Puppy Grooming

Grooming sessions with puppies can start as early as 3 weeks old. The sooner you start the better as the puppy may not be so agreeable to it as it gets older. Whilst puppies may not need a lot of grooming initially, it is not just about keeping your dog looking good. It promotes good health, gives you a chance to check his coat and body for any health issues and is also good bonding time. It is so important to get your puppy used to being handled and having his ears cleaned, coat brushed, and nails clipped as it makes visits to the vets and groomers less traumatic for him.

The skin and hair of a puppy is very much like that of a human. Both human and dog skin and hair is made of protein with oil to lubricate. Regular brushing will help to bring out the natural oils and will spread over the coat to give it a healthy sheen. A soft bristle brush or a pin brush for a thicker coat, would be ideal for a puppy.

In the past it was said that you should not bathe your dog too often, but modern shampoos are designed to help you groom puppy at home and can be used on all dogs of all ages and coat type and suitable to be used as often as your dog needs to be bathed. Mild shampoos that will not irritate the eyes are available for puppies. Use a good hypoallergenic shampoo for puppies and dogs with sensitive skin and allergies.

Tips on Grooming

Most puppies enjoy being bathed. Use warm water and lather up, making sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all the shampoo. It is best to towel dry and let the coat air dry. A dry shampoo can be used, but they are not as effective as a wet bath.

Puppies have sharp pointed nails which scratch so make sure their nails are trimmed. After the first trimming, the pup is usually active enough to keep them worn down for about six weeks, but regularly check and trim, as you would an older dog.

Use ear wipes to clean the ears, getting into all the creases. Check for any redness and if there is also a bad odour, this could be a sign of infection. Frequent head shaking and scratching at the ears should also be checked out with the vet.

Teeth brushing is not much fun for either you or the pup, but if you can get him used to this early on, it will reap reward. Bad teeth is very common in dogs so a good oral routine is a good habit to remove plaque. Finger brushes are a good idea and easier to use than a regular brush. Never use human toothpaste, always use dog toothpaste. Specially designed chew sticks and dental sticks also help to keep teeth clean.

If you intend to take your dog to the grooming parlour, take him for a visit during the puppy stage to get him used to the sounds and smells. A first grooming session can be quite scary! If you would like to see a video on how best to groom a puppy watch this here


Common Dog skin problems

Does your dog have a dull coat, is constantly scratching, itching, chewing at his paws, or wiping his face and eyes? Any one of these symptoms sound familiar? Dog skin conditions are one of the most common reasons for a trip to the vets.

Constant scratching at itchy skin is really common. Persistent scratching can be torment for both dog and owner; as well as making your dog totally miserable, it can cause broken skin infections and hair loss. Itchy skin can be caused by allergies which can be broken down into three main sections i.e. fleas, the environment or food. Whilst flea bites are particularly irritating to both dogs and humans, some dogs have a hyper-sensitivity to it and just one bite is enough to set off intense itching and scratching. However, it is treatable and can be controlled. See your vet for regular three monthly treatments in tablet form to keep your dog flea and tick free. This is far better control than the over the counter options that are in the form of liquid drops on the skin.

Environmental allergies can be seasonal, so it is a good idea to keep a diary of when your dogs starts scratching and where he has been. Itching that starts when the weather starts to warm up, could be down to fleas or inhaled allergens such as grass pollen. Nettles and thistles can also cause irritation to the paws and you may find your dog scratching at the carpet or chewing his feet to get some relief as soon as he returns home from exercise. Environmental allergies are harder to treat and if control is difficult your dog may need to have medication prescribed by the vet. However, Piriton is a good option for allergy control but always speak to your vet before using who will give you the correct dosage for your breed and size of dog.

Dog Food Allergy

A food allergy is more difficult to diagnose and not as common as you would think. An allergy is created by a hypersensitivity to a protein, and the only way to find out what that is, is to give your dog totally different food and by process of elimination remove the trigger. Unfortunately, most manufactured dog food has similar ingredients, so you may have to get help and advice from your vet practice. Some dog owners swear by a BARF (bones and raw food) diet especially if the dog has behavioural issues which may be caused by an allergy, but most vets are against giving dogs bones. We would recommend that this is fully researched and understood before a change is made. Grains are also not a natural food for dogs so always try and get a grain free kibble to avoid stomach irritation.


