>How to keep your dog’s coat looking at its best
Fur Tamers: How to keep your dog’s coat looking at its best
Dogs, unlike cats, don’t sit and groom themselves by the hour. Actually, most dogs couldn’t care less about their appearance and couldn’t be happier than when they’re rolling around the ground on something stinky they’ve found. Unfortunately for them, “essence of fido” isn’t a favorite scent of humans and wading through bales of shedding dog hair left on the furniture is way overrated. So until our canine companions totally take over, they’ll have to live with us grooming them and trying to keep their coats healthy and shiny looking.
Pet salons provide a full array of grooming services and many people opt to avail themselves of their services. Prices are usually reasonable and all the mess and fuss are left to the professionals. However, for a variety of reasons not everyone elects to go this route; some don’t bother grooming at all and others just do it themselves at home.
To varying degrees, all dogs require grooming. Long-haired dogs should be brushed and combed two or three times a week. Dogs with thick undercoats should have the dead hair combed out weekly. This will accelerate the shedding process and avoid hairy carpets and furniture. Dogs with shorter hair should still be brushed and rubbed down frequently to keep their coats and skin smart and healthy.
Just like any project, proper grooming requires both technique and tools of the trade. A fine-toothed comb should be used to rake fleas from the coat and for grooming soft, silky coated dogs. The shedding comb offers a “skip-tooth” design; its long teeth pull dead hair from the undercoat while the short teeth collect loose hair. It’s also an excellent tool for removing matted hair. The undercoat rake is especially designed for breeds with thick, heavy coats and undercoats. The teeth are thick, allowing the rake to attack the undercoat while being pulled gently through the dog’s hair.
Although bathing is an essential component in keeping your dog’s coat fresh and presentable, it should not be overdone. Most veterinarians suggest bathing a dog no more than once a month. Over bathing can dry a dog’s skin and lead to hot spots and itching, which can lead to scratching and infection. If a dog is to be bathed more than once a month, an aloe based shampoo and conditioners should be used and foods and supplements with Omega fatty acids should be given to bolster the production of coat oils.
Daily examinations, though admittedly a little too demanding and time consuming for the average pet owner, are a valuable tool in maintaining a dog’s appearance and good health. The dog should be checked for cuts, rashes, fleas, ticks, bumps and burrs and other hitchhikers that might attach to the coat. These should be removed and antibiotics or appropriate medications applied as necessary. Flea allergies and contact allergies can cause skin eruptions and should be treated immediately.
It should be remembered that good skin and a healthy coat begin with a good diet. A little amount of ‘people food” goes a long way for a dog. Usually, a good grade dry dog food will provide all of the nutrition and essential dietary elements necessary to keep a dog in good health. If a dog’s coat is dull or its skin appears itchy, sometimes a change in diet is necessary. However, most often vitamin or fatty acid supplements will eliminate the problem.
As mentioned previously, professional groomers are readily available and should not be overlooked if grooming becomes too demanding. In addition to bathing and combing and thinning the dog’s undercoat, they also clean the ears and clip the dog’s nails. Actually, nails should be clipped weekly and often this is a chore that neither the dog nor the owner handle well. In recent years, the traveling groomer has emerged on the grooming scene. These professionals will come to your home in their Van or RV, which is fully equipped for grooming, and complete the full bathing and grooming process right in your driveway.
Our dogs ask little in return for the limitless love and devotion they bestow upon us. Helping them maintain their health by keeping them groomed is the least we can do to reward their affection.