A proper grooming routine is a vital part of health and wellbeing and absolutely essential for many breeds - even if you use a professional groomer, you still need to maintain in between visits. Itchy, uncomfortable irritated skin or matted fur can be a huge welfare issue as well as the root of some tricky behaviour issues. But grooming itself, however important, can be a highly stressful experience which is overwhelming for dogs in terms of discomfort and sensory overload. And it doesn't have to (and shouldn't) be!
There is a huge amount of grooming 'paraphernalia' on the market and we have pared this right back to the small number of 'core' products and equipment we use with most dogs to keep their skin and coats glowing with health. This list has been put together with the help of some of our lovely 'consent and choice' based grooming colleagues - there may be specific pieces of other equipment you need for particular breeds, but this list here is a good place to start.
Tools are more about how you use them than the tools themselves, but some tools make it easier to groom kindly and gently.
For short, smooth-coated breeds, we really love using a Kong Zoom Groom. It's great at removing dead hairs, easy to wash and keep clean and as long as you don't press really hard on delicate areas, we find it's pretty gentle and dogs that are comfortable with being touched can really enjoy the massage effect. For dogs with longer coats, it's important to get through to the skin, but GENTLY, you don't want to tug or scratch. A flexi-slicker has a bit more give than a solid slicker so eases the pressure and makes it a bit more comfortable. These two will will help you get a basic brush through done with most (not all) coats and are the ones we always have in our grooming kit. You may also need a comb. Do talk to your groomer for more specific advice for your individual dog. And why not use something like a lickimat to keep your dog calm and occupied and make it a nice experience?
Few dogs really enjoy being washed, and in general, we tend to prefer to spot clean and only bath occasionally, but there are times when it is definitely essential - usually in the Winter when mud, salt off the roads and the odd dollop of cow pat and fox poo just have to be removed. We carefully rinse our dogs legs after every walk (a great time to check for cuts, scrapes and seeds too) and use a portable outdoor shower so the water is warm. That, a lickimat during the shower and following up with a chew after means that post-walk baths are a comfortable ritual not a stress.
Dog shampoo and conditioning products often don't have the same level of scrutiny (or transparency of ingredients) that human products do and they can be heavily fragranced (which is potentially awful for your dog when you think about how sensitive their noses are - what we smell will be thousands of times more intense to them). There are now some great brands which list their ingredients, avoid all the usual nasties, keep fragrance mild and some are even quite environmentally friendly too...... and they wash well and keep coats feeling and looking great! They are the only products we currently use.
If you're interested in 'clean' products and the safety profiles of ingredients, there isn't anything specific to pets, but there are lots of guides on the internet. We have found this to be quite an easy to read guide from a human product perspective - and many of the ingredients are the same in pet ones too. We like it as it also references some of the underpinning research.
Drying could be a quick wipe of the paws after a relatively dry walk or a full towel-off after a downpour or bath. Take your time around sensitive areas and be mindful that painful areas can be easily aggravated if you rub over them too hard (not to mention tangling longer coats.
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This quite particular to individual coats, but we like to have on hand a pair of straight grooming scissors and a pair of thinning scissors and find this gets done most of what is needed between full grooms. We don't stock clippers on here and suggest if you need these you discuss with your groomer which will be suitable for your dog to avoid expensive mistakes.
We don't find there is a big need for this, but occasionally a bit of extra help can be really useful (particularly for dogs coming out of rescue whose coats and skin might be in need of additional tlc). These are the products that we like to reach for if we need them.