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In a hurry? Scroll down for Small Bites Quick Guide: Daily Grooming Kit.
For the past four decades, I’ve never gone to bed or begun the day without washing my face, brushing my teeth, and moisturizing my skin. All of these, twice daily, every day, without fail. As a result–most of the time–I’m blessed with good skin and a happy smile.
Like pretty much anything in life, success is the byproduct not of rushed resolutions and flurried activity once a week or twice a month but of our daily habits. And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to the habits surrounding our family’s health …including our furry members. We’ve found that nearly the same habits that bring comfort and health to us can do the same for our dogs: daily grooming that involves clean faces, fresh teeth, and healthy skin.
But first, true confessions.
When we were big dog people, we admit we weren’t great with daily grooming. Our golden retrievers would be brushed, of course, but it was usually a huge ordeal on a Saturday, involving an hour of wrestling with a golden retriever who preferred being groomed in the least cooperative posture possible: flat on his back with his tummy the only exposed area. I’d end up with clingy blonde hair literally everywhere but in the brown grocery bag where I tried to corral it—-it would be on my black leggings, between the deck boards, in my mouth– ev.er.y.where. It was an ineffective system and did little to control the shedding, but it was better than nothing, so we stuck with the once-weekly brushing at home.
Daily, Not Weekly Brushing (Two Minutes)
Scruffy Scout In Need Of Grooming
Since becoming a small dog family, however, and switching from dogs with fur to dogs with hair, we learned quickly that mere weekly brushing won’t cut it. Can you imagine if you only brushed your own hair once a week? Scary. And not in a fun, haunted-house kind of way. After seeing painful snarls and knots quickly develop on our Havanese, especially in the first year when they’re shedding their puppy coats, we developed a new routine that’s now morphed into a habit: a daily two-minute, all-over brush, paying attention to heads, body, legs, paws and tail. We use the smallest wire brush we could find, as the larger ones span too far past their little body parts and can tend to poke them. This is the small dog slicker brush we like best.
Freshly Washed Faces (Two Minutes)
Our next daily routine occurs right along with mine: the washing of the face. When allergy season arrives in the Spring, our pups tend to get sneezy and their tear stains increase. So in addition to adding Nettle to their diets, we started washing their faces using warm water and organic baby muslin washcloths. After the wash, we wipe any trace of tear tracks with Eye Envy Tear Stain solution, an all-natural product with witch hazel and colloidal silver. It does wonders for lightening the stains some small dogs tend to develop as a result of seasonal or food allergies. Once their faces are washed, we comb their snouts and chins .
Shiny Teeth (One Minute)
At that point, Phoebe and Scout like to insist their daily indignities are over, and they start trotting off, but we snuggle them on our laps for a quick swipe of the washcloth on their teeth. At some point, we may move to actual toothbrushing, but our pups tend to have pretty clean teeth and so far, the tooth wiping works well.
These Three Things
That’s it!! These three things, every day: we wash their faces, we wipe their teeth, and we brush their hair. All in, the process takes no more than about three minutes per dog, and they’re always ready for prime time (so important with all the pawparazzi around!). But more important than their gorgeous looks are the mental and physical health benefits of daily grooming habits.
Mental and Physical Benefits
The payoff of these daily DIY grooming habits is priceless:
- Daily DIY grooming almost eliminates matted or tangled hair that can require painful de-matting or shaving that will leave your dog feeling naked.
- Daily grooming provides a natural bonding opportunity, especially as your pup becomes used to you brushing and handling her.
- Wiping the teeth daily isn’t as effective as tooth brushing, we know, but it does provide an additional measure of cleanliness and helps guard your small dog’s teeth because you’ll know immediately if gums or teeth need further attention.
- Grooming your dog every day ensures you’re a hands-on guardian who is much more likely to find minor health problems before they become major. We’ve all known caring dog dads who’ve missed a hidden hotspot that became infected or a lump that tragically metastasized. Don’t be that pet parent.
- And, the LEAST important (but most enjoyable) benefit of daily grooming your dog at home is the added joy of cuddling with a soft, fresh-smelling fur kid.
Start today. You don’t really need special equipment…just a brush, a comb, and any washcloth to start!
But, if you like to be a bit extra (that’s one of our things), we’ve put together our Small Bites Quick Guide: Daily Grooming Kit Guide, where we share our easy tips for sticking with daily habits. And, we’ll show you what we like in our dog spa!
Small Bites Quick Guide: Daily Grooming Kit and Tips
Five minutes a day is all you need for grooming to transform your small dog’s appearance, bolster their mental and physical health, and cement your bond.
- Wash Face: wash their face with warm water, paying special attention to the eyes and snout. For long-haired breeds, use a comb to unsnarl the snout, chin, and ears.
- Brush Hair: use a small slicker brush for ears, body, legs, paws, and tail. Don’t stress if you find snarls when you first begin and don’t ruin the experience by pulling on them. They’ll work their way out over the coming days, if you stick with it daily. Anything that doesn’t naturally unravel should be snipped with safety dog grooming scissors.
- Wipe Teeth: Use the opposite side of your washcloth to wipe your pup’s teeth and gums, doing a visual check for any dental issues.
Small Bite Tip: Think of a couple of places in your day when you can fit this in. We do this either in the mornings in our bathroom as we’re getting ready or at night in the kitchen while making dinner. On weekends, we do our speed grooming when making calls to check in on family members. We keep separate “kits” in the places where we’re likely to get the job done so nothing interferes with those few moments we have in our day. One is in our bathroom and one is in our kitchen catch-all drawer.
Daily Grooming Kit