How To Groom Your Pets

Especially important in challenging economic times, you can save bundles of money by grooming your dog yourself. I have saved thousands of dollars grooming my two dogs over the last five years. My two Shih Tzus are happiest with short hair, which required a visit to the groomer every other month at about $50 per dog -- that added up!

Grooming Dog

Using a professional versus doing it yourself

Grooming is definitely a challenge and requires physical stamina and a strong back. If you have physical or time limitations, paying a professional is well worth it. Also, home haircuts can look, well…homely, especially for beginners. So, if the perfect doggy hairdo matters to you or your dog, leave it to the experts.

One advantage to do-it-yourself grooming for small dogs is that they are simply easier to handle than larger dogs. Also, grooming your small dog is a priceless opportunity for bonding. Another reason to try your hand at grooming is if your dog has physical or behavioral challenges. For example, one of my dogs is a nightmare in the tub and the other refuses to stand up for longer than 30 seconds because of a bad back. No wonder one groomer stopped returning my phone calls!

Groom-it-yourself tips

If you do decide to try this at home, my best piece of advice is to buy a great pair of electric clippers. A cheap pair will make you want to tear your own hair out! You can shop online or buy at your local pet store, but check the return policy in case you need to upgrade.

For actual grooming techniques, many clippers include a how-to DVD with step-by-step instructions. Also, check for books at your local library or bookstore for breed-specific advice.

Another bit of important advice: Clippers work best on a shampooed, dry coat because clean hair cuts more easily. I wash my dogs the day before grooming to take full advantage of those expensive clippers I bought. Also, you will need to buy blade lubricant to maintain the clippers, although some clipping kits include this.

Small dogs in particular are prone to unsightly eye discharge, which requires daily upkeep. Rinsing your dog's eyes with plain contact saline works well; just catch the runoff with a tissue. Keeping the area trimmed prevents the eye gunk buildup that can lead to infections and corneal scratches.

Three tricky tasks to consider

Trimming nails, clipping ear hair and expressing anal glands are three difficult grooming issues for the novice at-home groomer. Before proceeding with these tasks, it's best to get some training, whether from a groomer, vet or knowledgeable friend.

Trimming a dog's nails can be risky, especially if the nails are dark. One wrong snip can result in pain and nasty bleeding. If you decide to try it, have styptic powder on hand to stop any bloody mishaps.

The big question regarding ear hair is to pluck or not to pluck. Some professionals believe plucking ear hair with forceps helps keep the ear canal clean, preventing ear infections. Others think that simply trimming the hair does the job. I've tried both and actually had more success with a careful clipper trim.

Lastly, let's tackle the infamous anal glands, which with luck are not an issue for your pooch. Signs of problems include scooting, licking the area or a emitting a foul odor. Usually, a professional groomer empties these glands externally during your dog's bath. If you think your dog has any issues here, check with your vet before trying this at home!


Comments on "Small dog grooming tips"

Darla La Moreaux January 07, 2014 | 7:36 PM

I have a 6lb rescue dog named Bentley (mix Shih tzu/maltese) so sweet but he doesn't like me to trim him....I've only had him 2months & tried to trim his feet but he draws them up & I think he is afraid.....what to do!!

jake August 16, 2012 | 7:45 AM

Having a small dog really does make it a lot easier to do it yourself. Especially if you have the proper small dog accessories, such as the right kind of comb and tub and whatnot.

ozsavers July 03, 2012 | 7:45 PM

A simple tip maybe is to consult an expert first before grooming your dog. It's better to get expert advice depending on your type of dog breed since each breed has different tempers and needs to be considered for grooming.

Ray Piggot May 28, 2012 | 9:14 AM

A nice article with general info but not specific enough to be really useful. Thank you for making me want to find out more...Ray

PetKlace March 13, 2010 | 9:18 AM

http://www.petklace/fordogs/dog-grooming.html Good Post I will twitt about it twitter/PetKlace

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