Dog Grooming

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All dogs need grooming, but some dogs need more grooming than others.

Baxter's owners did not realize that their dog should be combed frequently and completely to prevent kinks and knots caused by intertwining of hairs or by dirt, grit, or vegetative matter in the coat. Mats can pull tender skin and cause pain and lead to hot spots or wounds to irritated skin and eventual infection, general skin outbreaks, or fungus or insect invasion.

Shaving may be the only solution for felted mats, but it must be done carefully to avoid nicking the dog or further irritating already inflamed skin.

Breeds that need frequent grooming to prevent mats and keep their coats healthy include Cocker Spaniel, Afghan Hound, Otterhound, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland, Samoyed, long-coated St. Bernard, Maltese, English Toy Spaniel, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Silky Terrier, Australian Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Bichon Frisé, Chow Chow, Keeshond, Tibetan Spaniel, Tibetan Terrier, Finnish Spitz, American Eskimo, Bearded Collie, Belgian Tervuren, Old English Sheepdog, Collie, Briard, and Shetland Sheepdog.

However, all dogs need some grooming. Although they are unlikely to develop mats or tangles — except around the ears or on the feathered legs of some breeds — medium-coated and short-coated dogs do need periodic grooming to keep coats and skin healthy. Grooming during shedding helps move the process along, lessen the hairy tumbleweeds in the family room, and encourage the growth of new coat.

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Start with puppies
Good grooming habits begin with puppy care. All puppies should be taught to sit, stand, or lie down to have their bodies checked over and their hair combed.

Grooming provides bonding time. In the wild, wolves and other canines groom each other as part of the social interaction of the pack or family group. Dog incisors (the front teeth) are an effective comb; the little nibbles they etch on the bodies of pack mates stimulate the skin and have a calming effect. Puppy owners can also use grooming as pleasurable time with their new family member.

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Tools
Pet supply stores have a dizzying variety of tools and products to assist in dog grooming. There are combs with fine teeth, combs with medium teeth, and combs with coarse teeth, combs with handles and without. There are brushes with short metal pins, brushes with slanted metal pins, brushes with flexible plastic pins, oval-shaped brushes and rectangular brushes. There are shedding blades for thick-coated dogs that shed gobs of undercoat and nubby gloves for smooth-coated breeds.

There are shampoos and rinses and gels and whiteners and conditioners and supplements to clean and soften coats.

A basic home grooming kit for a long-coated dog should include a soft wire slicker brush, a comb that has both fine and coarse teeth, a Universal brush and mat comb for dealing with the tangles that do form, and an oil-based conditioner that is applied before brushing or combing the coat. The mat comb has long teeth that are inserted into the mat rocked in a sawing motion to loosen the hairs.

A kit for medium-coated or short-coated dogs should include a slicker brush or flexible-pin brush. Bony dogs should be brushed with a soft brush or one with blunt bristles. Feathery hairs on the legs, ears, and tail should be combed. A nubby glove or coarse rag is suitable for grooming faces and for stimulating the skin and conditioning the coat on short-coated dogs.

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Bathing
Ginger doesn't need frequent baths. In fact, frequent baths can dry the natural oils in canine skin and lead to constant scratching, which in turn can lead to bacterial infections and oozing hot spots.

For dogs...
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