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Take Bite Out Of Doggie Grooming Costs

Looking for ways to curb your spending? If you're a dog owner, you could save a bundle by grooming your pooch at home, rather than using a professional, whose fees can really add up.

Grooming not only keeps doggies looking good -- it's good for their health.

And on The Early Show Saturday, our own Dr. Debbye Turner and Dr. Karen Halligan, who are both veterinarians, gave pointers on, and precautions about home-grooming.

Halligan is one of the judges on Animal Planet's new reality show, "Groomer Has It."

BRUSHING FUR

All dogs need to be brushed -- long-haired dogs should be brushed every day, and short-haired dogs two or three times a week. Brushing makes dogs feel good, and spreads oils in the fur, so it keeps the fur looking good. If a dog or cat's skin gets matted, it can lead to skin infections. You shouldn't use human brushes -- they're not effective on dog hair. Use a "slicker" brush on long-haired dogs and a "pin brush" on short-haired ones. Brush the hair, not the skin. Start when your dog's a puppy -- get him or her used to it -- it's something that should be done for the rest of their life. "It can be a great bonding session for you and your pet, where they look forward to being groomed and brushed," Halligan said.

BRUSHING TEETH

You need to brush your dog's teeth every day or at least every other day to make a difference. Oral disease is the No. 1 health problem with dogs and cats. "There are some serious health problems that can result from having bad teeth and gum disease," Turner pointed out. It can lead to heart problems. Dogs' teeth are very much like ours. Start with small steps. Keep the sessions short and fun, and then work your way up. Don't use toothpaste made for people: It foams up, and dogs can't spit it out. Also, don't use a toothbrush meant for humans. The bristles are too stiff. You can use a finger cot with bristles. Use a circular motion, where the gum meets the tooth. "If they're resisting," Halligan noted, "you could put your finger in some bullion and just start rubbing their gums. You want your dog to enjoy it. Get them into a routine."

BATHING YOUR DOG

A good rule of thumb is to bathe your dog when he isn't huggable anymore (stinky). If that doesn't work, about once a month is good. A very active dog can be bathed more often. If you use the right shampoo, a bath isn't bad for the skin. Use lukewarm water. Start at the butt and tail and work you way forward. Use a washcloth on the head to avoid the ears and eyes. Put a matt down in the bathtub, so the dog doesn't slip. Keep water out of their ears and eyes. Put a cotton-ball in their ears (water causes ear infections). "If you do get water in their ears, use an ear-cleansing solution made for dogs and cats," Halligan said. "No Q-Tips or mineral oil, any of that stuff."

CLIPPING NAILS

A dog with long nails is equivalent to a woman always walking around in high heels -- it's uncomfortable, and leads to joint and back problems. You need to learn how to do it from a professional. You should start when your dog is a puppy. If you do it right, there should be no blood. In case there is blood, you should have a product called "Quick Stop."

You should avoid doggie haircuts at home and go to a professional for this one thing -- haircuts are dangerous for dogs. Giving them is a skill, and you should leave it to the pros. You can damage their coat if you do it wrong.

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