Grooming for the Seasons
The benefits of grooming your dog are boundless, from helping to form a special bond to staying on top of their health issues. And while grooming is recommended year-round, each season comes with its own challenges. Thankfully there are tips and tricks to help you be a seasoned dog owner, no matter the time of year:
The temperatures have dropped, and you might not be excited about a walk around the block, but your dog still is. Winter doesn’t mean the end to outdoor activities for your dog, but it does mean it’s time to be especially mindful of his paws. Without preventative measures, your dog’s feet are susceptible to cracks, irritation or infections from the snow, salt, gravel and ice. What’s more, you don’t want your pup licking any of those deicing chemicals from his paws. To minimize these problems, keep cleaning wipes by the door and wipe off your dog’s feet after each walk. Special care should be taken to groom your dog’s paws too. For example, the long hair that grows between the pads of your dog’s feet can collect clumps of snow that turn to ice making it painful for your dog to walk. A trimmer can help clean up this delicate area.
As new buds sprout on the trees, new fur is growing in your dog’s coat. This means spring is a crucial time to refresh your dog’s exterior by brushing out the winter undercoat and making way for the healthy new fur. While brushing should be a part of your regular grooming routine, during this peak shedding season it’s particularly important. But before you start brushing away, consider the type of fur your dog has so you can be sure to use the right kind of brush. For example, a shedding blade works great for pulling out a feathery undercoat, while a slicker brush is best for a short, dense coat. And if your dog has a long or silky coat, brushing is recommended with a steel pin brush, which is designed to help circulate the natural oils in your dog’s coat. Whatever the brush, take your time and be gentle, especially when removing mats or tangles.
There’s a misconception that a shorter haircut will keep your dog cool during the hot summer months. However, according to veterinarians, your dog’s coat has many layers and acts as insulation, or built-in climate control. What’s more, fur is meant to be your dog’s first line of defense from sunburn, scratches and more. This doesn’t mean, however, that his coat doesn’t need to be maintained with baths, brushing and trims.
Summer is also the time of year when your dog is more adventurous, which can make dog grooming, well, more of an adventure. For example, if your dog likes to cool off with a jump in the pool or lake, it’s important to pay special attention to his ears. Just like humans, dogs can get ear infections if water gets stuck in there. Use a trimmer to groom excess fur from your dog’s ears, and after a dip gently wipe the inside flap of your dog’s ear with a cotton ball.
Finally, let’s not forget that you can’t get through the dog days of summer without addressing the particularly vigilant fleas and ticks. Thankfully you can help keep these critters at bay the all-natural way by clipping, trimming, brushing, and bathing regularly.
With squirrels to chase and piles of leaves to jump in, what doesn’t your dog love about fall? Unfortunately, with all this frolicking, your dog has a habit of bringing the foliage home with him. The best way to cut down on this mess in your home is to maintain the mess outside your home. Maintaining your yard by raking and trimming will minimize the leaves, burs and brush that stick to your dog’s fur. Even with these steps, however, you can’t prevent your dog from finding something unfavorable to roll around in. So if your dog does need a bath, make sure he is completely dry before going outside again. Since fall temperatures can be cool, it’s easy for dogs, especially small or short hair breeds, to become chilled. And if they’re exposed to cold for too long they could develop hypothermia, which is most likely to occur when a dog is wet. A great alternative is a no-rinse waterless shampoo, that’s designed to give your pet a clean, fresh smell without bathing.
The above guidelines are a great start to having a happy and healthy pet year round, but for even more grooming tips geared for your particular breed visit the Care for my Dog section of our website