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DOG / grooming

Dapper Dogs: The Art of Grooming Your Pooch

Make your dog look and feel like a million bucks with these basic grooming tips


Whether you take your pooch to a pro or DIY is more your style, here’s what needs doing and how often.


Ensure smooth skin and a shiny coat by washing dogs no more than once a week (too many baths can dry out dogs’ skin). Use shampoo and conditioner made especially for dogs.

If your dog’s skin is often dry, itchy or flaky talk to your vet about possible causes — your dog may have sensitive skin or a food allergy. At bath time, are you using something that isn’t dog shampoo? That could be the culprit too. Human products can throw off the pH balance of your dog’s skin.

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Most dogs shed. Regular brushing helps ensure that all of that extra fur doesn’t end up on your furniture, carpet and clothes.

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Ear care

Clean your dog’s ears monthly (more if they love to swim). Start by grooming the fur around their ears. If there’s fur in the ear canal and it seems to attract gunk, ask a groomer to trim it down.

Next, use an ear cleaner to flush out your dog’s ears. Put a few drops into each ear and lightly massage the ear near the opening. Let your dog shake his or her head, and then use a cotton ball (not a cotton swab) to gently wipe out the ear canal.

Ask your groomer or vet what kind of ear cleaner is best for your pooch. Some cleaners are made to break up earwax, while others are made to dry out the ear canal.

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Take your dog to the vet if these symptoms occur:

  • Your dog seems to be in pain when you clean their ears
  • Your dog frequently scratches their ears or head
  • You notice unusual odor, redness, swelling or lumps around or in their ears

Eye care

A lot of dogs get goo in their eyes and may benefit from daily “de-gunking.” Take a soft, damp cloth, cotton ball or tissue and gently wipe the corners of your pup’s eyes. If the eye gunk is crusty, soak it for a moment so it is easier to remove.

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Talk to your vet if you notice:

  • Your dog blinking or rubbing their eyes more than normal
  • Changes in your dog’s eyes, including redness, swelling, pain or discharge
  • Your dog seems to be having trouble seeing

Cleaning teeth

Um, have you smelled your dog’s breath? All dogs benefit from a daily tooth brushing. If you can’t handle this chore every day, at least once a week is definitely better than nothing.

Use toothpaste made for dogs. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that may harm your dog. Apply the toothpaste with a pet toothbrush, a kids’ toothbrush, a gauze pad or a cotton swab. Be sure to pay attention to the problem areas: the back upper molars and the canine teeth.

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Flea control

These itchy parasites are the worst and you’ll need to get rid of them ASAP. Remember that you’ll need to banish fleas not just from your dog, but from your other pets, your house, your car and your yard.

Take care when using any flea-killing product; read the directions thoroughly and use these products only as directed.

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Want to outsource some of this to a pro? Visit the PetSmart Grooming Salon page to find a professionally trained pet stylist near you.