There are many benefits to having a long haired dog. They are adorable, snuggly, and best of all, nearly shed-free! With a continually growing coat, comes the need for regular grooming. Some owners opt to have a professional groomer take care of all their dog’s hygienic needs from bathing and haircuts to nail trims and anal gland expressions.
For some breeds this can mean visiting the groomer every few weeks which can be costly and time consuming. Learning to perform a few grooming tasks at home can ensure that your dog stays healthy and comfortable between visits to a professional.
One of the most important skills to master is the “potty patch”. This is the term often used to describe a hygienic trim of the hair around the anus and vulva or penis. It may seem a little gross and rather personal, but neglecting these areas can lead to fecal impactions, urinary tract infections and severe matting.
You should always begin an at-home grooming regimen when your dog is healthy and free from any mats or tangles. Study your dog’s coat immediately after a professional groom. The hair around his or her potty areas will be trimmed very short, but not “buzzed”.
-Check the potty areas frequently as your dog’s hair grows out. Look for fecal matter or irritation around the anus. Scooting is a sign that your dog is uncomfortable in the rear end and may need to be cleaned or trimmed back there. (Note: persistent scooting could be an issue with the anal glands- see your vet or groomer.)
-Invest in a professional pair of grooming scissors or a set of clippers meant for pet hair. Clippers come with different attachments to prevent you from cutting the hair too short, or Dog forbid, nicking your dog’s skin. Decide which tool you feel more comfortable with.
-Place your dog on a raised surface to make it easier for you to see what you are doing. If your dog hasn’t mastered the stay command, having a helper to keep him from bolting off the table is a good idea.
-Raise the tail so that it is completely vertical for trimming around the anus. This will provide a better view and cause the skin in that area to be pulled taut.
-Have your dog rest on his or her back for trimming around the penis or vulva. A second pair of hands to pet and calm your dog in this position is helpful.
-Remember, the goal is to keep the hair short and clean in these areas, NOT to cut it down to the skin. Trimming too short can be itchy and irritating to the skin.
-Clean around the anus and urinary area after your dog goes potty with organic baby wipes or wipes made especially for dogs’ sensitive skin to maintain cleanliness between trims.
If you are concerned that you have waited too long to maintain these areas and your dog has matting, skin irritation or signs of an infection, do not attempt to groom him or her yourself! Your veterinarian can assess the problem and perform a hygienic trim if necessary or refer you to a groomer.
Featured Image via @PetitePetInn/Instagram