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Grooming Puppies: When & How to Do It

Puppies are excitable little creatures, and grooming them can be a challenge. Plus, you'll need to think about when to start, which equipment to use, and other factors. In this post, our Voorhees vets share their expert advice on how to groom a puppy. 

When should I start grooming my puppy?

Have you recently welcomed a new puppy into your home? After they've had a few weeks to adapt to their surroundings, you'll need to start thinking about their first at-home grooming session. Ideally, it would be best if you introduced your puppy to grooming when they are around 10-12 weeks old, and no later than six months. 

To prepare your puppy for grooming, you'll want to take time to get your puppy used to being gently touched. You can do this by lifting their paws and massaging the pads and tips of their toes. 

You might also want to keep small treats containing chicken or cheese on hand to reward your puppy during their grooming session. This will help them associate grooming time with positive experiences and they will be more likely to enjoy the grooming ritual in the future. 

It's best to groom your puppy right after playtime. If your puppy is tired, they will settle down quickly and be easier to handle. Playtime can also be a bonus for your puppy as they become used to the grooming routine. 

What You Need For Your Puppy's Grooming Sessions

Depending on your puppy's specific coat type and brush needs, there are a few things you may need to do before grooming your young dog at home. Fine-toothed combs are best for puppies with thin coats. On the other hand, wide-toothed combs are better for puppies with thick coats. 

If you're unsure about your puppy's coat type, you can opt for a slicker brush, a versatile tool that works well on most dog hair types. 

In addition to a brush, make sure you have these items within easy reach:

  • Dog shampoo 
  • Dog toothbrush 
  • Dog toothpaste
  • Electric clippers 
  • Toenail clippers 
  • Cotton balls (for cleaning your puppy's ears)
  • Towels for drying 

How to Groom a Puppy

The first grooming session (and the many sessions to come) can be a positive experience for your puppy provided you plan in advance and complete all of the tasks needed to help maintain their health. Here are specific items to check off your grooming to-do list:

Teeth Brushing – Be patient when first attempting to brush your puppy's teeth, as your pup may try to nibble on both your hands and the toothbrush. However, brushing your puppy's teeth is essential to maintain their oral health, and daily brushing can help prevent cavities and gingivitis. Keep in mind that your puppy may not like you sticking your hands into their mouth; however, regular brushing is important. 

Bathing – While it's important to bathe your dog when needed (like after they've rolled in mud or garbage), do not over-bathe them, as this removes oils your puppy's coat needs to stay adequately moist. When bathing your puppy, treat them like an infant and check the temperature of the water to make sure it's not too warm (if it's too warm for you, it's too warm for your puppy). 

Nail Care – The key to successfully trimming your dog's nails is to keep them comfortable. Many pet stores sell special lick mats you can spread peanut butter on for your puppy to lick during their grooming session. While trimming their nails, be very careful not to cut too close to the quick, which can be very painful for puppies. If your puppy has black or brown nails, the quick will be difficult to see, so try trimming little sections of the nail at once.

Trimming the Coat: If you want to cut your puppy's coat, the best time to do it is when their fur is damp, which usually happens after a bath. Puppies generally do not require frequent trimmings, but as they get older, they may need more, especially if they have thick fur. When you are trimming your puppy's coat, start from the back of their neck and work your way down to their legs. Taking small amounts off at a time is advisable, so you do not end up over-trimming your puppy's coat.

Create a Grooming Routine

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

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

When can I take my puppy to the groomer's?

Grooming puppies can be stressful, and many owners opt to have a professional groomer handle the stress and mess of this task. Feel free to book your puppy's first professional grooming session with Voorhees Veterinary Center's experienced groomers once your young dog is 10-12 weeks old. 

Especially if you've just adopted a puppy or dog and are hesitant to groom them, or if your young dog has special needs when it comes to grooming, you may feel better bringing them in to a professional groomer. Additionally, it's ideal to get your puppy used to being groomed, both at home and professionally, at a young age in case you are ever unable to groom them yourself.  This way, you'll prevent them from feeling overwhelmed at a grooming salon as they age. 

A professional groomer can also offer guidance on which grooming equipment to use during at-home grooming sessions and tips for keeping your puppy safe during the process. 

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.

Looking to schedule your puppy's first grooming session? Contact our Voorhees vets to book an appointment for your pooch today.

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