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Dog Grooming Basics

Grooming is an essential element of pet ownership because grooming promotes good health and helps to form a bond between you and your dog. Here are a few grooming basics from our Voorhees vets at Voorhees Veterinary Center.

Grooming Basics for Dogs

The grooming needs of your dog will be largely determined by its breed and lifestyle. Dogs who spend a lot of time outside or have very long or thick coats will require more grooming than dogs with short hair or who spend most of their time indoors. Having said that, all dogs require basic grooming on a regular basis to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Starting a regular grooming routine while your pet is young is key to making grooming calm and enjoyable activity for you and your dog.


Bathing your dog on a regular basis will help to remove dirt and debris from his coat and keep him smelling fresh. To clean your dog's fur, bathe him in warm (not hot) water and use a specially formulated dog shampoo. Human shampoo should never be used on your dog because human formulations can cause dry and irritated skin. Rinse your dog thoroughly to ensure that all shampoo is removed. Use a dog-specific detangling conditioner to make brushing easier if your dog has very long or difficult fur.

Short-haired dogs may not need to be bathed more than once every 3 months, however, dogs with longer fur, or very active outdoor lifestyles, may benefit from a monthly plunge. If you're unsure of how often you should bathe your dog, once a month is a good rule of thumb.


Many dogs enjoy having their coats brushed. Brushing your dog on a regular basis helps to prevent matting, removes old hair from the coat, and may help to prevent skin irritation. Weekly brushing also allows you to monitor your dog's skin and coat health and may reduce the amount of loose fur in your home.

For most dogs, weekly brushing is ideal, although some breeds such as Portuguese Water Dogs or Bichon Frise will need to be brushed more frequently to keep their coat looking great.

Nail Trimming

All dog breeds require nail trimming. To trim your dog's nails, use nail clippers made specifically for dogs. Rotary nail trimmers are preferred by some dogs, but they are more time consuming to use.

If you are nervous about cutting your dog's nails, or if your dog won't tolerate you trimming their nails, make an appointment with a professional groomer. A trained groomer can get your dog's nails trimmed quickly and calmly so you won't have to worry.


Different breeds have very different requirements when it comes to haircuts. Speak to your Voorhees vet to find out how often your dog should have a haircut.  

To begin giving your dog a haircut, first bathe and towel-dry him. Then, using a sharp pair of scissors, trim the fur around your pet's face and feet. Finally, trim the rest of your dog's fur with electric clippers.

Professional groomers have all the tools to make haircuts for your dog quick and easy. If you'd like to leave your dog's haircut to the professionals, contact us for more information.

How Dogs React to Grooming

Dogs react to grooming in various ways depending on their individual temperament and past experiences. Some dogs may enjoy the attention and relaxation of being groomed, while others may become anxious or agitated during the process. It is important for groomers to be patient and gentle with each dog, using positive reinforcement techniques to help create a positive association with grooming.

How Groomers Calm Dogs

Groomers calm dogs by using gentle and soothing techniques such as speaking in a soft, reassuring tone, petting them in a slow and gentle manner, and providing treats as positive reinforcement. Additionally, groomers may use aromatherapy with calming scents like lavender or chamomile to help relax the dogs during the grooming process.

Another technique groomers use to calm dogs is desensitization, where they gradually introduce grooming tools and procedures to the dog in a non-threatening way. This helps the dog become more comfortable with the grooming process over time and reduces their anxiety.

The Importance of Grooming

Grooming dogs is important for their overall health and well-being. Regular grooming helps to prevent matting of the fur, which can lead to skin irritation and infections. It also allows for early detection of any skin issues or abnormalities that may require veterinary attention.

In addition, grooming helps to maintain a clean and tidy appearance for your dog. This can improve their comfort level and reduce shedding around the house. Furthermore, grooming provides an opportunity to check for ticks, fleas, or other pests that could be harmful to your dog's health.

Is grooming a cat different from grooming a dog?

Yes, cat grooming is different from dog grooming in several ways. Cats have different coat types and grooming needs compared to dogs, requiring specialized tools and techniques. Additionally, cats are known for their independent nature and may be more sensitive to the grooming process compared to dogs, requiring a gentle touch and patience from the groomer. 

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.

Your dog's specific grooming requirements will largely depend upon the breed and lifestyle of your pet. That said, all dogs require regular basic grooming to keep them looking and feeling their very best. Contact our Voorhees vets to book an appointment for your dog today.

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Voorhees Veterinary Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of New Jersey's companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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