Since most of my clients have shih-tzu’s, I dedicate this post to them, but it’s also applicable to those who have long-haired dogs, dogs that need to be groomed regularly, and pet owners in general (did I include everyone?).

Here is a list of things you ought to help your dog with regularly:

1) Eye gunk. It may make you queasy to think about this, but eye boogers need to be removed from your dog’s eyes DAILY! These build and build and have no where to go. They irritate your dog’s eyes, smell bad, and look gross. Not to mention that they often don’t dry, making your pet’s eyes moist and germ friendly. Just do your dog a favor and wipe them off each day. You can pick them off with your fingers (fastest way) or use a baby wipe or wet washcloth. Takes 3 seconds.

2) Butts. I am amazed at the number of people who don’t seem to care that their dogs have poop on their rear-ends. Do you realize that your dog licks, rubs that part of its body on your couch, carpet, and (dare I say it) bed?! Keep your puppy’s potty path trimmed short to prevent poo-poo getting stuck on hair. If you suspect that Fido has an issue, get a baby wipe, wet paper towel, or lysol wipe and just clean it away. Takes 1 minute.

3) Knots/general brushing. Brush your dog out twice a week to prevent the formation of knots. If knots are not tended to they grow closer and closer to your dog’s body, eventually pulling at and pinching the skin. Don’t wait until you take your dog to the groomer to have her do it. Just cut them off of your dog as soon as you see them beginning to form–it will keep your pet much more comfortable. Most common places for knots: armpits, inner thighs, and around the ears. When you brush your dog make sure you are getting the bristles all the way to the skin. If you only brush the part of the coat you can see, your dog still might have matted hair underneath. To brush on top of a mat is painful for your pooch. Takes 3 minutes twice a week.

4) Lastly, keep a small pair of scissors on hand to trim the hair around your dog’s eyes. Often the dogs I cut have hair so long they can’t see a thing! This will help with eye gunk as well. To safely trim around the eyes do it when your dog is calm. Firmly hold the dog’s muzzle in one hand (I usually do thumb on top of the nose bridge, and fingers under the chin), and bring the scissors in parallel to the dog’s eyes (don’t get the end of the scissors near that eye itself). For shih-tzu’s or short-nosed dogs, I usually cup the whole head in my hand (fingers above eyes, thumb under chin). Hold firmly to prevent them moving. It may sound intimdating, but their reaction will be to move away from the scissors, not into them. Takes 5 minutes once every few weeks.

Keep your pooches comfortable, clean, and calm. Lead your dog!