When I used to think of grooming as a kid, I pictured a show dog with bows in my head. I thought it was all about the appearance. But once aged wisdom kicked in, I realized there was more to it than just looking pretty. So let’s get down to it!
The frequency of a bath is less important than the other grooming habits. Wash only when necessary because no matter which dog shampoo you use, if it lathers, it strips your dogs’ skin of its natural oils. Thus, making it susceptible to certain microbes, infection, or skin conditions.
Bath only when necessary such as:
- If your dog rolled in something too stinky for your nose to bear.
- If a toxic substance got on him.
- After he goes swimming in the lake, river, or any body of water to prevent Duck Itch. Read about the 7 Water Parasites and Diseases that can affect your dog in this article by PetMD here.
All dogs shed at varying levels depending on the breed. And yes, short hair dogs shed too. Using the right type of comb, or brush, or a combination of both to brush your dog often will prevent future problems. With long-haired dogs with an undercoat, matting becomes a problem when left unattended for too long. Severe matting could cause fungal issues underneath the skin, less oxygen reaches there, and moisture builds up. A BIG FAT matte is a great hiding place for tiny little organisms. If you can’t brush the matte out, it will need to be cut out with scissors. If you’re dealing with very severe matting in which you don’t have experience with, let a professional groomer take care of it. Otherwise, brushing is something you can do regularly to keep the shedding at bay.
Brushing is essential because:
- It prevents matting of the hair, which can be painful to the long-haired, double-coated dog.
- It stimulates and massages the skin cells, and hair follicles, letting it breathe and distributes their natural oils.
Bathing and Brushing allows you to discover any of the following:
- Skin lesions
- Cuts or bruises
- Abnormal growths
Keeping their nails trimmed protects their posture and prevents pressure pain in the paws. It prevents imbalance and alignment issues in the joints of the leg and spine over the long term. Not all domesticated dogs wear down their nails by digging or navigating extensive terrain as wild dogs do. If you want to keep the nails short, you will have to trim them regularly because the longer the nail, the longer the Quick (The blood vessel in the nail) will grow. When you leave it too long, you won’t be able to trim it all the way back because of the Quick. Instead, you will have to trim a little bit close to the Quick, then wait a week or two to let the Quick recede back a bit. Then cut a bit more, then wait for the Quick to recede back some more, and so forth. It will take some time. If you happen to accidentally cut into the Quick, keep Styptic Powder on hand to stop the bleeding. If that happens, it is painful for your dog because there are nerve endings in the nail, but it’s not the end of the world, so don’t panic if that happens. If nail trimming makes you nervous, let your Groomer or your Vet handle it. The cost for just a nail trim on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, depending on the need, is so minuscule there should be no excuse for not doing it.
Ears and Mouth
You can check the ears for any ear mites or dirt build-up. Flushing the ears with an ear solution once a month will help clean out dirt. Check gums and teeth for any inflammation or chipped teeth.
Hair Trim? Sure! Shave? NO!
Trim the hair on the paw pad. Some single-coated breeds will need the hair trimmed away from the eyes, or the butt area. Single coated breeds will generally need their hair cut because it can grow quite long.
DO NOT SHAVE double-coated dogs! Dogs that have a top layer guarded coat with an undercoat should not be shaved. You will be doing more harm to your dog. Shaving the double coat will NOT make it cooler for your dog in the summer. In fact, you are inviting sunburn, hot spots, and heat stroke to play with your dog. Your dog will really feel the heat without his fur there to protect his skin from the sun. And what about all the bugs?? The Mosquitos bites?? That coat is there to protect your dog from being ambushed by all sorts of insects. In the spring, your dog will shed most of its undercoat, but the topcoat is there to let air circulate through, repel water, dirt, insects, and the sun. It will trap cool air close to the body. Before winter, the undercoat grows thick to keep him warm by trapping the heat close to the body.
Lastly, shaving the double coat damages the structure of the fur follicles, texture, strength, and compromises the effectiveness in protecting against the elements for the rest of its life. The fur will not grow back correctly the same way again.
If you are shaving because you think that it will stop the shedding, you’re wrong. It does not stop shedding. If you think shaving will help your allergies, it won’t. If you think shaving will cool down your dog, it doesn’t. Remember, dogs are not humans. They’re cooling down process does not work the same as us. They don’t sweat the same as us. Their anatomy is not the same as ours. The sooner we as humans can accept and understand this, the better our dogs will be off in every way. Instead of trying to CHANGE the dog to suit you, try doing your research first to pick the right type of dog to begin with, then learn to adapt to that dog’s needs.
DO NOT DYE your dog’s hair. Do I really need to explain this? (Shaking head)
So Why is Grooming Important to My Dogs Health?
It gives us a chance to spot anything that is out of the norm and treat it accordingly. General maintenance prevents problems in the future. If you don’t feel comfortable grooming your dog yourself, leave it to the professional groomer. Otherwise, something as simple as brushing and nail trims will go a long way. Happy grooming!