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by morieka V. Johnson

time. For longhaired dogs, proper grooming can help them not only look good, but feel better, as well. “Extreme matting


et’s face it, a smelly pet can put a serious damper on cuddle

The greenest and least costly way to safely dry a dog

can cause a health risk to pets,” explains DeAndre Upton, a registered veteri- nary technician in Conyers, Georgia. “Dogs have a natural amount of yeast and bacteria on their skin, and matting causes moisture to be trapped under the coat, leading to hot spots and exces- sive itching, which increases the risk of staph infections.” Perhaps that’s why pet owners today spend billions of dollars on grooming products, according

is to simply take the dog for a long walk after bath time.

to the American Pet Prod- ucts Association. “People just look at pets differently today; they are mem- bers of the family now,” remarks Michael Bryant, owner of Snazzy-Pet Full Service Mobile Grooming, in Atlanta. “People realize that it’s important to do the right thing for them.”

But how often should the family dog get a sudsy rubdown? That depends on the dog, Upton says. “Dogs that stay in the house don’t need baths as frequently as dogs that spend more time outside. Once a month is a good general rule of thumb; your nose will tell you when it’s time to take action.” Here are the professional tips

Bryant follows to make bath time bet- ter for everybody: Comfort is key: Create a comfort-

able workspace. Place necessary items within reach, including shampoo, a rub- ber brush for massaging the animal and a towel. “Bathing two big dogs back-to-

60 NA Triangle

back can easily leave you with an achy back,” Bryant observes. “I sit pets on a small, sturdy table in the shower so that I can do much less bending.” He also suggests attaching a hose to the bathtub or shower faucet, making sure to monitor the water temperature. In warm months, bathing the dog out- side means less mess and a shorter dry- ing time. “I set the nozzle to mist and let the water fall onto the dog’s body,” he advises. “This helps his body more easily acclimate to the cooler water temperature.” Take your time: Some dogs just

don’t like bath time, no matter how much you coax or cajole or crank up your temper. To handle fussy dogs, ap- ply plenty of patience. It also helps to have a few of the animal’s favorite treats on hand. In working with bath-shy dogs, this professional groomer finds that gentle and slow is the way to go. Regardless of how messy the pro-

cess gets, avoid getting excess water in the dog’s ear canal, because it can lead to ear infections. Bryant recommends drying the dog completely before cleaning its ears. Don’t neglect the paws: Keep nails trimmed regularly. Bryant notes that many pet owners are anxious about clipping a pet’s nails and fear acciden- tally cutting off too much. He suggests seeking professional advice. Ask your groomer or vet assistant for a five-min- ute lesson on the finer points of using pet nail clippers to deliver a clean cut. It can save a lot of anxiety. Longhaired dogs also need the hair trimmed between their paw pads. “Most people have hardwood or tile floors, and it can be difficult for a dog to get around on those hard surfaces if their hair is too long,” he cautions.

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