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Once you and your family are over the excitement of having a new puppy in the house, you should set up a grooming schedule as soon as possible. Grooming not only makes your dog look good but it's also good for his health and helps prevent problems such as excessive shedding, skin ailments, mats in his hair, paw deformities from untrimmed nails as well as teeth, ear and eye troubles. You will need some special tools to get the job done efficiently and comfortably for both you and your dog.

Fur Care: Brushing & Combing

Regular brushing and combing of your dog's coat should be part of any grooming routine. This is especially true for curly-coated dogs such as poodles and Bichon Frises, or long silky-coated ones like Yorkshire Terriers and Collies, where lack of brushing and combing is very obvious. However, even short-haired dogs such as Dalmatians and Dobermans shed fur constantly and need to be brushed. Here's what you need to properly groom your dog.

De-matting Comb - These combs have long, widely-spaced teeth used to separate and untangle mats. There are also combs with widely-spaced rotating teeth for coats that have a tendency to mat.

Half-coarse, Half-fine Comb - This is a metal comb that has fine teeth at one end and coarse teeth at the other and is best for general use.

Flea Comb - These have very fine, close set teeth and are used to find and trap fleas on smooth or silky-coated breeds.

Wire Slicker Brush - These are recommended for curly-coated dogs such as Poodles and Bichon Frises, for example.

Pin Brush - These are best for long-haired dogs such as Afghans and Lhasa Apsos.

Hound Glove - A glove with a slicker brush on one side and rubber studs on the other, this is good for smooth-coated dogs such as Hounds, Dobermans and Great Danes.

Rubber Curry or Short Hard Natural Bristle Brush - These are best to remove loose, dead hair from smooth or medium-coated dogs like Labrador Retrievers.

Scissors - These can be used for cutting away matted hair that won't smooth out. There are also scissors with blunted ends to remove hair from between your dog's pads.

Thinning Shears - These are good for getting rid of hair without leaving an obvious cut line.

Clippers - These are electric shears with detachable blades and snap-on combs to help reduce the time needed for clipping and scissoring.

Grooming Table - This is a good idea if your dog needs serious, high maintenance brushing and combing. You can place your dog on the table at a height that's comfortable for both of you, and you can keep your dog from jumping down with a leash on an overhead clamp.

Paw Care

Overgrown nails need to be trimmed to prevent injuries to the paws and to you. If you can hear the click of your dog's nails on the floor or he walks with paws turned outward, his nails are too long. Overgrown nails are not only painful but can have a crippling effect on your dog.

You can choose to have your vet do the claw grooming or you can do it yourself. If you choose to personally care for your pet's claws, there are special dog "manicure" clippers available. Never use regular scissors or your personal nail cutter to trim your dog's claws because they can crush the claw and hurt your dog. In the same manner that you would hate to cut your nails too close to the skin, avoid trimming into the quick, the pink part near the claw containing nerves and blood vessels. If you have never trimmed your dog's nails before, it's a good idea to have your vet or a professional groomer show you how.

Here are the tools you need for proper claw care.

Nail Clipper - Use nail clippers with replaceable blades made especially for dogs so as not to crush the nail. Make sure the blade is sharp and replace it if it's not. If the cutter is sharp, the nails won't be pulled or cracked. Try not to catch long hairs in the clipper. Emery Board, Nail File or Rasp - Use these to smooth any rough edges so your dog doesn't get his nails caught in upholstery, etc. Blood Clotting or Styptic Powder - Just in case you cut into the quick of the claw, this will help stop the bleeding.

Dental Care

All dogs need regular dental care to prevent disease and the bad breath that follows in its wake. Without good dental care, some 80 percent of dogs show signs of oral disease by age three. In fact, oral disease is the number one health problem diagnosed in dogs. More and more dog owners recognize the importance of regular at-home brushing followed up by professional cleaning once or twice a year. The following are tools you need for proper dental care.

Toothbrush - Dog toothbrushes are made especially for dogs. Toothbrushes for dogs have softer bristles than human toothbrushes to prevent damage to their teeth. Remember to brush gently and lightly.

Toothpaste - Dog toothpaste is especially formulated for dogs, with flavors dogs enjoy. Never try to use toothpaste meant for humans because it can cause upset stomach in your dog and is too abrasive for their teeth.

Ear Care

One of the most important grooming practices for your dog is ear care. To clean your dog's ears you will need cotton balls and a product specifically designed for ear washing. If you haven't cleaned your dog's ears before, it's a good idea to have your veterinarian or a professional groomer show you how.

Never put anything smaller than a finger down your dog's ears. Cotton swabs can push dirt and debris deeper into the ear canal and could even puncture the dog's eardrum.

