Grooming Your Coton de Tuléar
By Helga Lopatin
Remember when our puppy's coat was short and soft and brushing once or twice a week was sooo easy!! Our goal was to have him/her become adjusted to brushing in a comfortable place for both, and bathing and hair drying (treats anyone?). What happened to those easy times?
At around seven or eight months our puppy has changed its baby coat into an adolescent coat which is not yet as heavy as his adult coat of around fifteen months and now we are faced with... mats! We ask ourselves: “Gosh, how am I going to groom my dog”? “How am I going to remove all these mats and still have a coat left”? And let’s face it, keep our sanity! How many times have we asked ourselves all these plus many more questions? So what's a Mother to do? How about a simple session for grooming.
Choosing the correct grooming equipment is the most important first step. Keep in mind the quality of our Equipment & Supplies.
• Brushes: slicker, removes mats and dead hair, small or medium size, depending which "feels" better in your hand (same size as above).
• Combs: combination of half-fine & half-medium comb, flea comb, with or without handle, helpful in removing food or dirt in facial area.
• Toe nail cutters and styptic powder: Kwik Stop
• Scissors: Blunt edge if you feel more comfortable.
• Grooming table: Needs to be sturdy and covered with a non-slip surface (some are folding tables). If this is out your budget, a rigid surface topped with a rubber backing bath mat is also suitable. It must feel comfortable for you otherwise your back will tell you. Lighting is also important.
• Ear care: ear powder and ear wash, as suggested by your veterinarian Opticlear by Tomlyn or Eye Brite by Lambert-Kay or a suggested by your veterinarian
• Spray-on coat detangler-conditioner: some come with Mink Oil, Bio-Groom, Ring-5, Lambert-Kay, Tomlyn are reliable products which prevents hair breakage.
• Your companion’s favorite treats.
We know your dog will cooperate. You have been working with him/her since the first day of his/her arrival in your home! Place the dog on its side (feet toward you). Pick up the front leg and brush the hair under the chest. Next, spread the main coat out and over the topline. Starting at the chest, part the coat for the entire length of the body (running parallel with the spine). Spray the coat below and above the part lightly and start brushing the parted hair downward toward you. Next, start your second part lengthwise approximately one inch above the first one and again spray lightly and brush downward toward you. Repeat each layering until you have reached the topline. Make sure that you always brush to the skin. When finished, turn the dog over and repeat on the other side.
To brush the legs, start at the toes and work also in layers upward toward the shoulder (double check the upper inside front legs; this area mats very quickly). Next, sit your pet and brush its chest, also in layers, starting above the legs and upward. On the head, start under the chin and, using the same part method, work around toward the top of the head. The flea comb is useful in removing dried food particles in the beard. Do not spray when working around the dog's face and around the eyes, spray your brush instead. If you must spray, make sure to totally cover the eyes and the nose. Be also particularly careful around the eyes with your brush! Brush the ears downward and check the tips for matting. Brush the tail and work your way along the back (the area which has not been brushed yet) toward the head. Brush the topline first, against the hair, and then brush the hair back in the right direction. Using your comb, gently comb through the coat to find out if you have brushed out all the dead hair. If the comb does not go through, brush that area again.
Keep the toenails short. If you have never clipped your dog's nails, ask your veterinarian to show you how and ask him to show you the “quick.” With white dogs this is easily seen. Cutting into the "quick” will make the nail bleed. Pressing a pinch of styptic powder firmly against the nail for about one minute will stop the bleeding. Foot pads also need to be thoroughly checked. Excess hair between the pads can cause matting, slipping on smooth surfaces, causes the foot to spread and small pebbles could become lodged bringing on lameness. Now is the time to use those blunt scissors! Hold the foot firmly in one hand, with the pad facing you, and gently trim the hair as close as you possibly and comfortably can.
Aaahhh... those nightmarish mats! If you encounter badly matted hair, you need to first separate the mat from the long coat. Using your fingers, try to work the mat apart by very gently pulling on it -- once on the left, once on the right, continuing left and right, until you can then brush out the mat. If you are dealing with large mats making smaller sections is also very helpful. Avoid hair breakage as much as you can since the main idea is to lose as little hair as possible! If this does not work you can use a spray-on conditioner and detangler, saturate the mat, work the product into the mat and leave it on the hair for approximately 20 minutes. Then proceed as above. This type of grooming is the one you need to use between bathing. Remember that your companion needs to be brushed regularly two or three times weekly (and more) between baths.
EARS: Care of the ears and eyes are also important parts of your companion grooming. You should check your dog’s ears weekly. Hair grows inside the ear canal and needs to be removed periodically. Work in a well lighted area. A small amount of ear powder in each ear helps with hair removal by making the gripping easier. Very gently pull out a few hairs at the time by using your thumb and index fingers. Use a cotton swab or a cotton ball dipped in a canine optic solution and carefully clean the outer area. Ear wipes are also available and work quite nicely.
