Nose to tail care in dogs

We’ve gone from nose to tail to give you some tips to help care for your dog. Most of these tips can be undertaken by the dog owner at home. If in doubt, seek advice and training from a qualified veterinarian or, where applicable, a professional dog groomer. 

The following areas are covered:

  • Ear Care
  • Eye Care
  • Nose Care
  • Oral Care
  • Coat Care
  • Claw Care
  • Anal Care

Ear Care

  • Inspect your dogs ears once a week 
  • Only clean when there is build up of wax, debris or discharge – cleaning unnecessarily or too often can cause more harm than good
  • Use a pet formulated ear cleanser – hydrogen peroxide or alcohol containing cleansers can be irritant. Some cleansers also remove excess wax and some are antibacterial and antifungal 
  • Follow cleanser instructions, but aim to allow a few drops into the ear canal and massage the base of the ear to allow the cleanser to spread around the ear
  • Be gentle and don’t insert objects into the ear such as cotton buds
  • Ensure hair around the ear is clean, trimmed and not matted
  • Seek veterinary advice if you are not sure
  • Reward your dog with a treat after cleaning their ears to promote positive reinforcement with the experience. 

Eye Care

  • Check your dogs eyes daily for discharge or debris
  • Wipe clean with a damp watered cloth or cotton wall from the inside corner outwards
  • Use a different cloth for each eye in case one is infected
  • Eyes should be bright and clear, not red
  • Look out for changes to the eyes: swelling, increased discharge or your dogs behaviour towards the eyes (e.g. rubbing)
  • Seek veterinary advice if you suspect an eye infection or issue
eye care in dogs

Nose Care

  • A dry nose isn’t necessarily an unhealthy nose, but it mustn’t be crusty or have discharge or sores. A dry nose could be an indicator of allergies
  • Groom the hair around the nose, brush longer hair to remove debris which may irritate the nose   
  • Use warm water and a washcloth to clean your dog’s nose
  • Providing clean water throughout the day will prevent dehydration, which can lead to a cracked nose
  • Protect your dog from excessive exposures to harsh conditions – e.g. wind, sun etc. A balm on the nose can act as a barrier from the elements
  • Consult your vet if you are concerned about your dogs nose

Oral Care

  • Daily toothbrushing is the best way to promote good oral hygiene in dogs
  • Start inspecting a dogs mouth and cleaning their teeth from a puppy to get them used to fingers or a toothbrush in their mouth
  • Begin by allowing the dog to lick the toothpaste and rub your finger along their cheek, before introducing the toothbrush
  • Start with the front teeth before moving to the back teeth – you can build up gradually over the course of a couple weeks
  • Certain chews and sticks have some effect at reducing plaque
  • A dog specific toothpaste is required as human ones can be toxic
  • Avoid sugary treats which can lead to bacteria build up
  • Look out for bad breath: this could be a sign of dental or kidney disease or diabetes
  • Spot signs of gum disease – for example loose teeth, red bleeding gums or difficulty picking up food
  • Consult your vet if your dog has excess plaque which you cannot remove yourself, continued bad breath, if you suspect gum disease or any other abnormality
tooth care in dogs

Coat Care

  • Grooming your dog daily is a pleasurable bonding experience for both dog and owner
  • In addition to brushing, a monthly or fortnightly bath helps remove old hair and skin cells. Bathing more regularly can do more harm as it can strip your dog’s coat of it’s natural oils
  • Medicated shampoos can treat and prevent skin conditions such as mange
  • A worming and flea treatment regime will help prevent fleas, parasites or ticks invading the coat
  • A complete and nutritious diet will promote a healthy coat including Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Keep an eye out for your dog scratching or itching certain areas, changes to the coat, a dullness or bald patches and seek advice from your vet if such occurrences develop. 

Claw Care

  • Keeping your dogs claws trimmed will help prevent overgrowth and reduce the chance of your dog injuring itself by scratching with a sharp claw
  • Don’t trim too short, just the tip, horizontally across
  • Use proper dog nail clippers
  • Lots of walking on roads will reduce the need to trim your dog’s claws
  • Check the claws approx every 3 – 4 weeks – it’s better to remove small amounts of excess claw regularly than large amounts occasionally
  • Give your dog a treat so it associates claw care as a positive experience 
  • Leaving the claws too long can lead to decreased traction, mobility problems or even cause pain 
  • If you aren’t confident in clipping your own dogs’ claws, take it to a professional dog groomer
claw care in dogs

Anal Care

  • Anal glands are two glands situated either sides of a dogs anus which can become blocked 
  • The anal glands release a liquid which is used in marking
  • Healthy anal glands empty when a dog passes a stool, however, they can become blocked
  • A foul smell, scooting across the floor or looking at and licking the anus are signs of blocked anal glands
  • Left untreated, blocked anal glands can lead to infection or abscesses
  • Veterinary intervention is often required to empty blocked anal glands – owners need to be confident and know what they are doing so it is best to seek guidance from a vet
  • The vet will feel inside the anus and palpate and squeeze them to get them to empty
  • Antibiotics may be required
  • The process may need to be repeated every few weeks
  • Feed your dogs a fibrous diet to prevent diarrhoea or loose stools as firmer stools help empty the glands without intervention
  • Dogs who are overweight have weaker muscles around the anus, making it harder for the glands to empty naturally. 

We hope you have found this information useful. Please share it with those who may also benefit. At IWCT, we strive to promote Responsible Pet Ownership. If you can, please consider making a donation towards our Education Programme. You can donate from as little as £1 or 70PHP. 

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