Moisten the cotton swab or cotton balls with mineral oil or Vitamin E capsules before using. If you're using cotton swabs, be careful not to plunge them into your dog's ears. The vet may advise the use of hydrogen peroxide if odor is present or in case of infections.


As a rule, dogs only need to be bathed when they are obviously dirty or on the advice of a veterinarian. An exception is the curly-coated dog, for example a chow chow, should be bathed and clipped more often. The main thing to remember when bathing your dog is that his skin is delicate and very prone to drying out. You will need the following items to give your dog a proper bath.

Pet Shampoo - Use specially formulated pet shampoo to rinse away heavy dirt and oily substances.

Flea Shampoo - This shampoo can be used to eliminate fleas.

Dry Pet Shampoo - Use dry shampoo to remove light dirt and cure odor problems.

Cotton Balls - Put these in your dog's ears or moisten them with mineral oil to put around his eys to prevent soap irritation. Also, you can moisten the cotton balls with warm water to clean his eyes of tear stains and other matter.

Old Clean Towels - Use these to dry off your dog after a bath. You may also use a hair dryer but be sure to set it to "warm" and not "hot."

Flea Control

Fleas are harmful pests that affect your dog's overall health. There are several brands of flea treatments and repellents available to keep your dog flea and tick-free.

Flea Dip - Use this medicated dip after bathing to remove existing fleas and prevent re-infestation.

Flea Spray - These type of sprays are potent and kill fleas on contact. Your dog, however, may dislike being sprayed, so use only when necessary.

Flea Powder - Some dogs will prefer a powder over the spray but some powders do not actually kill the fleas. They just make the fleas jump off.

Spot Treatment
- This type of treatment comes in a variety of brands and types. Discuss medications with your veterinarian to find the best one for your pet.

Remember, when using these products, follow directions closely and avoid contact with your dog's eyes, ears and mouth.

Cleaning Supplies

Whether your dog lives indoors or out, it's also important to keep his surroundings as clean, sanitary and free of parasite infestation as possible. The rewards are a healthy, long life for your dog and long-lasting companionship for you. Unless your dog suffers from serious behavioral problems or a medical condition, keeping his surroundings clean isn't an onerous task. It should require little in the way of time and specialized equipment.

Stain and Odor Removal Products

Even the best house-trained, most meticulously clean dog can occasionally have accidents in the house. An accident can take the form of vomiting, spraying, urinating or leaving feces in the house.

Pet stain and odor removal agents come in various forms, ranging from a good carpet shampoo, if the stain is fresh, to more specialized commercial products for older, more persistent stains. Absorbent powders, mineral rock or zeolite products, enzymal products and enzyme/bacteria kits can all be useful to remove tough or old stains and odors. If none of these work on a particular stain, it's time to consult a professional cleaner.

Product Type How It Works Where It Works
Carpet Shampoo Detergent cleaning action Only when the stain is very fresh. You still must deal with the odor.
Dry Powders Uses super absorbency to remove stains and odors and disinfect the affected area Upholstery, wood, linoleum, concrete. Not as effective with carpets due to difficulty of rubbing the powder into the padding.
Mineral Rock (Zeolite) Products Contains a crystal structure that absorbs stain and odor molecules along its surface - much like a sponge. The crystals are then placed in the sun where they release the odors, bacteria and other particles. Once this is done, they're ready to use again. Any smooth surface. Not as effective with carpets due to difficulty getting mineral rock into the backing.
Enzymal Products Uses enzymes to break down the odor-causing compounds. The enzymes must be freshly diluted and the area must be kept warm and wet for 24 hours. A good way to keep the area moist is to cover it with towels soaked in water and placing a shower curtain or piece of plastic over that. Carpets, concrete, wood, linoleum, upholstery
Enzyme/Bacteria Kits Uses enzymes to break down odor-causing compounds and then bacteria to "eat them". Once the food source is gone, the bacteria convert to carbon dioxide and water. Carpets, upholstery, concrete, wood, linoleum

A typical enzyme/bacteria stain and odor removal kit contains a quart of enzyme/bacteria culture with approximately 50 billion specially bred bacteria, a quart of tannin spot remover, a bottle of odor neutralizer, some type of plastic injector tool, various spray attachments, a measuring cup, a spotting towel, sponges, spray pads, a mitt mob, rubber gloves and carpet comb.

Other Cleaning Products

Aside from these stain and odor removers, other cleaning supplies available for your dog include products that remove animal odors from dog crates, kennels and bedding and keep the pet area fresh smelling, form a protective barrier on carpets, rugs and upholstery against pet accidents and cause your dog to avoid areas where he has been destructive due to chewing, clawing or spraying.