Grooming Your Dog
(Provided by DVM Patricia Mahoney, Full Circle Veterinary Care)
A young puppy doesn’t have the natural ability to replenish the oils in their skin until about 12 weeks, so don’t groom it more than once a month. If you bathe a dog regularly, be sure to use a shampoo that is hypo allergenic. If the shampoo has soap in it, it can strip the oil, so don’t use it more than once a month. You also shouldn’t use human products because the pH of human skin is different than pH of a dog, so you want to use a product made specifically for dogs.
In the picture perfect world, you would never need to clean a dog’s teeth. Anesthesia-free dental cleaning does not work for professional, effective dental cleaning for animals. It depends on the dog’s diet and genetics if they need their teeth cleaned, so have the dog evaluated to see if it’s necessary.
Bad breath in a dog is not normal. Puppy breath, often called, “Milk breath,” is normal and will go away around four months of age. If you have a dog with halitosis, have the veterinarian check its teeth and gums. There are also systemic illnesses which can cause bad breath that should be looked into.
There is no proper and perfect chewing source. You have to just find what works best for your dog. Some dogs are good with raw hide, where other dogs will swallow big pieces and that can cause intestinal blockage. Some dogs can chew on natural things like antlers, but that may be too hard for the enamel on some dog’s teeth. A nylon material is another option, but a voracious chewing dog may crack their teeth. With that said, the more natural the source, the better. Chewing on a bone at any time should not be done without supervision. If it doesn’t appear to be safe, take it away.
Docking tails, clipping ears, and declawing are considered cosmetic procedures unless it needs to be done for medical reasons. If an animal injures its tail, there could be a medical reason to dock a tail. Dewclaws are often removed for hunting breeds, with the idea it will prevent catching it on the low brush while hunting. Research shows that it’s better to have all of your parts intact. Dewclaws help with fast, sharp turns. Tail’s help with balance as well as behavior cues from dog to dog; ears give signals from dog to dog, so it can be important to have tails and ears intact. Leave animals as naturally as you can, however, if you need to take something off, then do it. In the show dog community, it has been normal to show a dog with changes, but more and more, the show dog community (confirmation) is catching up with the understanding that it is healthier to be intact.
Dogs itch for the same reason people do, there may be an insect bite, an allergy to food, or allergy to the environment. Dogs can be allergic to all the same things as people. If a dog suddenly starts to itch, rinse with cold water in case something just got on them. If there is an anaphylactic reaction, and it is rubbing its muzzle and struggling to breathe, your dog may need immediate veterinary attention. If the dog has been itching a long period of time, notice if it’s seasonal and if there’s an environmental allergen, there may be something to be aware of that triggers it. If it is itches more often, the cause may be food allergies. If it is having issues with its anus, scooting and licking, that may be a sign of food hypersensitivity.