On a Budget? Don’t Let Fido Feel the Pinch. Here’s How You Can Groom Your Dog at Home

Funny portrait of a dog with curlers on his head.

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Poodle getting groomed
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Pamper Your Pooch

Having a dog that requires routine grooming (where are all my Maltese dog owners at?) can make a serious dent in your wallet. The nationwide average is $40 to $75 per groom — an expense that can quickly add up over time. If you're an anxious dog mom like me (my dog got badly nicked in the leg by a groomer once, and I've had PTSD about trusting groomers ever since), then learning how to groom your dog at home can come in handy. 

From using the right tools and techniques to creating a calming and reassuring environment, these Reddit tips will have Fido looking his best from the comfort of home in no time. 

Closeup portrait of a poodle at the grooming procedure
Tatyana Kalmatsuy/istockphoto

Have the Right Equipment

Even if your pooch doesn't have a lot of fur, it's important to use the right tools to reduce the risk of nicks or cuts. Consider investing in high-quality grooming tools, including a brush, nail clippers, and pet-specific shampoos and conditioners. Hot tip: If they suffer from allergies and itchy skin like my dog, this oatmeal shampoo helps. 

"The grooming materials aren't cheap, and there's labor involved, but they're so worth it compared to the cost of grooming," writes one user. Considering the tools will be a one-time investment, you'll still save money in the long-run. 

Maltese pet being bathed in a dog groomer's shop

Establish a Routine

By creating and sticking to a grooming schedule that aligns with your dog's needs, you can help Fido become familiar with the process and make it less stressful. Regular grooming sessions help maintain your dog's coat, prevent matting, and keep their skin from itching. 

"I LOVE when owners want to take the time to try it out for themselves," writes one Redditor who works as a groomer. "It will save you money in the long run, [and] strengthens the bond between you two!" 

Stylish Professional Barber Scissors, Hair Cutting and Thinning.Hairdressing concept.Beauty concept.Beauty tools concept

Be Very Careful Around the Face Area

When cutting or trimming around your dog's face, be sure to use the right shears. Redditors recommend using thinning shears to avoid the risk of injury, or using clippers to gently trim around the face if shears freak them out. "Mine will not let me anywhere near his face or paws with clippers," writes one user, noting how they instead "shave down his belly and butt" and use a "special comb" around the face. 

Dog Grooming

Brush Their Coats Regularly

Regular brushing not only keeps your dog's coat looking its best, it also helps remove loose fur to prevent matting and tangling. Take the time to thoroughly brush your dog's entire body, paying special attention to areas prone to tangles: behind the ears, between the toes, around the tail, and under the armpits. 

I've been using this dual-teethed metal comb on my dog for years and it works great. You can buy one on Amazon for around $5.

Related: 10 Homemade Toys to Spoil Your Dog

Cleaning dog ears

Pay Attention to Ears and Toes

While grooming, it's important to remember to also clean hard-to-reach areas such as in between the toes, armpits, and ears. "Depends on your breed if this will matter, but for my curly-coated breed, the hair inside the gap between the paw pads (on the bottom of the foot) and between toes is a huge problem area for them," writes one Redditor, adding, "When it picks up grass, mud, sticky resin etc, the dog will either get skin infections from the lack of airflow to the skin, or they will lick it causing minor abrasions to the skin." 

To avoid these issues, use a pet-safe ear cleaner to gently wipe your dog's ears to remove any dirt or debris, and use a Q-tip to clean in between their toes and wipe down their paws after each groom. 

Veterinarian specialist holding puppy labrador dog, process of cutting dog claw nails of a small breed dog with a nail clipper tool,trimming pet dog nails manicure.Selective focus.
Arvydas Lakacauskas/istockphoto

Don't Forget the Nails ...

Trimming your dog's nails regularly (you can buy clippers for around $7 on Amazon) is another important step to prevent them from becoming overgrown and causing discomfort, or potential injury. "Nails are the thing that most home groomers get wrong," writes one Redditor, noting how some people make the mistake of cutting too deep into the nail's quick (where blood grows inside the nail bed). "So every time you groom, you want to take off as much as you can without cutting the quick." 

Redditors also suggest familiarizing yourself with proper nail trimming techniques, or using a grinder to gradually file down the nails. 

Related: Is Your Dog at Risk? Vitamin A Pet Supplements Recalled for Sickening Dogs

woman brushes dog's teeth with toothbrush, taking care of oral cavity, caring for pets, love.
Valeriia Titarenko/istockphoto

... And the Teeth

We can't stress this enough: Regularly brushing your pooch's teeth is so important. Trust me, I recently had to cough up almost $2,000 to have my dog's teeth professionally cleaned, and she still had to get five teeth extracted. Opt for a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs to help prevent dental issues and keep their breath smelling fresh. 

Making teeth brushing a regular part of your dog's routine not only helps them become accustomed to it, but also reduces their fear and anxiety surrounding the process. To enhance their dental care even further, consider offering dental treats like Greenies to help remove plaque and as a reward after teeth brushing. 

Related: 7 Tips For Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth at Home

Funny dog enjoying scratching his bum on grass at public dog park

Address Their Bums, Too

Okay, apologies in advance because this one is gnarly. But if you've noticed your dog is scooting his butt on the floor, grass, or carpet often, it's likely because he needs his anal glands excreted. Though the glands should empty by themselves when they go potty, sometimes they have to be manually expressed due to a lack of bowel movements or if the sacs are filling up too quickly. When the glands are full, it can cause discomfort, pain, and even lead to infection. 

Though this can be done by the groomer or at the vet, you can also do it at home. "One thing that groomers typically do that gets overlooked is expressing dog’s anal glands," writes one user. You can learn how to do it here; it's not that bad, I promise. 

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