Caring For Your RR

As a breed, Ridgebacks are easy to care for when it comes to grooming. There are a couple of areas I'd like to touch on here:

1. Bathing Your Ridgeback. Ridgebacks, because of their short, sleek coat, do not require bathing often. Of course, if you have allergies or white carpet and furniture, you will have to bathe your dog more often!

Generally, once a month is sufficient for most house dogs or as necessary, if you have a dusty yard. A good quality dog shampoo ( Don't use human shampoo, it's a bit harsh for dog coats.) will be just fine. Be sure to rinse well, as dried shampoo can cause your dog to itch and scratch.

2. Ears. Because of their hanging ears, RRs can develope yeast infections, so ears need to be cleaned and checked once a week. There are several good ear cleaners on the market - all you have to do is put a few drops into the ear canal and let them shake.

I like to use a mixture of 1 part water to 1 part apple cider vinegar.The vinegar discourages yeast growth because it creates an acidic environment.( And it's cheap, too!) I use a hemostat clamp on the swab and dip it in the mixture. This allows you to get down in the ear, but not too far, to clean those crevices and get the swab back out easily. An ear syringe filled with this mixture and used to flush the ears might be necessary if the ear is really "gunked up".

If your dog has a chronic ( very frequent ) case of black gunk in the ears and lots of head shaking and ear scratching, then check out this page for an old kennel remedy. Long term Ear Care

3. Teeth. Your dog's health can be compromised by bad teeth and trips to the veterinary dentist can be expensive. Once a day or every other day, tooth brushing will keep those pearlies nice and healthy. All puppies should be introduced to tooth brushing early on. If you haven't done this before, start by running your index finger in their mouth across their teeth. ( Helps to smile, laugh and perhaps, sing a tune while you're doing this.....Sounds strange, I know, but while the dog might not like this, he understands when you're happy....there you are, singing and laughing - obviously happy! So he thinks " Hmmm, we must be having fun" and is more likely to tolerate your odd behavior.)

Once he gets use to you putting your bare finger in his mouth, try wrapping a bit of wet gauze around it and "brushing" his teeth. When he tolerates that, dab that web gauze in some baking soda and "brush" his teeth. ( Remember to smile and sing!)

If your dog doesn't mind all of the above, you can usually get a doggy tooth brush ( or a soft human one ) and tooth paste for dogs from your vet and give him a daily brushing, but baking soda is a perfectly good cleaner, cheap and easy to come by.

A good "knuckle" bone with lots of marrow to gnaw through is also a wonderful way to clean those back molars....and, since it's food, this will be your Ridgeback's favorite tooth cleaning exercise! Keep in mind that teeth can be broken by chewing on bones, so if you give your dog bones, be sure and routinely check for cracks. I would throw away the smaller bones as they could swallow them whole.

I also use a tooth scraper to clean around the gum line of the teeth. Not every day, but as necessary.

The BEST thing I've come across is Petrodex Dental Chews. I use the medium size. I simply give them one a day and - IT'S A MIRACLE! - the teeth become nice and white and the dog thinks it's getting a wonderful treat. Get'em from KV Vet.

4. Nails. With some RRs this can be the "best outta three falls" kind of an ordeal. My best advice is to invest in a dremel tool to grind the nails. Ridgebacks seem to tolerate this much better than the crimp-style nail cutters. Dremels are usually two speed and are easier to handle than "dog nail grinders" that are available through pet stores or catalogs and you can get one at the local hardware type store.

I start young pups by letting them hear the dremel - giving a treat, handing their feet - giving a treat, letting the dremel hit on the nail a bit - giving a treat, doing one nail at a time and giving treats in between. If your dogs are like mine, they'll do anything for a cookie!

I put mine on the grooming table, but many people do nails while the pup is on the floor or couch.

How often you do nails can depend on the surfaces your dogs walks on ..... concrete will help keep them short, or how fast the nails grow. Some show people do them once a week. Most pet owners can get away with twice a month. Like anything, it's routine care that should be done for your pet's best health.

5.Fleas. With the new products on the market, such as Frontline, there is no excuse for your dog to have fleas. A good fence will keep other flea-bearing dogs out of your yard and keep your dog from going around collecting fleas. To rid your house, yard and dog from fleas, your program must address all three things. Weekly washing of the dog's bedding, vaccuming the house, spraying or dusting of the yard at least every 3-6 mos. and a careful eye on your dog should make your dog and house flea free. Most veterinarians carry several brands of flea products for the house and yard, in addition to treatments for your dog.