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K9 Buddy Curriculum: Grooming and Body Check

Grooming Tools and Techniques
K9 Buddy clients are given the following grooming equipment:

  • Zoom Groom®
  • Slicker brush

Recommended brushes for long-coated dogs (Golden Retrievers and some Labrador/Golden crosses)

  • Pin Brush
  • Comb

Cleaning Grooming Tools
Grooming supplies will become dirty and should be cleaned as needed. They should be washed using warm soap and water, rinsed thoroughly, and then dried before storage. Do not use scalding water as you may crack the brush and cause the bristles to fall out.

Recommended Grooming Steps
Grooming your dog's body every day provides an opportunity to detect any problems, such as ticks, swellings, pain when touched, burrs, cuts or abscesses, flaky skin, red/inflamed or yellow eyes, infected ears, cracks in paws or mats between toes, ingrown or excessively long nails, or anything else that may need veterinary attention. If you make a habit of grooming your dog, you only need to spend about 10 minutes a day. Developing a routine will not only provide a thorough health inspection, but a familiar grooming pattern will help the dog become more comfortable being handled.

The following steps are recommended:

  • Select a suitable place to groom your dog, such as a porch or patio. To keep the house clean, take a wastebasket with you to dispose of excess hair. Your dog’s double coat protects him in both cold and hot weather. A double coat consists of an undercoat and an outer coat, also called a guard coat. The undercoat consists of short, soft, wooly hair that repels water and dirt. Both coats will shed slightly throughout the year.
  • Grooming should be a relaxing time for the dog. Have the dog sit, stand or lay on its side, whatever seems most comfortable. Use a leash or tie-down to if your dog needs help staying in one place. A head collar can be used to prevent playful behavior (grabbing at the brush or hands).
  • Use the Zoom Groom® first to loosen dead hair and stimulate the oil glands. This also brings dirt to the surface and removes dead hairs. Use the Zoom Groom® in circular motions, going both with and against the natural lay of the hair. Do not use on the head.
  • Use the slicker brush to brush with the lay of the coat, from the dog's neck to tail, including the chest and sides. Do not use on the head or bony parts of the legs.
  • As a final step, rub or stroke the dog all over with your hands. This feels good to the dog, and allows for the detection of any changes in the body, abrasions, lumps, etc.
  • Some people like to rub a moist cotton towel (provided) on the dog’s face then down the sides of the dog as a finishing touch. A moist towel picks up loose hairs and dirt.
  • Clean the grooming articles, pick up the excess hair and dispose in the wastebasket. There is no need to wash the grooming tools after every groom session unless there is an oily build-up.


  • When using the slicker brush, it is possible to scratch the dog's skin with the metal if too much pressure is applied. Only use as much pressure as seems comfortable for a given dog.
  • A dog's tail is very sensitive; be gentle when grooming it.

Coated Dogs (Goldens or Golden/Lab crosses)

  • In addition to the zoom groom and slicker, a comb and pin brush are useful.
  • If your dog has "feathering” (long hair on the tail, backsides of legs, stomach, inner thighs, armpits, and ears), pay special attention to these areas, as they are prone to developing mats.
  • After the grooming procedure listed above, use a Pin Brush with the lay of the hair to brush through the feathered areas. Use a comb to brush the feathers behind the ears and head.
  • Be sure to brush all the way through the hair from the skin out, as mats tend to develop close to the dog’s skin on inner parts of the feathering. It can be helpful to have the dog roll over to brush the armpits and inner thighs.
  • These areas need to be brushed daily to prevent mats. The Pin Brush and comb is the best tool for the feathered areas.
  • Mats can be more common after a dog gets wet. Wait for the hair to dry, and then brush the tangles out.

Dog Body Check

Teeth & Gums
Dogs, like people, are prone to tooth and gum disease, and good dental hygiene is an integral part of good grooming. Your dog’s teeth should be brushed at least 3 times a week, daily is encouraged for optimal care. Regular tooth brushing eliminates the need for your dog to undergo dental procedures that require the administration of a general anesthesia. Guide Dogs for the Blind recommends using C.E.T. Enzymatic toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth every day. Never use human toothpaste as it may be sweetened with Xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs.

Begin by putting a small amount of the toothpaste on the brush and gently lift the lips to expose teeth and gums. Brush in circular motion along the gum line. Pay special attention to the back molars, as they are prone to greater tartar build-up. If you find using the toothbrush awkward, you can use the finger brush, or gauze wrapped around your index finger instead.

Examine your dog’s teeth for cracks, chips, or swollen area of gums that bleeds or has foul odor. Note: some dogs will chew Nylabones until they cause some blood residue on the bone from their gums – this is generally not a concern, but you can remove the Nylabone until the gums recover.

Skin & Coat
Examine for any flaky skin, bumps, lesions, ticks, fleas, flea dirt, foxtails, etc. This is a good time to assess weight too since you should be able to see or feel a waistline and feel ribs fairly easily with only a minimal layer of fat covering them.

Lift the dog’s ear flap, a normal ear is pink without debris or odor. Clean your dog's ears once a week with an ear cleaning solution provided to you.

Steps for ear cleaning:

  • Apply ear cleaning solution to a cotton ball or pad until it is slightly moist.
  • Gently hold the pinna (ear flap) open and extend it to straighten the ear canal. Wipe the canal and pinna in an outward direction. A dog’s ear canal is “L” shaped, which means that you will not touch your dog’s eardrum with your finger. Gently remove debris from the crevices in the pinna by wiping.
  • Dogs will generally shake their head after you remove your finger. This will help the accumulated debris at the bottom of the canal rise to the top.
  • Repeat these steps until the cotton ball remains free of debris. DO NOT USE COTTON SWABS (Q-Tips), as it will push the earwax and debris further into the ear canal.
  • If you notice a lot of dark debris, irritated/red skin, head shaking, red/swollen ear flaps, a strong odor, or ear scratching, the dog may have an infection that needs medication to be resolved. Please make an appointment with your vet if you notice these signs. Never self-diagnose: The ear is a very sensitive organ. What may appear to be similar symptoms to previous ear issue may not require similar treatments this time.

Monitor for yellow/green discharge (especially that persists for more than a few days), swelling around the eyes, squinting, or frequent/excessive rubbing of eyes, and contact your vet if you notice these concerns. Watery discharge can happen on occasion and is not a concern unless it is chronic.

Feet & Nails
Check between pads (foxtails and burs can hide there) and contact your vet clinic if there is any redness, odor or cysts. All dogs need to have their toenails trimmed approximately every two weeks to one month. If you can hear the dog’s toenails "clicking" across a tiled floor, it's time for a trim. Toenails that are too long can cause serious damage to a dog's feet and skeletal system. We recommend having your dog’s nails trimmed at your veterinarian’s office or by a groomer, unless there is someone in your home who is experienced and comfortable with trimming nails. Using a Dremel to file your dog's nails is also an option.

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