Chapter Six – Grooming

Chapter Six – Grooming


Reasons for grooming


There are many different reasons for grooming. The reasons can be broadly categorised under five headings and can be remembered easily by using the word ‘CHAIR’:


  1. Cleanliness
  2. Health
  3. Appearance
  4. Inspection
  5. Relationship


Pre Bathing Procedures

 A systematic approach should be followed when grooming animals.  All animals should receive a full health during the pre bath routine and certain procedures carried out as required:


 Eye care


Special eye wipes or moistened cotton wool can be used. Wipe from the inside out and use a new wipe or piece of cotton wool for each eye.


 Ear care


If the ears are not too dirty then a moistened piece of cotton wool can be used to clean them. Wipe any ear wax or dirt from the ear canal and then the pinna.  If the ears are really dirty then they will need cleaning properly with an ear cleaner.  Insert the nozzle of the ear cleaner into the ear and squeeze to release some fluid.  Massage the base of the ear to disperse the solution and then wipe out with cotton wool. Wipe out again with a new piece of cotton wool if necessary. Cotton buds should never be used down the ear canal.


 Certain breeds have very hairy ears which can cause irritation and infections. The hairs on the inside of the ear and just inside the ear canal can be plucked by first applying some ear plucking powder to the external part of the ear flap only (any powder entering the ear canal may turn to a paste and block the canal) and then firmly and quickly pulling a few hairs at a time with the thumb and forefinger. Artery forceps are sometimes used for this but must be used with extreme care.



Mouth care

The mouth and teeth should be checked and any abnormalities noted. Some dogs will tolerate having their teeth brushed but this should only be done with a special canine toothpaste and brush. Removal of tartar should be carried out by a Veterinary Surgeon.


Facial care


Some breeds of dog such as the Shar Pei or Pug may require attention to prevent inflammation and infections in the facial skin folds. The skin should be wiped  in the same direction as the lie of the coat with moistened cotton wool and then dried with a soft towel.


Nail and claw care


All dogs have four toes with a pad and nail on each foot with the exception of a few breeds such as Pyrenean Mountain dogs and Newfoundlands which sometimes have supernumerary toes. Nails are also sometimes present higher up on the inside of the leg known as dew claws



Nails should remain just clear of, or just touching, the ground when standing normally. Active healthy dogs do not need frequent nail clipping as the nails will wear down with everyday use. An exception may be the dew law which can sometimes grow round into the nail bed if left unchecked (although they tend to be slow growing in most breeds).


The procedure for clipping nails in dogs is as follows:


Correctly restrain the animal


  1. Spread each foot and inspect the area between the toes
  2. Select the correct nail clipper
  3. Squeeze each toe gently to extend the nail
  4. Locate the quick (nerve and blood supply)
  5. Cut below the quick
  6. Smooth any rough edges with a nail file





Anal Glands


The anal glands are situated on either side of the anus with their ducts leading to openings at the anal rim.  Occasionally a duct can get full or blocked and the anal sac will need to be emptied.



The procedure for emptying anal glands is as follows (NB this is no longer a groomer procedure):


  1. Wear gloves (anal gland contents will smell!)
  2. Have an assistant restrain the animal
  3. Place a pad of cotton wool across the palm of one hand
  4. Raise the tail with the other hand
  5. With the middle finger and thumb placed on either side of the anus squeeze gently pushing upwards towards the anus. At the same time, squeeze upwards with the other fingers partly behind the anal gland to empty the contents.
  6. Clean the area up and dispose of contaminated cotton wool



Grooming Out


Unless the coat is groomed regularly all dogs will require a thorough brush through to remove dead hair, knots and mats prior to bathing.  To ensure no areas are missed it is best to work to a routine:


  • Start at the foot of one of the rear legs
  • Work your way up the leg and into the body
  • Continue along the side of the body and into the shoulder
  • Move onto the foot of the front leg and meet up with the shoulder
  • Brush out the chest and throat working your way round to the back of the neck
  • Brush one side of the head, the ear and beard and then do the other side of the head
  • Repeat the same process on the other side of the body
  • Finish by brushing the tailBrush from the bottom of the coat outwards, ensuring you are brushing from the skin and not just skimming over the top. Keeping tension on the skin helps prevent pulling. Over brushing an area or too vigorous brushing can lead to brush burns, which will result in sore, red skin. Care should also be taken when brushing the more delicate areas around the face, groin and armpits.Once brushing is complete the coat should be combed through to identify any knots or mats that may have been missed. Some coat types will require specific combing techniques i.e. a wool coat should be combed from the base and tossed outwards and a silk coat should be combed straight down from root to tip.  Wire coats that are hand stripped should be stripped out prior to bathing as bathing softens the coat making it more difficult to strip.If a coat is badly matted then using a de-matter, scissors or clippers may be necessary.





