Today is maintenance day.  With the cooler weather upon us both Luke and Elsa will be keeping a bit more coat than they do throughout much of the year.  But they will still have their feet shaved clean regularly and their adorable faces.  I like a clean face, I like the cleanliness of it; having had an Airedale for years who sported the typical furry terrier face. (Messy, messy)  Luke grows a goatee now and again but gets it removed if it starts getting too dirty.  Not only is a clean shaven face easier to keep clean but it keeps all the hair away from their line of vision.  I cannot stand when dogs have hair in front of their eyes; just imagine how they feel when they cannot move it? 

My rule of thumb for hair in front of eyes is; if you cannot see your dogs entire eye by holding up their face right in front of your at eye level, trim it.  Not just the hair right in their eyes but over the top of their muzzle too.  It all gets in the way of seeing.  I have seen dogs who have full furry faces who are easily startled due to their lack of vision.  There have been times when I have held a client dogs face up and shown them where to cut after their dog didn't see the treat in front of him.  A full furry face might be cute but you need to create a clear path of vision for your dog.  Do not handicap them by limiting their visibility, either out front or peripherally. 

Feet will be next.  Clean feet is also done for several reasons.  First and most obviously to keep the dirt down.  It helps to limit the amount of dirt, mud and other crap that they collect on their feet and bring into the house.  It also helps to keep nasty pickies or stickers out of their feet.  If you have a dog with big furry feet; be sure to check the bottom of their feet and between toes daily.  A picky thing can get lodged between toes and work itself into the dogs foot causing a great deal of pain and problems.  Next, keeping the underfoot nice and trim helps with traction.  Luke slips easily with his loss of muscle mass so keeping the bottom of his feet clean is essential.  After the foot is nice and clean I will give it a good going over visually; making sure that there are no injuries or foreign bodies in there. 

While I am there I'll do nails.  Nails are done about every two weeks here.  A dogs nails should be short enough that they do not touch the ground when the dog is standing still.  But not so short that they cannot use them efficiently.  If you keep them up it is easy to see the little point that grows and either cut it or dremel it off.  Letting nails grow too long can create an altered gate on a dog as well as causing a dog pain just by walking.  Some nails may need trimming while others don't.  Elsa rarely needs her back nails trimmed as she has such power in that rear of hers that she wears them down on her own.  Typically her front two middle toes need more attention as they don't get as much impact. 

I will check their teeth and scrape any tartar that needs addressing.  With their constant access to chewing raw bones; tartar is not a huge problem.  But old dogs build up tartar much more quickly so need more attention.  After teeth will be ears which were just done a couple of weeks ago.  I pluck a small amount of hair out of their ears; enough to let the air in there.  If you pluck too much you open up the ear leaving it raw and ripe for infection.  Not enough plucking and you can create a problem as air cannot get into the ear.  So just enough to let the air in.  (This is obviously only for dogs who grow hair in their ears.)  Ears need more than plucking; even dogs with no hair in their need ear cleaning so have a look and clean out any muck in there.  Only clean as far as you can see, never dig further down in your dogs ear than you can see.  Be careful. 

Then comes the full body physical.  Everything is checked and noted for things to keep an eye on.  With Elsa, anything found is address more quickly as she is young and should not have any growth type things on her.  Luke on the other hand is old and has tons of bumps and lumps everywhere.  Any new ones are checked and we watch carefully.  Bumps of concerned are checked out by the vet. 

Maintenance is important; have you had a look lately?  So many people just leave it up to the groomer and never look or concern themselves with any of their dog's parts.  But you should know every inch of your dog, do you?

I have one of these Li'l pal brushes and it was a great puppy brush for Elsa.