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GENERAL GROOMING

Grooming is very important; especially at the puppy stage.  We at Awesome Paws believe that your puppy's first professional grooming should not be traumatic and should be done as soon as your puppy has been fully vaccinated (usually 16 weeks of age.)  Grooming should be done every four to seven weeks depending on the breed of your pet.

Regular grooming will make your pet more pleasurable to hold and love, while enhancing your pet's comfort and appearance.

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

Shedding

Dog hair grows and dies just as human hair does. Some dogs, particularly hard-coated terriers and Poodles, hang on to their dead hair, thus requiring special grooming to remove it. Other dogs give it up quite readily, all over the house. Double-coated dogs generally drop their soft undercoats twice a year and lose their guard hairs once a year, although some individual dogs might shed constantly or only every 10-12 months. 

Shedding can take anywhere from three weeks to two months. A warm bath helps accelerate the process and daily (or twice-daily) grooming can help control clouds of hair that scurry into corners and under furniture.  Shedding is controlled by hormonal changes that are tied to photoperiod (day length) and is influenced by level of nutrition and general state of health.  In addition to natural biennial shedding, a dog may drop its coat after surgery, x-rays under anesthesia, and whelping puppies. 

Double-coated dogs that shed heavily include the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, American Eskimo, Australian Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Collie, English Toy Spaniel, German Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Keeshond, Kuvasz, Newfoundland, Norwegian Elkhound, Pomeranian, Samoyed, Shetland Sheepdog, Siberian Husky and Smooth Collie and St. Bernard.  The Dalmatian sheds constantly and many dogs shed a moderate amount of hair. 

Owners should be aware that before they purchase a long-coated, purebred or mixed dog that it will require grooming throughout its life.  If the inclination to groom or the time to do so are not part of the plan, provisions should be made for professional coat care for the dog. Otherwise, a dog that can do with a lick and a promise is a better choice as a family pet.

Skin

Healthy skin is certainly a consideration for a well-groomed dog and healthy skin begins with a good diet. Again, the choices are legion. The rule of thumb is thus: If your dog does well on the food you buy, if his skin and coat are healthy, if he has energy and enjoys life, if he is maintaining his optimum weight, if his intestines are working well, if the food is highly digestible and thus leaves little manure to clean up, keep on keepin' on. But if the dog's energy level is low, if his coat is dull and his skin dry and itchy or sore, if a vet check shows no thyroid or other medical condition to account for the anomalies, consider switching the diet or supplementing with fatty acids. 

Grooming is essential for healthy skin, not so much for keeping it clean, but for making the owner aware of any problems that may be developing. Flea allergies can cause severe skin problems, so daily examination of the dog during flea season is a must. Contact allergies can also cause skin to break out. Irritated skin leads to scratching, which can open the skin to staphylococcus infections. An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure for the dog and the pocketbook.  The antibiotics for skin infections are among the most expensive medications and the cost of treatment can be dollars a day for a couple of weeks or longer.  Skin irritations and infections can crop up overnight, so keep a close eye on the situation.

Groom daily for fleas and ticks if Lad has had a problem.  Use a fine-toothed comb to check for fleas, then flick the tiny insects into a container of warm, soapy water. Remove ticks with protected fingers and drop in a vial of alcohol. Treat the house for fleas as well; modern controls for these pests use genetically altered natural insecticides, growth inhibitors, and drying agents that are both environmentally friendly and less toxic to people and pets.

Helpful  Tips:

Here are some hints to make a trip to the groomer easier on both you and your dog:

  • Teach your dog to stand on command and to accept the attentions of a stranger without cringing or growling. Obedience classes are wonderful for this good manners exercise, which is an integral part of the Canine Good Citizen test.

  • Comb your dog regularly to prevent tangles and mats; or schedule more frequent visits to the groomer. Matted hair can cause great pain to the dog and to the groomer who gets bitten because he's in pain from tangled locks.

  • Crate train your dog so he'll sit quietly while drying and waiting for your return.

  • Warn the groomer of any bad habits that could interfere with successful grooming. If, in spite of all you can do, your "Fluffy" hates grooming and is likely to bite, tell the groomer so she can take precautions. If your dog is tranquilized for the session, if she has a heart problem or is subject to seizures, if she has arthritis, or if she is extremely fearful, tell the groomer so she will be prepared.

Remember:  a groomer is not a miracle worker. She cannot take a poorly maintained dog and turn it into a show-stopper in one visit. You should maximize your chances of satisfaction by teaching the dog to accept the attentions of strangers and keeping the coat free of mats and tangles.