Maltese dogs are beautiful animals, but they will only remain that way if they are adequately cared for. Although all dogs require some degree of maintenance, specific breeds have their own special concerns. Read on to learn more about how to keep your Maltese dog looking pretty.
Cleaning the Ears
It's very important to check your dog's ears on a weekly basis because the Maltese have excess hair in them, which can capture all sorts of dirt. This dirt can lead to a variety of uncomfortable problems for your dog, so a weekly checkup is a must. If you notice signs of inflammation, a strong odor, excessive waxiness, sensitivity, or you see that your dog is scratching is ears shaking his head, he may have an infection or other ear condition that requires a visit to your vet. In addition to health conditions, the hair needs to be removed from the ear canal on a regular basis to allow for better air circulation. Although you can have your vet do this, it will be much cheaper for you to do the cleaning at home. To clean your Maltese dog's ears, simply put some ear powder, available at most pet stores, in your dog's ear canal on the hair you want to remove. Then, you can hold the ear flap up and use your fingers to pluck the hairs out.
In addition to removing hair, you'll also want to remove the dirt from your dog's ears on a regular basis. To do this, use cotton balls and dip them in hydrogen peroxide. Holding the dog's ear flap and clean the inner part of the ear as far down as you can go. Never use a Q-tip to do this, as it will push the dirt further into the ear and may even hurt your dog. Your dog may feel a little comfortable and squirm at first, so it's helpful to touch your dog's ears as a puppy so he will feel comfortable when it comes time for a cleaning.
Giving Your Maltese a Manicure
Unless you want hands and arms that are constantly covered in scratches, you're going to want to trim your Maltese's toenails on a regular basis. A dog's toenails are very similar to a human's toenails, and your objective is trim the clear end of the toenail. It's important to be VERY careful when trimming your dog's nails, because you don't want to cut into the quick, where your dog's sensitive tissue is located. If you hit cut into the quick, you'll immediately be notified by the whelping of your dog and the gushing of the blood from the wound. Most likely, you will have to trim your dog's nails every few weeks, as everyday wear and tear can shorten also shorten your dog's nails.
Before you attempt to trim your dog's nails, it's advisable to make a habit of touching your puppy's paws, to help acclimate him or her to being touched there. Then you can have him sit in front of you or hold him in your hands while you hold his paw in your hand. If your Maltese begins to squirm too much, you can turn him upside-down on your lap so his nails are more accessible and you're in the dominant position. You may have to experiment a few times to find a technique that suits you and your dog the best. The “guillotine” style of nail clippers is said to be the best type of clippers to use, and they are readily available at your local pet store. Never attempt to substitute human nail clippers for dog nail clippers. Human nail clippers are for humans; they aren't made to be used for dogs and may hurt them in the process. One final tip-if your dog has light-colored nails, you're in luck because you'll be able to easily see where the quick ends. If your dog has darker nails, you should trim only the very ends and do so on a frequent basis.
Bath Time For Your Maltese
You'll also want to give your Maltese a bath on a regular basis. Prior to giving him a bath, be sure to brush and comb him to remove excess hair and knots. Place your dog in the bathtub and wet him down prior to applying any shampoo. Use a good quality shampoo and conditioner, and make sure to work up a lather on your dog, reaching every part of his body. Rinse as thoroughly as possible and dry him off with a towel. Try to keep your dog as warm with a towel or space heater during the cold months so he doesn't have to suffer and shiver. Many owners blow dry their dogs after a bath. Make sure to use a medium heat, never high heat as that can damage your dog's coat. Then you can comb his hair from his head down to his back, using a leave-in conditioner if necessary to fight tangles and mats. When you're finished, use a pin brush to fluff your dog's hair to perfection. You may also want to take this opportunity to give your dog's hair a trim, especially around the anus. Many people don't realize that this area needs to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis, because excretions can become caught in the area and block your dog's ability to eliminate.
Ideally, you should brush your dog's teeth on a daily basis. You can find specialty toothpaste for your dog at your local store, as human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be hard on your dog's digestive system. To begin brushing your dog's teeth, rub its teeth and gums with your finger to help him grow used to your hands touching his mouth. You may have to do this for awhile until your puppy feels completely comfortable. Then, you can put a dab of toothpaste on your finger to see how your dogs adjusts to the taste. Once he's used to this, you can begin with a soft-bristled toothbrush with a little bit of dog food. Finally, you're ready to add toothpaste, brushing your dog's teeth gently back and forth.