What tools do dog groomers use? If you’re thinking of doing your own dog grooming at home, even if it is between visits to your professional dog groomer, you need the right tools. The right groomers’ tools can make the difference between a good session and a total disaster. In this section of The BarxBuddy Guide to Dog Grooming, you’ll find a helpful list of items you might need to bathe and groom your dog.
Tools for Grooming Dog Hair
While you don’t have to go out and break the bank on grooming tools, you will need to grab some basics to properly groom your dog.
Types of dog grooming combs and brushes
- Pin brushes are effective as finishing brushes and removing loose hair.
- Bristle brushes are best for dogs with short or smooth hair coats.
- Slicker brushes, like a self-cleaning brush, are ideal for medium to long hair or curly hair that mats.
- Curry comb is a rubber brush used to massage and remove loose hair.
- Standard grooming combs are designed for longer-haired coats.
- Dematting combs are useful for long-haired or curly coats.
- Undercoat rakes can help loosen tangles and matting.
- Flea combs are fine-teeth to remove fleas from a dog’s coat.
Types of shampoos and soaps for dogs
When buying shampoo and soap for your pet, avoid artificial fragrances and dyes. Things to consider include your dog’s type of skin and coat. If your dog has dry skin, opt for a shampoo that contains oatmeal or jojoba oil. For sensitive skin, look for hypoallergenic shampoo.
A silky fine-haired dog coat that knots or mats easily would warrant a detangling shampoo, while a shampoo that addresses shedding is essential if your dog leaves a pile of fur with every step.
You may be tempted to use your dish liquid or hand soap to scrub up your pet. Unfortunately, these can strip the natural oils that protect your dog’s skin. The best soap to use on a dog is a mild, hypoallergenic soap that is “formulated for veterinary use.” This statement shows the soap contains no harsh chemicals and won’t irritate your dog’s skin.
- Flea and tick
- Sensitive skin
Dog grooming equipment
Most dogs don’t require any kind of special dog grooming equipment like a doggie tub. If your dog is small enough to fit in the sink, lucky you. Use your bathtub or shower with a detachable nozzle for bathing larger dogs. You can bathe your dog outside with your garden hose, provided the water is warm enough so your dog doesn’t get chilled. Whether it’s your sink, tub, or shower, ensure the surface is non-slip. Lay down a towel where your dog will stand or sit if necessary.
Grooming tips for long and short-haired dogs
For long-haired dogs, it’s best if you:
- Brush your dog often, some breeds require daily brushing.
- Apply a mist or spray conditioner or detangler on hair as you brush the fur.
- Give your dog a regular haircut, either DIY or a professional groomer.
For short-haired dogs, it’s best if you:
- Brush your dog regularly, to reduce or eliminate shedding.
- Use a curry comb with short-haired dogs.
Tools for Your Dog’s Dental Hygiene
For your dog’s overall health and wellness, it is crucial you stay up on his dental hygiene. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in adult dogs. It’s also highly preventable. Poor dental care can lead to a host of issues including heart disease, some cancers and diabetes mellitus. Here are the tools you need to take care of your pet’s chompers (and gums).
You have several options for dog toothbrushes. You can select a standard one that resembles a human toothbrush, except with a long handle and smaller bristle heads. Another option is a double-sided toothbrush that has a larger side for the back of the mouth. There are topical wipes that help prevent plaque build-up and even finger toothbrushes.
Before you reach for your favorite Colgate or Crest, stop. Human toothpaste is not safe for dogs! Some human toothpaste contains an artificial sweetener, called Xylitol. This ingredient is toxic to dogs and can cause blood sugar drops and potentially damage the dog’s liver.
When shopping for dog toothpaste, look for a brand that has a tasty flavor like bacon, or beef, (yum, right?) so your dog will actually like it when you brush his teeth. Avoid foaming agents. Look for one that contains enzymes that reduce bacteria, lessens tartar buildup, and improves bad breath. If you’re in doubt about a flavor or brand, buy a small tube first and see how your pet likes it.
Quick dental do’s and don’ts
- Do brush your dog’s teeth daily for small dogs (more prone to dental disease). Larger dogs brush every other day.
- Do offer your dog dental chews or sticks regularly.
- Do call your vet if you notice your pet has bad breath, tartar build-up, redness and/or bleeding around the gums.
- Don’t use your own toothpaste on your dog.
Clippers or Trimmers for Dog Hair and Nails
The various options of clippers and trimmers for dog hair and nails seem endless. Here’s what you need to look for when buying these grooming tools.
Clippers or trimmers for dog hair
The type of coat your dog has will influence the type of clippers or trimmers needed. You need to consider how often you’ll use the clippers, say every four to eight weeks for major cleanups and once every week or two for a quick trim. To accommodate the length, thickness, and how the hair grows e.g. straight, wavy, or curly your clippers will need to have adjustable or changeable blades.
There are three categories of dog hair clipper blades:
- Wide clipper blades are best suited for larger dogs, whereas for smaller dogs, pet owners should look for a narrow blade set.
- Skip-tooth blades excel at cutting through thick or matted hair. Never use this type of clipper blade if your dog is wet because it can pull the fur, causing your dog pain.
- Finishing blades are typically used after bath time to “finish” the initial haircut.
Tips for buying hair clippers
The quieter the pair of clippers the better. Loud sounds for a pair of clippers may cause or increase your dog’s anxiety.
Typical clippers are corded; however, new styles offer cordless, rechargeable sets. A cordless set might make grooming easier and quicker to get through.
All clippers get hot after a period of use. Make sure you avoid pairs that heat up fast. When clippers heat up quickly you will need to stop and start your grooming session many times over just to let the clippers cool down. Hot clippers are also a safety issue as they can burn you or your dog. Be sure to oil the clippers to avoid friction.
Clippers or trimmers for dog nails
Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is important. Long nails can cause pain and damage to the nail bed when your dog walks and they can curve growing into the pad of your dog’s foot. The typical tools used in dog nail trimming include:
Guillotine clippers house a sharp blade that cuts through the nail tip when it is inserted into the clipper’s stationary hole. This style is best for smaller to medium size dogs with thinner nails
Scissor clippers with a guard have a user-friendly design and act more like a pair of scissors. The guard behind the blades prevents you from cutting your dog’s nails too short.
Nail grinder is an option for pet parents that don’t want to clip their dog’s nails. Unlike clippers, a grinder has no guard, so you need to watchful of how fast and how far you are grinding the nail tip down.
Human nail clippers can be used on puppy nails only as they are thinner than adult dog nails. Never use them on adult dogs as they can cause damage to the nail bed or surrounding skin.
Finally, we recommend getting a styptic stick, which you’ll use in case you cut your dog’s nails too close to the quick. For step-by-step instructions on how not to do that, read more about how to safely trim your dog’s nails.