The Clean Dog: Canine Hygiene Step by Step

Keeping a clean dog isn't as hard as many pet owners believe, especially if your start canine hygiene routines early in your puppy's life. Dog ears, dental hygiene and skin care can be easy to maintain and will help prevent health problems in the future.

Keeping Dog Ears Clean

A mild dog ear cleaning solution that is recommended by your vet's office can be applied once a week starting when your dog is a puppy. Bacterial, yeast and fungal infections and parasites are more likely to develop in a dirty and moist ear, especially if your dog has long or floppy ears.

  • Insert the tip of the solution bottle into the ear canal, making sure not to push more than 1/2 inch into the canal. Squeeze solution into ear canal.
  • Massage base of the ear for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Wipe up any discharge, debris and excess solution your dog may have shook out with a cotton pad or Q-tip. Do NOT stick anything far into the ear canal or you may damage the ear drum or canal.

Dog Dental Hygiene

Cleaning your puppy's teeth starting when he is between 8 and 16 weeks old is an important part of developing a daily dental hygiene routine for your dog to help prevent infection, inflammation and periodontal disease.

  • Start by choosing a toothbrush that will fit your dog's mouth. Children's toothbrushes can work but there are many brushes made specifically for dogs as well. A finger comb can be much easier to use and allow owners to clean all areas of the dog's mouth with little discomfort for the owner or pet.
  • Never use toothpaste made for humans; instead, find a dog toothpaste at a local pet shop. Allow your dog to sniff and taste the toothpaste so he can get used to the flavor.
  • Start with the back teeth, lifting his lips to see the teeth and gums. Move in circular motions along the gum line and front of the teeth, gradually moving towards the front of the mouth.
  • Keep teeth cleaning short to prevent your dog from becoming upset. Use praise when you start implementing your oral hygiene plans so your dog will learn to enjoy teeth cleanings.
  • Always replace the toothbrush when bristles become worn and rough.

Dog Skin and Fur Care

Caring for your dog's coat and skin, especially breeds with long hair, can prevent skin infections like hot spots. Wet and matted hair, allergies, insect bites, excessive scratching and knots in the hair can cause irritations or wounds that may become infected. Here are some tips to improve your dog's skin and fur and prevent health problems:

  • Keep hair trimmed and groomed, especially in warmer months to prevent knots and matted hair.
  • Dry your dog after swimming and bathing.
  • Maintain good nutrition to help your dog build up his immune system and fight infection like hot spots.
  • Bathe your dog but not more than once a month; excess bathing can lead to dry and itchy skin which is more prone to infection.
  • Address any allergic reactions that may be caused by food, medications or insect bites.