One of the many joys of living with a Basenji is that their grooming needs are minimal. But grooming is something that I take for granted, and sometimes I get a little lax with the not-so-fun stuff. I started to wonder if other Basenji folks might feel the same. For example, when was the last time you cleaned your Basenji's ears? Or had your Basenji "expressed"? Do you find nail trimming to bring out the devil in your Basenji? These are a few of the tasks I consider to be the among the worst chores of Basenji grooming; but because good grooming is akin to good health, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned that may be helpful to anyone who is new to (or maybe just frustrated with) Basenji maintenance.
EARS: The outside of your Basenjis ears need to be cleaned regularly. Basenjis are low to the ground, so those radar ears pick up a goodly amount of dirt and wax, which can build up and become a real problem. Try to avoid probing your B's ears with a Q-tip. Focus on the outer ear, using a soft, slightly damp cloth or wipe. It's also a good idea to wipe the ears after a bath (use a corner of the damp towel). If your Basenji has a black, greasy build-up on the edges of the outer ear, apply a thin layer of Vaseline and wipe gently. It may take more than one go at it to remove all the build-up. If you notice any mold or fungus on your Basenji's ears (which does happen sometimes), take him to the vet, because at this point, it has gone past anything you can do at home.
NAILS: While there are a few exceptions, most Basenjis absolutely hate to have their feet touched. If your Basenji is more of a handful than you can manage alone, here are a few things that might help:
- use a muzzle
- enlist the aid of another person (one to trim the nails and one to hold the dog)
- make sure your Basenji is standing on a solid, unmoving surface
- a dremel tool is the fastest way to neat nails and prevents painful cuts to the quick
- be firm, but gentle - don't yell or get frustrated
- be generous with treats, during the trimming if necessary, but especially afterwards, and with lots of praise
- if things start to get out of control, STOP! it's better to take your Basenji to the vet or to a grooming professional, than for him to feel unsafe in your arms
HINEY: Ahem...well, we have to address this sooner or later. For those of you unfamiliar with anal expression, I will try to explain this as simply and (hopefully) as gracefully as possible. Just inside the anal cavity are anal glands, one on each side. When these anal glands, or sacs, fill with fluid, the fluid needs to be removed. The procedure to remove the fluid is called "expressing". How often it needs to be done varies from dog to dog. A vet can do this quickly and for a low fee. You could learn to do it yourself, but it is not a pleasant experience. My advice: if you have a queasy stomach, leave it to the professionals. **A word about nutrition and the Basenji bottom: good quality food and a little extra fiber will help keep things "moving" and reduce the need for anal expression. Plain, canned pumpkin without any added spice is a great source of fiber! **
Of course, these are just a few examples. Remember: different things work for different Basenjis; so don't be afraid to stick with what works for you and your Basenji. And if you have any grooming stories and tips, please feel free to leave a comment or start a discussion below. Happy grooming!