It’s true: washing your dog can make a big mess. They are squirmy and water inevitably will be sprayed everywhere. But in the long term, regular cleaning habits for you and your pet will ensure that your dog stays healthy and your home stays clean. Include these five tasks in your regular dog care and you will make your home a much better place for both you and your pet.
* Regularly groom your dog. Keep your dog’s hair trimmed and neat to limit shedding. Dogs with longer, straight hair only shed completely twice a year, but that still translates into a steady layer of fur on your furniture. Short-haired dogs shed much more frequently. Both need regular brushing (outside!) to keep the shedding under control when the dogs are in the home. It will help remove dirt as well as loose fur, and better distribute the dog’s natural oils around their fur.
* Get your dog accustomed to regular bathing. This will also help remove fur and limit odors on your dog, who may have a penchant for lying on your couch. Under ordinary circumstances, a monthly bath should be sufficient. Only use soaps and shampoos that are formulated for veterinary use, so the natural oils in your pet’s fur remain and their skin isn’t irritated. Clean the dog’s ears to catch any hiding insects, check for fleas, and trim their nails to keep the floor free of scratches. Be sure to start this routine when the dog is a puppy, as old dogs have a more difficult time adjusting.
* Brush your dog’s teeth. Most vets recommend two times a week for healthy teeth and gums. Purchase toothpaste and a toothbrush for dogs, available at most pet stores. Brush the front teeth up-and-down and the back in a circular motion.
* Only use ceramic or stainless steel bowls for your dog’s food and water. Both materials are dishwasher safe and somewhat resistant to bacteria, keeping your kitchen clean and your dog healthy. Wash them on a daily basis—it might be helpful to do this just before you feed your dog each day, to ensure that his food isn’t contaminated and the bowls get washed regularly.
* Only purchase toys for your dog that are easy to wash and dry, and clean them regularly. Dirty toys will smell and promote bacterial growth wherever your dog leaves them, and they can pose a risk to his health. Hard plastic and rubber are good options, as long as they are made of materials that aren’t dangerous for your dog in case he accidentally eats parts of them.
In addition to caring for his hygiene and health, be sure that your dog gets as much attention and affection as you can give him. If you and your dog truly enjoy one another, these cleaning routines won’t seem like chores at all—rather, they will be nice things you do for someone you love.