Remember: DO NOT go into the ear canal! If your dog scratches his ears or shakes his head and a foul smell and brownish discharge are present, you will need to consult with your veterinarian mmediately. If you are unsure, let your doctor show you how to properly insert drops into the ear canal and discuss how to follow-up.
EYES: Eye care also needs to be done regularly. If there is an accumulation of mucous or dirt, dogs will tend to rub their eyes. Eye wipes are fairly new and also work quite nicely to dislodge secretions. A cotton swab dipped in plain, slightly lukewarm water and gently dabbed on the secretions will also help remove those (but your dog must be absolutely still). Talk to your doctor first about using a soothing solution in your pet's eyes and let him/her show you how to do it properly. If your dog shows signs of persistent scratching, redness, swelling, or keeps his eyelid(s) half closed, you will need to see your veterinarian immediately. There are different causes for eye stain (heredity and infection of the tear ducts amongst others). Use an appropriate tear stain remover and use the fine-tooth comb under the eye area to remove the matter. Follow the instructions carefully since some removers can be irritating to the eyes. Q-tips dipped in the tear stain solution, rather than a cotton ball, work well because they allow you to reach closer into the corner of the eye without getting the product in the eyes. These products work better if used daily.
TEETH: We also need to address the teeth. Your companion's teeth need to be cleaned two or three times a week, but preferably daily, with a dog's toothpaste (do not use people's toothpaste). Use a finger toothbrush or wrap a gauze pad around your finger. Again, ask your doctor to show you how and follow his/her suggestions regarding professional cleaning (our newsletter #4 carried an article written by Pauline Dunn on this subject). If your pet has energy plus, you may want to exercise him/her before grooming. And finally, reward your companion with his/her favorite treat. A grooming session should always end up on a positive note.
Many people ask, “How often should I bathe my Coton?” Answers differ depending on where you live and what your life style is with your dog. City walking is different from country walking! A general rule of thumb could be approximately every three to four weeks. Bathing can be done more often if you want, but remember it needs to be done properly.
Your dog needs to be thoroughly brushed to the skin, have all matting and dead hair removed before bathing (no need to use the spray). Do not bathe with mats since those will tend to "clump" together.
Your Equipment & Supplies:
• Bathing apron
• Rubber mat for your tub
• Sponge or washcloth
• Conditioning shampoo, or bluing shampoo, tearless shampoo for the head, cream rinse (optional) Ring 5, Lambert Kay, Bio Groom, Tomlyn
• Bath towels (4), hand towel (for the face)
• Hair Dryer. You can use your own, however a professional dryer will save you time.
Before bathing the dog, insert a cotton ball gently into each ear and add a drop of mineral oil in your companion's eyes to guard against soap irritation.
BATHING: Stand your dog in the tub on the mat. Wet the hair very thoroughly except for the head. Apply the shampoo, work in a rich lather, and work from the back to the front of your dog, making sure that all of him is fully lathered. Don't be concerned about your dog getting a brisk shampooing! Don't forget under the tail and the belly. Legs also have stubborn spots! Your sponge might help you for these areas. If you know how to clean the anal glands, now is a good time to do it. If not, at your next visit to the veterinarian, have him/her show you. Leaving the head washing last is helpful for your pet's overall behavior since most dogs dislike face washing so much. This is where your tearless shampoo comes in. Using your sponge or washcloth, wet the head and the ears and wash the area being very careful not to get the soap in the eyes. Rinse your dog well and shampoo a second time. Rinse very well again and apply the cream rinse as per the instructions. For your final rinse, start at the head and ears, and continue toward the tail and legs. It is extremely important to remove all trace of shampoo and cream rinse from your pet's hair. Rinse, rinse, rinse, until clear water runs off the dog. Extra time in rinsing is worth its weight in gold. Your pet will be happier since you'll avoid skin problems and dull coat.
DRYING: Squeeze the water out of his coat. Towel him dry, place him on the table which you already had placed a thick dry bath towel to help again in absorbing excess moisture, blot more moisture out with a new dry towel and let him shake! You can now remove the cotton balls from the ears and at the same time gently wipe any moisture, if present. As in grooming, lay your pet on its side on the table. Some people like to start with the head and ears first, and some like to start with the body. Sometimes it helps to put new dry cotton balls in your companion's ears especially when blow drying around the head area. It somewhat "muffles" the sound and can relax the dog a bit. Make sure to always check the temperature of the hair dryer during the drying. If it feels comfortable to you, it is comfortable for your pet. Do not hold the dryer too close to the body! Blow dry your companion's hair in the same layering method described in "Grooming" with your pin brush starting at the belly and working up toward the topline. Again, make sure to brush to the skin. When one side is finished, pick up your dog, place a new dry towel on the table, turn the dog over and do a repeat performance! When finished, stand your dog on the table and check that the front and hind legs are properly dried. Brush the total coat lightly to make it flow in the direction you want it to go. Use the comb for a final check on dead hair removal. And finally, do not forget your friend's treats. He/she deserves it. But don’t forget yourself in the process. You deserve one too!