With the flowers blooming, the sun shining, and temperatures rising, our beloved pups are soon going to start feeling the effects of the change in seasons — especially breeds with longer and thicker coats.
As springtime comes around, the soft and thick fur that’s been keeping your companion warm throughout the winter tends to become a little uncomfortable for long-haired dogs, so going all-in with a new haircut is the best way to keep your pup happy and comfortable through higher temperatures.
At the same time, spring grooming can be the perfect excuse for a long-overdue bath, ideal for getting all the tangles and dirt out of your pet’s hair before they zoom right past you and run out the door to play in your neighborhood’s (now vibrant green) local park.
Your pup’s nails might also have been a little overlooked throughout the winter, so a springtime grooming session is a perfect occasion for getting their nails gently clipped and trimmed.
But just because you know that spring is the perfect time for grooming dogs of all sizes and coat types, it doesn’t mean that you know exactly how to do it right (yes, even if you’re a proud long-term dog owner)!
To shed more light on an often overlooked yet crucial topic in optimal dog hygiene, we have put together a list of our best home grooming tips and tricks, so you can dive into the grooming process fully informed on the best and safest techniques for your furry friend while reaping all the benefits of a cleaner home — just in time for spring!
Spring Dog Grooming Tips: How to Bathe Dogs & Trim Their Toenails
Let’s dispel some myths first: Unlike humans, the overwhelming majority of dogs don’t need a daily hygiene and grooming routine to be healthy and clean. Every time your pup rolls around on the ground, licks their coat, or gently bites and chews their fur, they are cleaning themselves in the most natural way.
But of course, that doesn’t mean that regular visits to a professional groomer or (better yet) learning how to take care of maintenance grooming tasks yourself isn’t useful. Hygiene essentials, like regular ear cleaning, teeth brushing, nail trimming, and hair brushing, are non-negotiable for a clean and happy pet, and so are deep-cleaning baths every month or so.
Some breeds, including Poodles of all varieties, Bichons, and Komondors, require more frequent grooming than others due to their long and coarse coats, but the vast majority of breeds won’t need a complete pamper session every single week.
That’s why, when the time finally comes for having a full grooming session, getting not only the basics but all of the details right is crucial, and that includes getting the best grooming products to treat your furry companion to the best pamper they could ever ask for, too!
Bathing Your Dog
Experts recommend bathing your dog (for short-haired and medium-haired breeds) at least once every two or three months, although breeds with exceptionally coarse hair, pups suffering from skin issues, and dogs that spend longer than usual playing outdoors might need more frequent baths to keep their hair (and your home) shiny and clean.
If you think that your pooch might be part of the exception, you’ll want to consult your vet or a trusted professional groomer to confirm how often you should bathe them and whether they might need special hair care products to take care of their sensitive skin.
Step One: Brushing
As a general rule of thumb, however, you’ll want to give your dog a good brushing before getting them anywhere near water so you can make sure all knots, mats, and tangles are taken care of.
Step Two: Preparing the Bath
Then, you’ll want to put your pup in a tub or sink filled with no more than four inches of lukewarm water, allowing enough time for your dog to get comfortable with the environment.
Some pups love swimming and getting wet, while others (especially puppies) will do anything to get out of the tub. If your furry companion falls in the latter party, you’ll want to make the experience as quick and painless as possible, perhaps even using their favorite toys and treats to distract them while you work on their fur.
Step Three: Shampooing
Working from head to tail and in a circular motion, you’ll want to gently massage the doggie shampoo into the fur, being careful not to get any water sprayed directly into their eyes or ears. After rinsing, you might want to repeat the process once more if your pup has long hair or got incredibly dirty during their playtime.
Step Four: Drying
Finally, give your pup a quick dry with a soft towel (or better yet, a cozy and oh-so-glamorous doggie robe!), giving them a good rub as you go, rewarding them with a treat to make them feel even more comfortable with the process.
If your pup tends to get inconsolably anxious when approaching a bathtub, we recommend using natural oils after the first wash to calm them down and nurture more positive associations with bathtime. If you want to combine the distraction offered by chew toys with the calming effect of doggie-safe oils, our dog calming aids are guaranteed to get the job done!
As spring comes around, dogs will naturally start shedding their winter coat, which will slowly come out in clumps when brushing their fur or giving them a bath. Treating your pup to a fresh spring trim will help speed the process up, sparing your floor from most of the shedding mess and resulting in a happier and cleaner environment all around.
If you have decided it’s time for a trim, we wouldn’t recommend attempting any haircut at home - leave the job to the professionals instead. Your local groomer will have the tools necessary to get the job done safely, as human hair clippers have short blades that can easily injure your pup!
Alternatively, you can get dog clippers specifically designed for trimming fur: You should pick the quietest tool, go very slow, and work alongside where the hair is growing to ensure a comfortable and even shave.
Tips for Brushing Your Dog
Clippers aside, the best way to make sure your pup is well-groomed on a regular basis is to invest in a high-quality brush or comb able to untangle mats, clean out dirt, spread the coat’s natural oils, and help you check for fleas and ticks. The frequency of your brushing routine will largely depend on your dog’s breed and coat type: Short and dense fur will need a gentle brush up to twice a week to avoid matting, while low-maintenance short and smooth furs will only need brushing once a week. On the other hand, long, silky coats and long, coarse furs will require more attention with a daily brushing and hair care routine, using a slicker brush to tame the tangles first and then a bristle brush to smooth out the coat.
