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Your Essential Guide to Puppy Grooming

How old should your puppy be when you start grooming them? What tools will you need? What's involved in the process? Our Thomasville Veterinary Hospital veterinarians are here to answer your puppy grooming questions.

Grooming Puppies at Home

Now that you have your adorable new fur baby it's a good idea to give them a few weeks to get used to life in your household and the big world around them before thinking about grooming. But after that brief adjustment period, it's time to start thinking about first grooming for puppy. You are going to want to start introducing your puppy to grooming time at around 8-12 weeks old but it's a slow and gentle process to start.

To begin with, you will need to get your four-legged friend used to your touch. Many dogs dislike having their paws touched so it's essential to start this part of the process while they are very young.

Simply lift your puppy's paws, massaging their paw pads and the tips of its toes. Be calm and gentle and try to make it a relaxing process while you cuddle together.

You might also want to reward your puppy during this time with small treats (like chicken or cheese). Your puppy should start to associate this attention with delicious rewards and lovely cuddles, that way they are more likely to enjoy the attention when it’s time for the actual grooming process.

When it comes time to groom your puppy, it is always best to do it right after playtime. If your puppy is tired it will settle down quickly and will be a lot easier to handle. This playtime can also be an extra treat for them as they get used to the grooming routine.

What You Need for Puppy Grooming

Depending on your puppy, there are a few different things you will need in order to groom your puppy at home. Dogs of different breeds have a vast array of coat lengths and textures so the grooming tools you will need depend largely on their coat. 

For example, if your puppy has a thin coat, they generally require a fine-toothed comb. If your puppy has a thick coat, you should invest in a wide-toothed version.

If you’re not sure which category your puppy falls into, choose a slicker brush. It’s a good multi-purpose brush that works well on most types of dog hair.

A brush is the only thing you will need when grooming your puppy at home, you should have a starter supply of:

  • Dog shampoo
  • Dog toothpaste
  • Dog toothbrush
  • Toenail clippers
  • Towels for drying
  • Electric clippers
  • Cotton balls (for cleaning out its ears)

What Needs to be Done

Four important things need to be done with grooming your puppy;

Dental CareYour puppy probably is not going to like you sticking your hands into their mouths so this might not be easy at first. Your puppy will try to nibble on the toothbrush and possibly your hands as your doing this. But brushing is very important to your dog's oral health and daily brushing can prevent cavities and gingivitis.

Bathing: You want to make sure to bathe your dog when needed, like when they smell terrible but not to over-bathe them because that removes oils that are needed in your puppy's coat. When bathing your puppy treat them like an infant and make sure to test the water. If it is too warm for you, then it's too warm for your puppy. 

Nail Care: You must make your dog comfortable during this process. It might be easy to let them lick peanut butter as a treat the first few times to get them excited about grooming. When trimming their nails you want to be very careful not to cut too close to the quick. This can be very painful for your puppy. If your puppy has brown or black nails it back be hard to locate the quick, so try just taking off little bits at a time.

Trimming the Coat: It is best to cut your puppy's coat when it is damp, so after a bath. Puppies do not always need frequent trimmings but as they grow older they may need more, especially if your puppy has a thick coat. When trimming your puppy's coat you want to start from the back of the neck and work your way down to the legs. Just take a little bit off at a time because you do not want to over-trim your puppy's coat.

Make a Routine

It's important to add grooming into your puppy's schedule as early as possible to make sure they get used to it. If you wait too long this can be a stressful experience for your puppy. If you remember that your dog is a creature of habit, and when you're doing the grooming bring your dog to the same spot each time so they know how to react. For example, if you clean your dog in the kitchen make sure it continues to do so.

Getting your puppy to sit still and allow you to brush their fur and teeth more than once a week can be difficult but as long as you keep up with it, there shouldn't be any issues.

Professional Grooming for Puppies

Our grooming team at Thomasville Veterinary Hospital are often asked, "When can I take my puppy to the groomers?'.

A good time to start professional grooming is just after your puppy is old enough to leave their mother, so around 12 weeks. This will help to make a visit to the groomers a normal part of your dog's day to day life as they grow up and can make grooming less stressful for your beloved pup.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our Davidson County vets today to book your puppy's first professional grooming session or puppy examination.

How and when to groom your new puppy. Cute chocolate lab puppy on the grass looking at camera.

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