All dogs will benefit from regular grooming, whether they are a short haired breed or one with a long or fluffy coat.
Reasons for grooming – Remember ‘CHAIR’
Cleanliness – keeping your dog’s coat clean by removing dirt and dead hair helps encourage new hair growth, and reduces the amount of hair deposited on household furniture
Health – grooming helps to stimulate new coat growth, and prevents the formation of knots or matting which may lead to skin irritation
Appearance – most owners take a pride in their dogs looking smart, and regular grooming will certainly help your puppy to look its best
Inspection – regular grooming is also a great way to check for parasites, or any suspicious lumps and bumps
Relationship – grooming is part of dog’s socialisation activities. Regular grooming helps create a bond between you and your puppy, and accustoms your puppy to being handled.
It is important to groom your puppy at a height which is comfortable for both you and your dog. For many dogs it may be advisable to groom them on a table. There are custom made grooming tables available, which might be a good investment if you have taken on a puppy that requires a lot of grooming. But any sturdy table or work bench with a non-slip surface will suffice. Remember: never leave your puppy unattended on the table for even a short moment.
Start the grooming experience at an early age as part of your puppy’s socialisation programme and routines. Keep the sessions short to start off with – just a couple of minutes, gradually increasing the time spent on the table. Always make the experience positive, rewarding with praise and suitable treats. Any struggling should be dealt with firmly but kindly, as your puppy may be frustrated, mischievous or even afraid.
Build up the experience and your puppy will come to accept the grooming routine and also being handled on the table. This will help with other activities such as veterinary visits.
Finish the grooming if your puppy shows signs of getting bored or tired, so that each session ends on a positive note.
Dog coat types
It’s worth bearing in mind that factors like neutering, age, poor diet and poor health can dramatically influence your dog’s coat.
A Basenji has a Smooth Coat – short and tight to the body. Very low maintenance. Grooming achieved by removing the dead coat to leave a glossy finish Approximately 10 minutes once a week to prevent heavy shedding using the following types of grooming tool: Massage mitt, Bristle brush and Cloth
Care of ears, nails and eyes
• Check your puppy’s ears to see if they are clean. You can remove excess dirt from the inside of the ear flap with damp cotton wool. Never probe inside the ear as you may perforate the ear drum. Any odour is usually a sign there is something wrong and your puppy should be taken to a vet.
• If nails are excessively long remove the tip of the claw, taking care not to cut the quick or blood vessel. Although I recommend that you file your puppies nails once a week.
- Teeth should also be cleaned once a week with a soft tooth brush and doggie tooth paste. Practice this from the time you first get your puppy home. It should only take 2 minutes per week.
• If needed clean the eyes with clean, damp cotton wool using a separate piece for each eye.
A parasite is something that lives on another animal (the host) and gets its nourishment from the host. If left unchecked, the parasite causes disease or even death. The most common external parasites found on dogs are fleas and ticks.
• Fleas are very small, brownish black, extremely agile creatures. Excessive scratching and self-biting can be symptoms of flea infestation. Even if no fleas are to be seen the presence of shiny black specks like coal dust (flea excreta) is a sure indication of the presence of fleas (dab the specks with a damp piece of cotton wool and if it goes pink it confirms the presence of fleas; these are the remains of a digested blood meal from the host).
• Ticks are largish grey pea shaped parasites that can be 3 to 4mm in length. They attach themselves to other animals in order to have a blood meal.
There is evidence that ticks are also a threat to human health as they can spread Lyme disease.
There is now a wide range of proprietary powders, sprays, ‘spot-on’ treatments and anti-flea and tick collars available. A dedicated pet care professional will be happy to advice on suitable products.
Other skin problems
• Ringworm is a fungal disease, affecting the skin, nails and hair. Circular lesions appear causing hair loss, which become scaly and crusty. Ringworm is contagious and is a zoonotic condition (transmissible to humans).
• Dermatitis causes irritation, hair loss and inflammation and is a result of sensitivity to the environment.
• Alopecia can range from a thinning of hair to total hair loss and can be caused by a number of factors such as skin parasites, hormonal imbalance, infections, stress or poor nutrition. Seek veterinary advice for any skin problems.