Picking the right brush for your pup’s weekly grooming ritual is fundamental if you want to keep their beautiful fur shiny and smooth, preventing hair loss and aiding natural shedding — browse our collection to find the perfect fit!
Does your dog cower in fear the minute you get the nail clippers out? If so, you’re definitely not alone — but trimming your pup’s toenails doesn’t have to be stressful for either of you.
As a general rule of thumb, you should only consider trimming your dog’s nails when they are touching the ground (don’t wait until they’re dragging, though!), which, depending on the circumstances, might even mean weekly mani-pedis. Both scissor and guillotine-type clippers will work well, so you should ultimately go for the tool you feel most comfortable using and that, even more importantly, your pup feels safe having around their sensitive paws.
On that note, how can you make the whole experience a little more comfortable for pups that can’t stand having their feet touched?
While getting them used to the nail clipping and trimming routine as puppies will definitely help curb any future anxieties, you can help ease stress in older dogs by using different tools, alternating between filing and clipping, and using their favorite toys and treats to distract and entertain them.
Once you’ve covered the basics, you can splurge on the hottest nail products on the market and really bring your pup’s nail-grooming routine to the next level!
Giving your pup regular “eye exams” as you’re bathing them and grooming them can help spot symptoms of an eye infection quickly, as well as helping catch symptoms of other health issues.
Your pup’s eyes should be clear and bright, free of any crust and gunk in the inner corner of their eyes. Right after their pamper bath, try gently dabbing a wet cotton pad on the corner of their eyes to keep the area entirely gunk-free, being very careful not to touch the cornea.
If you do notice that your pup’s eyes produce frequent discharge, consult your vet immediately. In order to prevent eye issues from arising in the first place, it’s always best to keep long-haired breeds perfectly groomed and trimmed throughout their fur, gently cutting the hairs around their eyes.
Your spring doggie grooming routine should also include cleaning their ears, especially if you own a breed that produces a lot of earwax. Note that this should not be done as often as other grooming tasks to prevent irritation, and you should definitely not insert any cotton swabs into your pup’s ear canal!
Just gently clean the outside of their ears with a cotton ball or gauze, folding the ear outward and using a delicate ear wash formulated especially for the task. Remember that your dog’s ears are prone to irritation, so consulting your vet on the best technique for cleaning their ears effectively and safely is the best course of action if you’ve never done it before!
Proper and regular dental care is non-negotiable to avoid dangerous gum issues from arising in adulthood. Chew toys designed for keeping your dog’s teeth and gums healthy will help take care of most of the job, but you should always brush their teeth, ideally two to three times a week, to prevent bacterial buildup and excessive plaque.
So, how can you give your dog a dashing, healthy smile without having to fight for it?
The key, once again, is to go slow by acclimating them to the feeling of having their face, mouth, and teeth touched. Try gently massaging the area around their mouth first, once or even twice a day, before moving on to touching and massaging their teeth and gums.
Once your pup has gotten used to the motion and feeling of it, you can try adding a doggie toothpaste to the routine, dabbing just a little bit on your finger to get them used to the taste. Finally, you can introduce the toothbrush, gently moving it in a circular motion mostly on the outside of your pup’s teeth, which is where plaque is more likely to accumulate.
Now, your pooch’s mouth will likely not smell like a bouquet of roses, but if you really want to take their dental care to the next level, you can keep bad breath at bay with a natural breath freshener specially formulated for dogs!
The Do’s of Pup Grooming: Best Practices for a Healthy and Happy Pup
With many dog owners having to face the challenges and many facets of dog grooming for the first time, if you decide not to head straight to your favorite groomer for a full pamper session, knowing what to do and what not to do to keep your beloved pup clean, safe, and happy is incredibly important.
Here are a few more pointers about what to do and what to avoid when it comes to grooming dogs at home:
Hair Washing, Brushing, and Trimming
DO dedicate a good chunk of time to finding the best shampoo for your dog’s hair and coat type, as this is the best way to ensure minimal shedding and a healthy, silky look throughout the year. As a general rule of thumb, you should always pick a shampoo designed to tackle your pup’s unique hair care needs and skin conditions: Sensitive skin types will need extra gentle and hypoallergenic shampoos, while long-haired dogs might need a moisturizing and brightening product to retain smoothness and shine.
If you wouldn’t put anything on your hair without checking the label first, you should definitely do the same with your pooch!
When it comes to weekly brushing, DO invest in high-quality brushes that work with your pup’s hair and not against it, and never use a brush on wet coats. The process should be as gentle as possible so as not to put your pup off brushing altogether, and you should avoid pulling the hair or touching matted fur.
When bath time comes around, DO take extreme precaution keeping the water spray out of your dog’s eyes and ears, as that could lead to dangerous irritations over time. You should also make sure to rinse all shampoo thoroughly, as product leftover on the skin will also cause irritation.
You should also shampoo your dog twice so that the first wash can get rid of the dirt and the second one can go deeper into the fur, cleaning thoroughly.
DO wait until after your pup has had their walk and outdoor play before getting a bath running, as tired dogs will usually be more compliant with the washing process and not move around as much if they’re not already used to bathing. Using oils, calming aids, and comfort toys will help massively when trying to associate positive feelings with water and washing!
And finally, DO treat and pamper your pooch as much as you can, whether it’s treating them to a comfy luxury bed for grooming, snuggles, and snoozes or investing in the best quality tools to take care of all their grooming needs.
Our pets are always there for us and always ready to brighten our day, so why not treat them to the absolute best at all times?