What Is Dog Grooming?

June 29, 2021

To some dog parents, the idea of grooming is reserved for Best in Show pups at the Westminster Kennel Club, but in reality, dog growing is far more comprehensive and beneficial than just fancy haircuts.

Grooming ensures our furry friends look and feel their best by providing essential hygiene and healthcare services. If trips to the vet are for health problems, you can think of grooming as preventative medicine for your dog. With that in mind, we break down the basics and importance of dog grooming, including how you can incorporate a grooming ritual into your relationship, in the following post.

What Does Dog Grooming Consist Of?

Besides a fresh, breed-specific haircut, dog grooming includes essential health care such as:

  • Washing and brushing the coat
  • Trimming and filing nails
  • Cleaning and disinfecting ears
  • Brushing teeth and gums
  • Expressing necessary glands

Each of these procedures helps to prevent trips to the vet and keeps your pup healthy and happy.

Dog Coat Basics

Regularly washing and brushing the coat does wonders for your fur babies. Routine grooming:

  • Prevents matted and ingrown hair, which can lead to irritation, infections, skin disease, and behavioral problems
  • Stops fleas from making a home for themselves on your pet
  • Helps to reduce shedding
  • Facilitates natural oil distribution, keeping your pup’s skin and hair healthy
  • Ensures your dog looks sharp and keeps its tail wagging

Different dog coats need different kinds of attention. Coats can be straight, curly, or wiry and come in varying lengths. While some dogs have a single coat, others have an insulating undercoat creating a double coat and a propensity to shed. The first step in caring for your dog’s coat is understanding the kind it has and the maintenance it will require. Once you know the coat type, you can create a coat care routine that works for both of you. If you want to learn more about coat types and coat care, checkout our Ruff Draft deep dive here!

Nail Care for Dogs

When nails get too long, they can splay out the dog’s feet in an unnatural way leading to foot and joint problems later on in life. A regular doggy pedicure will keep your pup’s bone structure as natural as possible. Trimming the nails every 2-4 weeks should be sufficient depending on how often your dog gets active nail filing from walking on pavement and sidewalks. The last thing we want is for your fur baby’s nails to drag on the ground during what’s meant to be a leisurely stroll around the block.

When puppies mature, they form blood vessels and nerve endings deeper inside the nail. Clipping early and often prevents those from developing and keeps nail trimming pain-free for your pooch throughout its lifetime.

If you want to learn more about nail care and how to trim your dog’s nails, check out our Nail Care 101 post!

Ear Cleaning

Dogs love getting scratched behind the ears—unless their ears are painful and infected! Frequent ear inspections and cleaning help prevent germ and grime build-up that lead to strange smells and uncomfortable infections. Routine ear care is especially important for dogs with floppy ears as they don’t get as much airflow into the ear canal. A quick weekly wipe will normally suffice, but a deep clean every few weeks will help keep irritation at bay, especially after they’ve just gone for a swim or played in the mud.

Stay tuned for a deep dive into proper ear care and cleaning!

Oral Hygiene

Just like humans, plaque and tartar build-up on teeth and gums increases the risk of periodontal disease, tooth decay, and heart disease in dogs. Chew toys and dental treats help, but nothing replaces good ole fashioned brushing. As a result, it’s good to give your pup’s shiny whites a good clean as often as possible. 

Anal Gland Expression

Trimming nails, cleaning ears, and taking care of a dog’s coat are labor and time-intensive but can be done yourself (and we have guides to help!). Anal gland expression is the one part of grooming where we highly recommend calling in the professionals. Dogs, particularly smaller breeds, may need their anal glands expressed periodically. When anal glands are not expressed periodically, they can become inflamed, irritated and smelly. How do you know when your pup may need anal gland expression? 

First and foremost, we suggest consulting with your vet as they will provide the best guidance for your fur baby. That said, there are a few tell tale signs that you may notice that may require anal gland expression. If your dog is paying particular attention to their rear end or they are dragging/scooting their tush on the carpet, then there is a chance their anal glands are irritated and may need to be expressed. 

Learning how to manually express your dog’s anal glands goes above and beyond dog parenting. There are two types of anal gland expression, internal and external. Groomers are typically trained to do external expression which is less invasive and more common. If a more complex expression is needed, vets are able to do an internal expression. If you decide to let a professional groomer handle gland expression, make sure to talk to them about options as some groomers unnecessarily express anal glands every time the dog is groomed. The proper way to approach anal gland expression is to discuss the needs for each pup based on their symptoms and anatomy and make a group decision from there. 

Dog Grooming Routines

Maintaining hygiene and regular grooming is one of the best commitments you can make to your pooch. It demonstrates a level of care beyond providing food, shelter, and love to your best friend. Grooming your dog yourself is a great way to develop intimacy with your pup and strengthen the bond between you. 

A regular and consistent groomer is like having a personal doctor - or should we say “dogtor” - that knows your pup almost as well as you. While most groomers are not veterinarians, they are trained animal care professionals; it is common for our expert groomers to catch underlying health concerns and treat an issue before it becomes an expensive vet visit. And even if you take care of your dog’s grooming needs, an occasional grooming appointment with a professional is still a worthwhile investment.

Professional Dog Grooming

There are two options for professional grooming: pet stores and mobile grooming. Without a doubt, mobile grooming is the far superior option as there are no cages or kennels and the entire experience takes a fraction of the time.

At a high level, Mobile Grooming:

  • Removes stressful interactions for your dog due to foreign sights, smells and sounds
  • Provides a 1:1, safer experience
  • Provides convenience and peace of mind as your baby is right out front the entire time

In-store salon grooming:

  • Increases potential stress triggers for your dog, since it’s surrounded by foreign smells, sounds and sights.
  • Results in your pup having to wait in a cage for drying or when grooming is finished
  • Means your pup is passed from person to person and is not always checked in by the professional stylist who will do the groom
  • Means waiting around in the store or having to leave and come back later

Taking your pup to a pet store for grooming is a cheaper option, but often comes at the cost of your furry companion’s comfort and your peace of mind and convenience. In-store grooming is all about efficiency, getting dogs in and out as fast as possible while the best mobile grooming operators prioritize a more intimate service with better individual care.

Stay tuned for more information on the benefits of mobile grooming!


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