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Giving your dog a bath is important, but not as critical as most people seem to believe. If your dog is healthy, he really doesn't need to be bathed more that once every few months, but most of us put them in the tub or under the hose more often to get rid of that doggie smell and look shinier. Although most dogs do not enjoy getting a bath, it is a good bonding experience. They will appreciate the contact and attention they get from their owner.
This is also an excellent time to do some other required "maintenance" tasks that we often forget about, such as ear cleaning, brushing their teeth, and checking for fleas and ticks. It is much easier to do all these things at once since most dogs don't enjoy sitting through these activities for very long.
Let's go into further detail about these maintenance tasks to make sure your dog stays healthy and happy for a long time.
To clean your dog's ears, check your local pet store for special solutions designed specifically for this purpose. It is common for dogs to attract ear mites, which are small insects that live in the waxy secretions. As time goes by, the mite gets larger and you will start to notice a dirty black substance in your dog's ear. Take a q-tip, dip it in the ear cleaning solution, and gently swab the entire ear. Your dog might squirm, but hold him down, because it won't take long. And when you're done, he'll have clean ears and be much less likely to get earaches or infections.
One of the most overlooked maintenance tasks is brushing your dog's teeth. Many dog owners only do this once or twice per year. Can you imagine how gross your mouth would feel if you didn't brush for six months? Your dog feels the same way. It's never too late to start doing this. You will need a special toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs. These are easily found in any pet store for under ten dollars. Be certain to brush the back teeth, and use small circular motions like your dentist used to tell you to do. This task will be easier than the ear cleaning, because the dog toothpaste is made to taste good. Your dog should enjoy the treat.
The last thing to check for is fleas and ticks. Ticks are nasty little bugs that dig themselves into your dog's skin and live by sucking their blood. Be especially careful if you live near wooded areas where ticks are most common. However, no matter where you live, check for ticks often, because they carry several harmful diseases. Ticks are the transport method of Lyme Disease, which will slowly destroy your dog's joints and suck out all his energy. Many dogs with Lyme Disease are in such pain that they need to be put down. So check often! Pay special attention to the most common hiding areas, which are under the collar or along the underbelly. If you find one, simply pull it off with tweezers.
Fleas aren't as potentially harmful as ticks, but they are much more of a nuisance. If you don't catch them quickly enough, your other pets can catch them, your kids can catch them, and you might have to get your home fumigated. You can find them under the fur, in the same places where ticks hang out. If you see little things that look like specks of pepper, those are flea droppings. The actual flea will be dark in color and about the size of a grain of rice. If you do find one, call your local vet's office and ask about flea treatments.
Eric Shannon is a freelance author who also publishes the Dog Lovers Report, which is a biweekly newsletter with a very large readership. He also runs Beds For Doggies, which carries a large selection of Dog Beds, Dog Couches, and Dog Furniture.
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