Q: Cleaning up after my 12-year-old Shih Tzu is very difficult as her old age causes her to make a mess each time she pees and poops. Is there any way I can groom her fur so it does not get dirty as easily?

Grooming a senior dog is not just for looks. The coat and skin are the dog’s first line of defense against environmental attacks such as ticks and colds. When her coat and skin are in poor condition, your dog becomes susceptible to diseases or illnesses. Blood circulation and muscle tone aren’t as good as when your dog was younger, so her ageing coat and skin can’t regenerate as effectively as before. You can make up for the decrease in these functions with a suitable grooming routine.You should bring her to your regular groomer monthly (don’t wait longer than six weeks) for a full grooming session, reminding them to shave her genital and bum areas clean. The salon should also be able to suggest a few pretty Shih Tzu styles that can hide her shaved underside well. If her mess is still getting out of hand, you can consider using dog diapers to make clean-up easier. At home, clean and brush your senior furkid daily. A 15-minute grooming session is a wonderful opportunity for you and your dog to bond and share close physical contact, which is reassuring and satisfying for her. While puppies and young dogs are busy running around and tearing up the house, many older dogs don’t have the energy for such activities. This bonding session will contribute to your dog’s overall sense of well-being, which in turn, stimulates good health. You should take advantage of that time to do routine check-ups for tumours, growths, or changes in skin condition as well.