Caring for Italian Greyhounds
Compared to many dog breeds, Italian Greyhounds are a relatively low maintenance breed of dog. They don't usually have the "dog smell" of other breeds, nor do they shed a lot. Since Italian Greyhounds are a short-haired breed, grooming in a traditional sense, by brushing their hair on a regular basis, isn't needed. However, like any dog they do need bathing, their nails need kept short, and glands sometimes expressed, squeezed, or drained.
Brushing an Iggy's Teeth
Keeping an Italian Greyhound's teeth clean is essential to maintaining good health. Many owners will brush their dog's teeth daily to keep plaque build-up to a minimum. Most pet retailers sell doggie tooth brushes and paste for cleaning a dog's teeth for a very reasonable cost. A dog who does not have dental care at home will need more regular dental cleanings by a veterinarian, generally costing a few hundred dollars every year. Dogs who do not have their teeth regularly brushed and scaled by a vet on occasion, can develop more serious health issues stemming from infections and disease that originate in the mouth, not to mention bad breath, pain from infection, or even rotting teeth. A veterinarian should examine every Italian Greyhound's teeth at least annually.
Bathing an Italian Greyhound
For many Italian Greyhounds a bath is needed every so often, to keep them smelling fresh, and to help prevent dirt and bacteria from accumulating in their coats. If you have a boy dog, you may need to wipe down their front legs or chest after a potty trip outside. And, after a long day of playing outside, or rolling in various stinky things found in their yard, it may be a good idea to give them a quick cleansing before they are ready to snuggle under the blankets at night.
Cleaning the Ears
At a minimum keep monitor if your Italian Greyhound's ears are building up wax and dirt that may be irritating them, and causing them to itch or get infected. Heavy or dark buildup can be indicative of other problems such as an infection or ear mites even. Cleaning the ears isn't difficult but should be done with care. You should only clean the widest part of the ear, without entering the ear canal. If wax buildup is especially heavy, a veterinary visit may be needed.
Nail Trimming and Foot Care for IGs
Nail trimming should be done every few weeks, so that the nails do not start to curl and cause discomfort to the dog with every step. Keeping the dog's nails short also prevents them from catching them on things, breaking them off, or simply even snagging your clothes while begging for attention. Although many groomers rarely see Italian Greyhounds, this is one service for which they may get called upon. Trimming an Italian Greyhound's nails isn't hard, but it takes a steady hand not to get them trimmed too close, and a little patience at times also.
When trimming an Italian Greyhound's nails, you need to be careful not to cut in to the quick, which will make the nails bleed. This can be particularly challenging if the dog has black nails, versus the somewhat opaque white nails through which the pink quick area can generally be seen. Some owners actually will cut the nails back a short distance, and then use a Dremel or similar tool to grind the nails back to a shorter length. Using a Dremel tool is often a less traumatic way to get the nails short, and smooth out the rough edges that typical nail trimming often leaves. And, don't forget dew claws for the dogs who haven't had them removed already.
While regularly trimming the nails keep an eye on the pads of the feet. They should be soft and pliable. If they are dry, hard, cracked or flaking a daily moisturizing may be needed, or a even a special trip to the vet for a cream to help overcome the problem. Products like Udder Balm are good for helping keep the feet pads well moisturized during the cold dry winter months if applied regularly.
Anal Gland Expression
Not a fun subject to discuss, but a procedure that sometimes needs performed. If your dog is dragging their butt against the ground or on your furniture, there are two likely causes... they may either need their anal glands squeezed, or they may potentially have picked up a parasitic worm from the environment. These glands located just inside the dog's butt can be expressed by an owner who is knowledgeable about how to do it, but the liquid that comes out has an extremely unpleasant smell, can make a huge mess, and may trigger a gag reflex in people. Most veterinary clinics or grooming salons will express a dog's anal glands for a small fee. It is something that does need done on occasion in almost all breeds of small dog, including Italian Greyhounds.
Basic Medical Care
Routine medical care isn't something we can simply cover in a paragraph or two, so check out our page about Routine Medical Care for Italian Greyhounds including shots, dental cleanings, heartworm checkups and preventatives.