Regular grooming helps keep your dog’s skin and haircoat healthy. It helps eliminate mats and tangles and gives you a chance to check for ticks and fleas as well as lumps and bumps.
Shedding is a natural process. Indoor lighting and heating, as well as seasonal temperature variations all affect shedding. Most healthy dogs shed twice a year in the spring and fall, while some breeds, like the Pekingese, Collie and Great Pyrenees, shed all year-round. Skin disorders, dietary imbalances, and hormonal fluctuations all affect hair growth and shedding cycles.
* How often your dog needs to be bathed and groomed will vary depending on the breed, the hair length and the dog’s lifestyle. Breeds that shed all year round, like the Pekingese and Collie, need to be brushed regularly and groomed every 4 to 8 weeks to properly maintain their haircoats.
* Breeds with fancy haircuts, like poodles and cocker spaniels, require coat care at four to six week intervals. Poodles shed but their hair does not come out until it is brushed. Maltese and Yorkshire Terriers need attention every couple of weeks just to keep their long, silky coats tangle-free.
* Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and other breeds with relatively short coats need a good bath and brush out three to four times a year.
* Regardless of the breed, the bath is the single most important factor in grooming.
(NOTE: The more hair the dog has, the more coat care he will require.)
(NOTE: A leash prevents excess wandering and makes the job safer and easier. Leave 18 inches of slack so the dog can move around a little bit.)
For long-coated breeds make a “poop shoot” by trimming excess hair from beneath the anal area. This promotes cleanliness and helps prevent several problems, especially with those involving parasites and flies in warm, humid climates. Flies lay eggs in soiled fur which hatch into larvae called maggots. Maggots live on flesh and can cause life threatening infections. English Sheepdogs, Collies and Shelties are at high risk.
(NOTE: Tip: A rubber mat provides secure footing. Boric acid – 2 tablespoons in 1-cup water helps remove eye stains.)
WHAT YOU CAN DO
* Use shampoo and conditioners that are specifically designed for dogs. Your vet will recommend products that are best suited for your dog’s skin and haircoat. Proper grooming equipment also makes the job easier. A slicker brush, along with a metal comb, a pin brush, and a bristle brush work well for most breeds initially.
* Before bathing, brush out the coat and remove mats and tangles. Mats are twice as hard to get out once wet. Lubricate your dog’s eyes with artificial tears, or put a drop of Vitamin E oil in each eye, cotton balls work well to protect the ears. Rinse well and shampoo twice. Leaving the second set of suds on for five to ten minutes lets you get the most residual action from medicated shampoos. Use conditioners sparingly then give the final rinse.
* Your dog may or may not tolerate being dried. In either case, keep dogs indoors until they are dry. Then brush out the coat. Brushing the fur backwards helps remove excess undercoat. Check for mats between the toes and footpads, be sure toenails aren’t too long, and wipe out the ears.
(NOTE: Proper grooming tools are essential to maintain your dog’s coat.)