The introduction of a few drops of salmon oil to your dog’s diet is great for shiny coats and also for bones and joints in older dogs. Keeping your dog shampooed and groomed on a regular basis with either a bristle or pin brush and occasionally going over with a coat thinner tool to remove the loose hair will help keep your home dog hair free and a healthy, fresh smelling, happy dog. Regular checking of your dog’s coat will also identify any problems such as dry skin, fleas and ticks and knotted hair and grass seeds and burrs that can also cause irritation.

Grooming a Double Coated Dog

Double coated dogs need a lot of regular grooming time all year round. They will naturally grow an extra thick coat for the winter months which will shed throughout the summer and in fact most days!! Double coat = double the fur so be prepared for dog hair in the home and constant vacuuming!

A double coat is a dog coat that consists of two layers. The base layer is of short dense hair and serves to protect the dog from extreme temperatures i.e. keeps him warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The top layer of longer hairs are called guard hair and help to repel water and dirt.

Twice a year a double coat will “blow coat” which is when they shed most of their undercoat hair and the guard hair becomes brittle and dull looking. It can take up to three weeks to fully shed and this is the time when it’s really important to brush out your dog’s shedding hair and a good tool to use is the coat grooming thinner. If not dealt with it will cause matted clumps which can get tangled with grass seed, twigs and possibly fleas and ticks, making it very difficult for grooming and will become uncomfortable for the dog.

To name a few, typical doubled coated dogs are:

German Shepherd
Border Collie and other Collie breeds
Old English Sheepdog
Bernese Mountain Dog
Golden Retriever
Great Pyrenees
Yorkshire Terrier

Top tips for grooming:

* Brush your dog every 2 or 3 times a week with a pin brush.

* Use a slicker brush for the thicker and longer hair around the rump

* To remove loose and dead hair from the undercoat use an undercoat grooming rake

* Regular bathing with a good quality anti tangle shampoo

* Use a wide tooth comb to work through mats and tangles. If you have to cut out a clump pinch the fur as close to your dog’s skin as you can to prevent cutting the skin.

* The coat controller or coat grooming thinner is great for controlling shedding in thick coats

Take a look at this link for a good tutorial on how to groom double coats.

Dog Grooming

If you are about to get a dog or thinking about the right breed for you, don’t forget about the amount of time you will need to keep it well groomed.

Obviously long haired dogs are high maintenance and will need daily brushing. Medium haired dogs tend to get matted hair, especially Spaniels who love to get into bushes and the undergrowth. Short haired dogs are easier to look after using a soft bristle brush  and can go longer between grooming sessions. However, most breeds who love off lead fun and play often come home with grass seeds and burrs attached to their coat, so regular brushing and attention is a must.

It is a good idea to get your puppy used to being groomed from an early age – introduce the brush and being brushed for a short time each day and you will have a happy dog who loves being groomed and touched. Introduce touching his paws regularly. Dogs don’t generally like their paws touched, but clipping claws is a basic need and getting him used to having his paws touched, cleaned and stroked will be a bonus when you have to take him to the vets or the dog groomer. Long claws can break which is painful and can become infected. Long claws can also affect the way your dog walks and in extreme cases can cause joint problems. Claw clipping can be done at home, but you have to be careful not to cut too short or you could cut into the quick and make it bleed. A good instruction guide is available at http://www.wikihow.com/Clip-Dog-Nails. Alternatively, consult a professional dog groomer or a vet nurse.

To keep the dog coat in good condition, make sure you have the right tools for the type of coat your dog has. Paws Plus One has a good selection of grooming products from Groomers which are used by professional Dog Groomers nationwide.

Avoid shampooing your dog too often to maintain the natural oils in his coat; once a month is probably about right unless he is particularly dirty. Working dogs and those that are outside a lot, will require more regular bathing, but often a good hose down after a walk in the countryside is good enough to keep him clean and smelling fresh with a shampoo once a month or so. Always use a good quality mild and natural shampoo with the right pH balance to make sure the skin does not get irritated. If your dog does has a skin condition or irritation, a shampoo with tea tree oil is a good remedy, but always take to the vets if it does not clear up for a specialised treatment.

Don’t forget the ears! Spaniels and long eared breeds in particular, will regularly need their ears checked and cleaned. Some breeds are prone to ear infections, especially those that love the water and swim a lot. If you dog’s ears become smelly, it is likely he has an ear infection, so take him to the vets for some ear drops to clear it up. If it is not treated, it can become very severe and painful and could also affect your dog’s hearing.

Some breeds such as the Poodle, do not shed hair so their hair keeps growing and will need regular cutting or clipping. Some wire haired terrier dogs, need to be hand stripped and it is best to consult a professional dog groomer to do this and not attempt yourself.