Dog Grooming and Oral Health Tips

Regular grooming is an important part of responsible dog care. It is an excellent way of bonding with your dog and it will help your dog live a healthier live. In addition to regular baths and brushing, grooming this includes checking and cleaning your dog’s ears, eyes and teeth, as well as clipping his/her claws.

A regular grooming schedule allows us to detect any skin abnormality, fleas and ticks, ear infections among other health problems. It is important to start grooming your dog at an early age, so that he/she can get used to these procedures as early as possible.

Here are a few dog grooming tips to make the process easier.

Bathing and brushing

Bathing frequency depends on your dog’s lifestyle. Very active dogs or dogs that spend too much time outside need more frequent baths. I recommend bathing active or outside dogs every two weeks because too frequent baths can cause skin problems. Inactive, indoor dogs or shorthaired dogs can be bathed every three or four weeks. Dogs can be bathed using a dog shampoo, baby shampoo or liquid dish soap. Do not use human shampoo because the pH of dog’s coats is different from the pH of humans, and this may damage your dog’s skin. You may need a flea and tick shampoo. Ask your veterinarian about the best shampoo for your dog.

Nail clipping

Dog’s nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid overgrowth and cracking. Frequency of nail clipping depends on your dog’s lifestyle. This procedure should be done in a very careful manner. First examine your pet’s nails carefully to help identify the blood vessels inside; you should cut at least 2 mm away from the blood vessel. Once you have a firm grip on your dog’s paw use a nail-clipping tool to cut each nail on a single and firm movement. The end of the dog nail should have no tearing or splitting.  If you’re not too confident about where to cut, or his/her nails are very dark, you can clip a small part (about 2-3 mm) of the tip f the nail.

Ear cleaning

Inspect your dog’s ears at least once a week and look for accumulation of debris and the presence of bad odors; these could indicate ear infection. You can use any commercially available ear cleaning solution or baby oil to clean your dog’s ears. Lift the ear and clean only the visible part. Never introduce cotton swabs on the ear canal.

Dental Health in Dogs

Oral disease is the most common health problem diagnosed in dogs. According to The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the age of three years. The AVDC defines periodontal disease (gum disease) as the development of plaque from the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth. Periodontal disease has been linked to several health problems such as diabetes mellitus and increased severity of diabetic complications. Oral disease is also related to renal, hepatic and cardiac disease.

You should start brushing your dog’s teeth at a young age to allow your dog to become used to oral care. Before a toothbrush is introduced, the puppy should be given gum massages so they have the experience of the mouth being manipulated. It is important that you use toothpaste specially created for dogs because human toothpastes may cause stomach upset in dogs. Ideally, dog’s teeth should be brushed every day; however, if that is not feasible you should try to brush your dog’s teeth at least once a week.

How To Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

  • Place the bristles of the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the union between the gum and the teeth.
  • Press lightly and brush using short back-and-forth strokes.
  • If your dog is does not want to keep his/her mouth open, it is best to brush while the mouth is closed with access to the teeth gained by gentle lifting of the lips.
  • Perform this brushing technique with the bristles rinsed in water rather than covered with toothpaste because dogs try to eat the brush if its bristles are covered with toothpaste.
  • When brushing is completed, cover the teeth with toothpaste using a gauze sponge. This will provide antiseptic benefits.

When Should You Bring Them In To A Veterinarian For A Teeth Cleaning?

Your dog should have his teeth checked by a professional every six to twelve months. In order to have his/her teeth cleaned, your dog should be anesthetized. Anesthesia free dental procedures are not able to clean beneath the gumline to prevent periodontal disease, nor are they able to look beneath the gum-line to identify problems before they become painful and expensive to treat. Anesthesia posses various risks, especially for old or obese pets. Your veterinarian will have to assess the health status of your pet before he/she can be anesthetized.

You should seek immediate veterinary attention if you identify any of the following signs in your dog.

  • Bad breath
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Loss of appetite and loss of weight
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth that are discolored
  • Teeth that are covered in tartar
  • Pain when you touch your dog’s mouth
  • Drooling


The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC). Retrieved from: on August 12, 2015.

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