for a bit before putting them on the table.
Finally, keep up on brushing at home and make regular appointments! If every visit with me includes dematting or a shave down your dog is going to dread the sight of our building because it means they’re in for a lengthy visit. Frequent visits keep your dog in better shape and make the experience faster and more pleasant for him.
A matted dog is more than an aesthetic issue. Tight mats pull at the skin, effect mobility, and can even cause injury if left unaddressed. Let’s look at the areas where fur commonly tangles up and talk about how to prevent it!
Neck: Collars mash long fur down, and friction causes it to mat. Silky coated dogs can get “ball mats” behind their ears from their collars riding up. Take your dog’s collar off daily for brushing.
Armpits and groin: these areas are often neglected during brushing because they’re hard to get to even on a cooperative dog! Keep these areas clipped clean, you only see them for belly rubs anyhow!
Sanitary areas: under the tail, around genitals, and the “pants” of long-haired pups can get pretty yucky. These are also areas to keep clean, short, and neat. If you like fluffy fur on your dog’s backside be sure to brush it!
Beards and moustaches: food gets stuck, then the dog scratches at it which smashes more fur into it. Add a trip to the water bowl and you have a big, stinky mess of a beard! Remember how powerful your dog’s nose is; if his face smells bad to you imagine how much stronger that scent is to him! Comb your dog’s beard out daily to prevent debris from building up.
Between the toes: another place we don’t normally think to brush! Big clumps of fur between the toes makes walking painful, and dogs will chew their feet trying to get the mat out. This just makes things worse! During brushing, gently run your brush over the top of your dog’s foot, from his toenails towards his leg. This will pull the fur up and out so you can keep it tangle-free. You can also run a comb between each toe, drawing the fur to the top of the foot. This is not an area to stick scissors into! The webbing there is very delicate and easy to knick. If you see a mat in the fur you’ve pulled to the top of the foot, cut it from there or let the groomer take care of it.
If your dog is currently matted, know that a “fresh start” is often the kindest option. Picking deep mats out is painful, as it tugs at the dog’s skin and can even cause tearing in areas with thin skin or on elderly dogs. Heavily matted fur restricts blood flow and can hide underlying issues like sores or growths that you may not see. Knots in the armpit and “leg pits” can bind, preventing the dog from walking normally or causing discomfort with every step. Be cautious in cutting mats out at home. Besides leaving holes in the coat, it can be tricky to know where the mat stops and the skin begins because the mat pulls skin into it.
Different fur textures mat in different ways, but any coat with length can snarl up. If a long coat is too much to keep up with at home, regular trips to the groomer (4 to 6 weeks is the recommended schedule) will keep your dog in good condition. You don’t have to book a haircut every time, a “face feet and fanny” or even just a thorough brush-out will do! While you’re in, I can show you how what tools to use and how to brush to prevent mats and keep your pup looking and feeling good!
If your dog resists having his claws clipped try teaching him to file them down himself! A scratch board is easily built with either 120 grit sandpaper or slip-proof tape (the sort used on stair edges) and a plank of wood of a reasonable size for your dog. Wrap the sandpaper around the edges of the board and secure with a staple gun or adhesive, making sure that the corners aren’t sharp and the dog won’t be pawing over the staples.
Grab your clicker and some treats and reward your dog for first investigating, then touching the board. When he places a paw on it, click that a few times and stop. In your next session, click only for paw touches, then hold your click until he leaves his foot on the board for a longer period of time or drags it across the surface. Keep going in this way over the course of several short training sessions until he gives you good swipes with contact between nails and board. Make a game of it and in no time you’ll have a dog that does his own pedicures!
For more information about claw care, including how to condition your pup to accept nail trims, call us!