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Home Checkups for Your Dog!

Author: Chris Chamberlin

From Head to Toe: Good grooming means more than simply bathing and brushing your dog. It includes care of his nails, ears, eyes and teeth as well. Regular attention to these areas will keep you on top of any potential health problems that could arise.

Early warning signs can save you a lot of money on veterinarian costs. So, now that your precious four-legged friend is bathed and dried, we need to take a look at the details of his good grooming.

Check Those Big Beautiful Eyes!

The first rule of good eye care is cleanliness and the best way to keep dogs' eyes clean is to keep the hair out of them. I can't tell you how many times a customer would say to me "Don't cut the hair around his eyes. I wouldn't want him to go blind!" Hogwash! This is an old wives tale.

Dogs such as Old English sheep dogs need hair to protect them from burrs and sunburn when they are working in the fields. Our pets today are kept mostly for pleasure, not so much as working dogs and they are certainly not left out in sun with no shade to cause them to get sunburn. If you won't cut the longhaired breeds' hair away from their eyes, I would certainly recommend tying it back with an elastic bow.

Make it a practice to wipe your dogs eyes with a warm wet face cloth each morning as you do your own and you will be surprised at the benefits the habit will return. Besides the obvious connection of love between you and your pet, tear staining (especially on those breeds like Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu that have protruding eyes) can be controlled by keeping the hair out of their eyes and clean. Any dried material in the inside corner of their eyes can be removed gently with a comb. Some staining can be lessened with products from you local pet store. Eyes should be cleaned a least every two weeks.

Time to Trim Your Dogs' Nails

Fred Astaire No More!

If your dog sounds like he is tap dancing across your floor, it has been way too long since his nails were trimmed. Some dogs maintain their nails themselves by the amount of time spent on concrete and other hard surfaces. Indoor pets require regular maintenance of their nails. It does not have to be a scary process. If you begin trimming their nails when they are just puppies, you should not have trouble as they grow older.

Some nails are easier to spot where the quick ends and only practice will make flawless trims. Even the most experienced groomer can nip the quick so be sure to have some styptic powder handy (to stop bleeding). If you do have a nail that bleeds, cornstarch or a soft bar of soap packed into the nail will also stop the bleeding. If you only remove small amounts at a time, you should be able to avoid this.

Never snip further back than slightly above level with the bottom of the pad. I prefer to use a scissor type trimmer but the guillotine type is just as effective. Most dogs require their nails to be trimmed every two weeks.

Cleaning a Dogs' Ears

Nothing like a good Ear Rub!

If your dog just loves a good ear rub and really leans into your hand, he probably needs his ears cleaned. It could be that they are just dirty or it could indicate he has an ear infection or ear mites. Long-eared dogs are more susceptible than dogs with prick or upright ears.

To clean a dog's ears you should first remove any hair from within the ear canal. Pluck it out with your fingers with a quick short pull and for the stubborn short ones you can use the aid of hemostat scissors to grab and pluck. There are various preparations you can buy to clean your dog's ears, but rubbing alcohol can work well too. Avoid oily solutions, as they tend to attract dirt. A cotton ball soaked in which ever you use and a quick swabbing of their ears twice a month will keep them healthy.

Clean Teeth Mean Clean Breath!

If your dog's breath is really bad, it is most likely due to tartar buildup and gingivitis. Regular cleaning and tooth scaling will save you $ and keep your dog's breath fresh. Just as you brush your teeth for good oral hygiene, a good weekly brushing for your dog is very beneficial.

All sorts of matter from hair to food can cause his gums to become infected without cleaning. You can usually get a good used scaler from your dentist and if you start your dog as a puppy, he will allow you to scale the tartar off at home. By removing the tartar with a scaler you can get under the gum line where diseases and infections like pyorrhea and gingivitis can start. Chew toys, bones and dry dog food all help to reduce build up.