Regular grooming does more than keep your puppy looking his handsome best. It also promotes his good health.
Grooming your puppy gives you an opportunity to observe his natural, healthy appearance. You’ll get to know how his eyes, ears, teeth and coat look when he’s feeling good. As a result, you’ll be quick to notice any changes that might be cause for concern.
As you groom your puppy to remove dead hair, dirt and dead skin flakes, take the time to examine his body. Look for unusual lumps under his skin, as well as for rashes, bald spots, sores, and dull or flaky skin. These are potential warning signs that may warrant a trip to the veterinarian.
Grooming is also the time to check for fleas and other external parasites. Part your puppy’s hair to the skin and examine him from head to tail. Remember, fleas are tiny and not always easily seen, especially on longhaired pups, so keep an eye out for the black specks of flea droppings.
In addition, do a careful scan of your puppy’s footpads for cuts, punctures and foreign objects. During winter months, mud, snow, ice, salt and chemical de-icing solutions can also injure his paws. Clean paws with soap and water, and treat pads for cuts by applying an antiseptic approved for use on puppies. During summer months, inspect his paws for thorns. If you find any, carefully remove them with tweezers, and apply puppy-safe antiseptic.
It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. As far as your puppy is concerned, his eyes are one of the best indicators of his overall health.
When your puppy is at his best, his eyes are bright and clear. A small amount of discharge (tearing or mucous) is normal, and can be wiped gently away with a cotton ball.
If discharge from your puppy’s eyes is excessive, or if they’re red, yellowing or cloudy, it’s time to visit the veterinarian.
Check your puppy’s ears weekly for signs of waxy build-up, mites or odour. Some puppies – those with long hair or large, floppy ears – are more prone to ear problems than others, and may need more frequent checks.
If necessary, trim excess hair in your puppy’s ears so that they’re properly ventilated. If your puppy’s ears are inflamed, overly sensitive to touch or have a strong odour, have him checked by a veterinarian.
Your veterinarian can also show you how to remove normal discharge from your puppy’s ears, and recommend a cleaning solution.
Your puppy’s toenails are like your fingernails. They’re constantly growing and if left untrimmed, can get uncomfortable for him and for you. That’s why it’s important to monitor your puppy’s nail growth and learn the trimming basics.
Puppies’ nails can grow at different rates depending on their breed. Ask your veterinarian about how often your puppy will need a trim. For a small fee, most veterinarians and groomers can take care of the trimming for you. If you decide to do it yourself, here are some handy tips:
• Get your puppy used to the feel of your hands on his paws early on. While grooming him, you may want to massage his feet and check his nail growth. Be sure to offer praise when he stays still.
• Have your veterinarian or groomer recommend the right size nail clipper.
• Avoid cutting the “quick” — the pink vein near the base of your puppy’s nail that feeds the nail bed. If cut, the nail may bleed.
• Should a nail begin to bleed, apply styptic powder, available at your pet supply store. Dab on while applying a small amount of pressure to the end of his nail.
• Always clip conservatively. It’s better to cut too little than to cut too much.