HOW TO TAKE CARE OF AN AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD
Australian Shepherds have the advantage of being relatively low maintenance dogs. This means that they're very easy to care for, you just need to take care of a few key things to ensure their good health.
How Do You Brush an Australian Shepherd?
Australian Shepherds have a fabulous coat but it does require a bit of maintenance. Brushing not only helps to detangle their hair, but it also removes dead hair and plant debris that may have got caught while they're out and about. Brush your dog once or twice per week during normal periods, then once each day during moulting periods in spring and autumn.
Make sure you choose an appropriate brush for your dog's fur type. The ideal brush for Australian Shepherds is plastic or rubber-tipped. Brush each tuft of hair up in the opposite direction, then down in the direction of the hair. Proceed gently, bit by bit, so as not to hurt or traumatise your dog; you don't want them to associate the brush with pain. Being medium-length, the Australian Shepherd's coat is prone to tangles and knots. If you find a knot in your dog’s coat, use a comb to gently detangle it. If you can't easily detangle the knot, don't keep pulling at it. Instead, cut it out to prevent hurting your pooch.
If you plan to use shears, make sure to only shear the knot itself. Shearing an Australian Shepherd, especially a white Australian Shepherd, is not recommended because its fur protects it from both bad weather and sunlight. If your dog's coat is full of knots, call a professional instead. In these cases, it's best not to risk grooming your dog yourself.
Australian Shepherds only need to be washed once or twice a year, unless they get particularly dirty. Please note: It's important to only use a shampoo which has been specially designed for dogs, as human cosmetics can be very toxic for your pooch!
How Do I Clean My Australian Shepherd's Teeth?
Oral hygiene is paramount for all dogs. If neglected, your pooch could develop serious gum problems or even lose teeth. As such, it's important to accustom your dog to a toothbrush and toothpaste from an early age. Regular brushing prevents tartar formation, which, once present, can only be removed by a vet.
To brush your Australian Shepherd's teeth, start by using a finger cot to get them used to the feel of the toothpaste. Always use special dog toothpaste, never human toothpaste! Once your pet is used to the toothpaste, you can start using a toothbrush - any toothbrush will do. Brush gently, being careful not to make any sudden movements, and don't forget to do the back teeth. Aim to brush your dog's teeth at least twice a week. You can also supplement dental care with chew bones, which are excellent for maintaining gum tissue.
How Do You Clean an Australian Shepherd's Ears?
Your Australian Shepherd's floppy ears can quickly become breeding sites for bacteria. It is therefore essential to take good care of them. To do this, regularly inspect your dog's ears for any debris or parasites. Use a cleaning product suitable for your dog's ears, and avoid using water. Never use cotton buds, cotton wool, or cotton pads.
Hold the pinna (auricle) of the ear with one hand and stretch it slightly upwards. Then place a few drops of cleaner into the ear canal. Gently massage the base of the ear for about 20 seconds, then wipe off the excess product. Your dog will most likely shake their head once you're done; this is to eject the cleaning solution and debris from their ear canal.
How Do I Clean My Australian Shepherd's Eyes?
The eyes are a sensitive area that requires special attention. To clean them, use suitable eye cleaning products for dogs or saline solution - nothing else! Take a pad soaked in the solution—do not use a cotton ball or pad that could leave fibres behind!—and run it over your dog's eyes to sweep away any impurities. Start from the top of the eye and move down towards the muzzle, so as not to allow other dirt to get in.
How to Trim Your Australian Shepherd's Nails
If your Australian Shepherd's nails are too long, it may annoy them in the short term and could even injure them in the long term. However, necessary as it may be, some precautions are in order when trimming your dog's nails.
Make sure to carefully locate the quick of the nail before cutting to avoid injuring your pooch. The quick is the live part of the nail which contains blood vessels and nerve endings - it is recognisable by its pink colour. You only want to cut the white part of the nail. If your dog has black claws, it's best not to cut them too short, as a precaution. Don't forget to cut the dewclaws as well.
For a dog the size of an Australian Shepherd, an electric file may prove more practical than a nail clipper. It's up to you to try out the different options and which works best. If you're worried about hurting your Australian Shepherd when cutting their nails, you can always take them to see a professional groomer or your vet instead.
Preventive Medical Care for an Australian Shepherd
In addition to the daily maintenance that your dog needs, you must also provide them with certain preventive medical care. Make sure to take them for regular anti-parasitic and deworming treatments, especially if you live in the countryside, and keep all their vaccines up to date. Diet also plays a key role in your dog's health. Feeding your Australian Shepherd a high-quality diet is the best way to keep them healthy for as long as possible.
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