Grooming your dog is an important responsibility for any pet parent and as the years go by, not only you but your dog goes through many changes as well. Not only does the health, temperament and patience of your senior dog change, so does the skin and hair/fur. In fact, the aging dog has many special needs that require special attention.
Otherwise healthy skin can become dry and flaky, causing dander on the surface of the coat. On the other end of the spectrum, the skin may become excessively oily and feel greasy to the touch. A hormonal imbalance in your dog can make the skin thin and fragile, making your pet more susceptible to injury while taking longer to heal.
Along with mental changes your dog may be experiencing arthritic pain as well, which makes it a little difficult to groom your dog. Many aging pets can develop some lumps and bumps on their skin as well which should be evaluated by your veterinarian. We also know that the teeth start showing some age (along with odor) and the nails can become hard and brittle.
Despite all these changes in your beloved best canine friend, grooming should be a regular routine for better health. Professional groomers should be aware of the special needs of your dog but in between the groomers’ visits, remember your part as the pet parent to go the extra mile in providing the best quality of life for your senior dog.
Dogs need a bath once every month or two, depending your dogs’ lifestyle, breed and age. When you get a whiff of the doggy smell, it could be time for a bath. Most dogs like their bath as it does feel very soothing to them. Use a rubber mitt (purchased at the pet store) with nubs on it to massage the skin and coat. With a big dog, don’t be afraid to just crawl in the tub with him/her. It makes it much easier, especially if your dog is suffering from arthritis and can’t stand for a long time. A bath not only removes dirt and oils but also dead fur. It also gives you the opportunity to check your dog for any lumps and bumps.
To prevent eye problems, keep hair short around the face. Be cautious with using scissors near the eyes. Request your groomer to do it for you safely. Some dogs have drainage around the eyes which can be wiped on a regular basis.
Cleaning the ears is imperative but it can also be dangerous to delve deeply in the eardrum. Ask your veterinarian or your groomer to teach you how to keep the ears cleaned between the professional maintenance. Here is some good information on keeping your dogs ears clean at http://www.petplace.com/dogs/how-to-clean-your-dog-s-ears/page1.aspx. Dogs with floppy long ears are susceptible to infections regularly. Keep the fur by the ears shaved to allow for air circulation. When ears are healthy and clean, there should be no odor.
Most dogs hate their paws touched which is why I always suggest my clients play with their dogs paws all the time. Your senior dog may fight the nail trimming but it is very important to keep them trimmed. Choose a good nail clipper from your local pet store as well as some styptic powder or gel to stop any bleeding if you cut a little to the quick of the nail. For tips on how to cut your dogs’ nails, find good info at http://www.petplace.com/dogs/how-to-trim-your-dog-s-toenails-2/page1.aspx. The new nail grinders available do work well also but it is something necessary to start with a young dog. If not used to it, most dogs hate the vibrating.
Don’t forget, as part of grooming your dog, brush those pearly whites. Dental disease is very common in dogs and one that can be prevented with regular brushing, at least weekly.
Even though your dog is aging, grooming is even more important . . . with a little extra tender loving care. Get a nice soft bristle brush for your dog’s regular brushing and keep that skin and coat healthy with weekly brushing. And don’t forget the doggy toothpaste and toothbrush to provide for a clean and healthy mouth.