If your dog is anything like the dogs I own, he gets dirty fast. After a day in the field, he’ll be covered with burrs, mud, and in a worst-case scenario, fleas or ticks. Luckily, there are several tools that will quickly take care of those problems, tools that all good dog owners should keep within arm’s reach.
The first is a stiff wire brush. I’m not talking about the type you use to scrub the rust off a frying pan; I’m talking about the short-bristled “slicker” brushes made specifically for dogs. Plastic bristles will work, but wire bristles work better. They’re excellent for removing dried mud, dust, and a million other little things that can stick in a long-haired dog’s coat.
For things the wire brush can’t remove, like cockleburs and stick-tights, a metal comb is the ticket. I like the kind that has coarse and fine teeth, but if you have to choose just one, get the coarse-toothed model. It’s much easier to rake through tangled hair.
Next on the list is a mat cutter. For the really tangled-up burrs that a comb won’t remove, slice them apart with several strokes of a mat cutter, then comb them out with the metal comb. The pieces of burr will come right out.
Two other indispensables are sterile eye wash and cotton swabs. Both are excellent for removing the debris that tends to collect behind the lower lids of a dog’s eye. Here’s how to do it: While your buddy holds your dog, take a dry swab and swipe it between the lower lid and your pup’s eyeball with a slight rolling motion. One or two swipes will pick up most of the debris that’s gathered there. Then, for your dog’s comfort, hold his eye open and rinse it with the sterile solution, exactly the same way you’d rinse yours. He’ll fight you, but he’ll be much more comfortable afterward.
Finally, invest in a flea comb. These are ultra-fine combs that will comb out ticks and fleas in both long- and short-haired breeds. But their best use is one I’ve rarely heard advertised—for combing the mud and burrs out from between a dog’s toes, where they’re hard to reach with anything else.
The cost of all these grooming tools will probably set you back $30, and they’ll last for years. Consider it a solid investment in the lifelong comfort of your dog.