A variety of baths are available, most in a professional grooming salon will incorporate shower attachments and some modern purpose built baths use recycled water. You can also use walk in shower areas for large dogs but whatever you use there should be a non slip bottom or matt. Some dogs will react to the pressure of a shower hose so start with the pressure low to begin with.




Bathing can be done as often as needed provided the shampoo used does not strip the coat of its natural oils.


Before you start bathing it is essential that all equipment is prepared and at hand as the dog should not be left unattended during the procedure.  The equipment you will need is:


  • PPE
  • Appropriate shampoo (ready diluted)
  • Appropriate conditioner (if required)
  • Bathing restraints
  • Shampoo brush
  • Absorbent cloth
  • Towel


There are five main types of shampoo:



  • Cleansing – Contain strong substances that act against grease and dirt
  • Mild – Remove grease and dirt but leave in some natural oils
  • Medicated – Contain mild anti-bacterial agents
  • Veterinary – Prescribed for certain skin conditions
  • Insecticidal – Kills parasites


There are many shampoos available but most fit into one of the above categories.


Conditioners and coat treatments are also readily available and are used during bathing for detangling and nourishing the coat and skin.  Contact time for the conditioners will vary according to both the coat type and brand.  There are also leave in conditioners and various styling treatments.


List the shampoos and conditioners available at the college, state what type they are, describe instructions for use and the dilution rate.


How To Bath A Dog


  1. Put on waterproof apron and any other required PPE
  2. Chose and prepare appropriate shampoo and conditioner
  3. Secure the dog in the bath
  4. Turn shower on gently and check the water temperature on the inside of your wrist
  5. Wet the dog thoroughly, keeping the shower head close to the body at all times
  6. Start at the shoulders and work your way back over the body, down the legs and tail and then finally wet the head
  7. Work the water through the coat to ensure total saturation (particularly important for double coated breeds)
  8. When doing the head, tilt the head back with one hand covering the eyes at the same time if possible.  Shower from behind the eyes, down the ears, keeping the ear flaps close to the head and then the muzzle.
  9. Apply shampoo, beginning at the dog’s tail, followed by the back legs and feet, body and undercarriage, the front legs and feet, shoulders and chest and then carefully the head
  10.  Massage the shampoo into the coat paying particular attention to the undercarriage, inside of legs and the feet
  11. Avoid getting any water or shampoo into the ears, eyes or nose
  12.  Rinse the dog from head to tail using your hand to push the suds and water through the coat. The coat should squeak as you push the water through
  13. Repeat the shampoo procedure if required and rinse thoroughly.
  14.  Apply conditioner if required and follow instructions regarding contact time and rinsing
  15.  Squeeze the excess water from the coat with an absorbent cloth
  16.  Cover the dog with a towel and towel dry before moving to the table for appropriate drying method



Please Note:


If you get shampoo in the dog’s eyes, ears or mouth it should be rinsed away immediately.


It is really important the coat is properly rinsed of shampoo and conditioner as residue can leave the coat sticky and greasy making it difficult to dry and style correctly.  It will also cause irritation to the dog.


Drying is not just done to dry the coat but also to remove any knots or tangles and to remove dead undercoat.  There are many pieces of equipment available:


Absorbent cloths:


Remove excess water from the coat and should be done whilst the animal is still in the bath. These can be wrung out and use again




Used after removing excess water with the absorbent cloth. Do not over rub long coats or you will cause it to tangle



Hand held dryers:


Not the easiest or quickest way to dry a dog but can be used for small or difficult to reach areas. The heat from these can be very hot so do not hold too close or dry one area for too long at a time



Stand dryers:


These are dryers attached to a stand leaving your hands free to brush the dog at the same time, particularly important for fluff drying curly coated breeds. They usually have powerful motors with variable heat and speed settings and the height is adjustable