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When it’s time to brush your dog, give him a bath, or trim his nails, it’s not like a relaxing spa day many people would enjoy. “Most dogs aren’t like us where they enjoy being pampered,” says professional dog groomer Kim Flatley, owner of St. Louis-based Fitness with Fido. “They have better things to do like going out to play and barking and all that.”
Flatley suggests doing your grooming in spurts—nails one day and a bath on another day, and be sure to reward your pet for being good.
Maybe do their nails after a walk when they’re a little tired and are more relaxed. If you’re going to brush their teeth, take them for a walk or play ball after as a reward. Try to brush your dog at least once a week, brush their teeth once or twice a week, and do their nails every two to six weeks depending on how quickly they grow.
When choosing products, she says many more people seem to be choosing natural products, from shampoos to wipes. “I try to use natural products for myself, so I try to find ones that are safer for my dogs and my client’s dogs,” Flatley says.
Here’s a look at some grooming products we like. We tried to choose as many that had sustainable and eco-friendly elements as we could that also did a good job.
Whether you’re detangling behind your dog’s ears or just prefer combing to brushing, choosing bamboo can be smart for a couple of reasons. Environmentally, bamboo is a better material than plastic for the environment. It can also be better for your dog’s fur.
Bamboo reportedly distributes the natural oils in your dog’s coat more evenly. It’s also less likely to cause snagging, which will make grooming time more pleasant for everyone. It doesn’t cause static like a plastic comb will. However, don’t use it on your dog’s coat right after a bath because bamboo is best kept dry. Oil the comb about once a year to keep it in good shape for many years.
These nail clippers have stainless steel blades, sharpened for quick easy trims. The ergonomic handles are made out of recycled plastic and have a rubber grip so they don’t slip out of your hands when you’re doing delicate nail work. The blade is angled to make it easier to see where you are cutting, especially with hard-to-reach dew claws.
These clippers are relatively small, so our testers recommend them for puppies and small dogs (or the occasional cat or bunny). You’d probably want to size up for dogs with larger, thicker nails. Note that these don’t have a nail guard that would stop the nail from getting cut too short, although many nail guards have a tendency to slide out of place anyway.
Some dogs really don’t like to have their nails clipped. There’s that loud snapping noise, and clippers pinch the sides of the nail, which can be unpleasant. Because you usually clip in one fast motion, it can be easier to accidentally cut the quick, which is a bundle of blood vessels and nerves. That can mean pain and bleeding.
An easier option for some is a nail grinder where you file away your dog’s nails without any abrupt motions. This Dremel model is popular because it has a nail guard to protect you from trimming too closely. It’s cordless and has a USB recharger, so you don’t have to worry about tangling your dog up in a cord or wasting batteries. It’s also relatively quiet compared to many other similar tools.
Tip: If your dog is skittish, take your time and do a pass here and there. Don’t worry about getting everything done at once and use lots of treats. Some owners say their dogs actually fall asleep when they get their manicures.
Because puppy breath doesn’t last forever, it’s a great idea to get your dog used to having his or her teeth brushed. If you buy organic dog food or organic dog treats, you can buy organic toothpaste too. Radius canine toothpaste is USDA-certified organic. It’s made of organic coconut oil, sweet potato, and cinnamon with no GMOs, parabens, fluoride, or other potentially harmful additives.
The toothbrush has soft bristles and is oval with no edges, making it easier to work inside your dog’s mouth. It comes with a free, recycled storage case.
Made with natural enzymes, these textured and pre-moistened toothbrush wipes have no alcohol, latex, or parabens. They’re very easy to use: Just slip your index and middle fingers into the pocket of a wipe and massage it over the surface of your dog’s teeth and gums. It can be a little easier to maneuver these nubby wipes than using a toothbrush and toothpaste. These can be a quick fix in between brushings or a more bearable solution for dogs that just won’t sit still for a toothbrush.
The wipes are cruelty-free, vegan, and made in the United States by a female-owned and family-operated business. They have a fresh peppermint scent and come in a resealable pouch.
Disposable wipes aren't as eco-friendly as a washable cloth, but when it isn't feasible to give your dog a whole bath, or you don't have access to clean running water, they can be a handy alternative. When your dog just has a little gunk in his ears or around his eyes or just needs a freshening up, these fragrance-free grooming wipes are an easy way to do a quick once-over. They don’t have soap, gluten, DEA, parabens, synthetic dyes, sulfates, or phthalates, and all Earthbath products are cruelty-free.
There are other versions like green tea and awapuhi (bitter ginger) for shed control and tea tree oil and aloe vera for hot spot relief. There are also specific wipes for ears and eyes, and special wipes for teeth and gums, and even for puppy bottoms that get smelly.
Courtesy of Pure and Natural Pet
When your dog has his nose in everything, sometimes his sniffer takes a beating. Some dogs are more prone to drying, chapping, and sun damage. This nose balm can help with healing and protecting. It’s USDA-certified organic and paraben-free with no dyes, perfumes, chemicals, or fragrances.
It’s made from organic olive oil, organic castor oil, organic beeswax, organic calendula oil, and organic rosemary extract. It’s cruelty-free and safe if licked—and you know your dog is going to lick it!
To make this list, we looked for the eco-friendly products, like items with natural and organic ingredients or those made with sustainable materials. In some cases, like nail clippers and grinders, we weren't able to find products with standout sustainability credentials, so we recommend durable grooming tools that work well for pets and owners, and should last for many years.
The proud mom of a rescue dog, Mary Jo DiLonardo has fostered more than three dozen dogs and puppies, and had to groom them all. For more than 25 years, Mary Jo has covered a wide range of topics focused on nature, pets, health, science, and anything that helps make the world a better place. She has spent more than six years with Treehugger, formerly under the Mother Nature Network brand.
United States Department of Agriculture. The Organic Seal.
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