July 21, 2023
Summer Grooming: Why It’s Important And How To Do It
Grooming your dog is an integral part of keeping them healthy. Proper and regular grooming assists the shedding process, helps prevent fleas and ticks, promotes healthy skin and a healthy coat, and can even help detect potential diseases or conditions.
Grooming is a year-round commitment, but it can become especially important during the summer months as you spend more time out of your home and your dog has more opportunities to get dirty. Grooming in the summer also helps keep your dog cooler during warmer weather, defends against common pests, and helps catch potential hazards that may result from outdoor adventures.
Here’s how to keep your dog’s coat happy and healthy during the warmer months!
First off, it’s important to make sure that you do not OVER BATHE your dog. Over-bathing can lead to dry skin, and can potentially strip your dog’s skin of natural oils that help keep them healthy. Whether you are bathing your dog outdoors or in your bathtub, it’s also important to remember to keep the water lukewarm. Water that is too hot or too cold can irritate your dog’s skin and also form a negative association with bath time.
When choosing a shampoo and conditioner, run it by your vet or groomer first. Once you find a product that works for your pet, it’s bath time! Suds your pup up from shoulders to feet, scrubbing gently but getting the soap deep into their coat. You want to be extra thorough with paws as excess dirt can easily get trapped between toes. Wash your dog twice during summertime baths, once to get them clean and once to get them smelling great!
Also, be careful around the eyes and ears as shampoo can irritate both areas. If your dog has signs of an ear infection, such as odor in the ear, redness, discharge, or obsessive scratching or head-shaking, then you’ll need to clean just the outer flap of each ear.
Drying your dog is SUPER important, especially if you have a dog with long hair. For short hair dogs, a simple towel dry should do. For longer-haired dogs, you may need to break out the blow dryer. Regardless of hair length, give your dog a brush after they’ve dried off to remove any dead hair loosened during the bath.
Brushing your dog should be a near-daily task, not just a post-bath ritual. Brushing your dog in the summer not only helps remove any dead fur and debris but also helps your pup maintain a comfortable body temperature. Long hair that is neglected can quickly mat during the more humid months, which can trap heat and make your dog uncomfortable in a hurry. Matting can also lead to more moisture on your dog’s skin, which in turn could lead to skin infections.
Long summer days outside can also mean more opportunities for your pup to injure themselves. A full brush-out means you’ll have time to examine the skin for cuts or rashes that your pup may have sustained from outdoor summer adventures. It’s also a good opportunity to ensure that their paw pads aren’t cracking or drying out.
Trimming your dog’s nails is an essential part of grooming, and it becomes even more important during the summer months. As your dog spends more time outside, they are exposed to more potential bacteria, which can become easily trapped under long nails and cause infection. Beyond that, when your pup’s nails become too long, they can curl under paw pads, making walking uncomfortable and causing potential long-term problems such as arthritis or joint damage.
If you are inexperienced or anxious about trimming your dog’s nails, hire a groomer or ask your vet about proper technique.
You may think that shaving your dog’s thick coat is the best way to keep them cool during the summer. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. Your dog’s coat is necessary for keeping their body temperature regulated, as it helps keep skin safe from the warmth of the sun and even potential sunburns. Beyond that, shaving a double-coated dog can cause long-term ramifications and may even permanently damage their coat.
Instead of a full shave, your dog will benefit more from a basic trim. If you don’t feel confident providing your dog with an at-home haircut, make an appointment with a local groomer.
Not only is grooming a way to keep your dog’s coat healthy and clean, but it also offers you the chance for pest control. Carefully examining your dog’s coat during grooming means you can search for the three major offenders: fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
Fleas are near-impossible to spot, but they leave black particles that look like dirt. When sprayed with water these particles will turn red and let you know your pup has an infestation. Ticks are bigger and easier to find. These external parasites are also typically easy to remove if found early, so make sure to do a full-body scan when grooming your pup. Heartworms are the most elusive of the three. A blood test is typically required to confirm a heartworm infestation, but feeling your dog’s chest for swelling may give some indication there is a problem.
If you are concerned about fleas, ticks, or heartworms, ask your veterinary provider about preventatives, medication, or even medicated shampoos!
Your dog relies on you for quite a bit, including proper grooming during the warmer months. Not only will your dog look (and smell) better, but keeping them groomed will help you avoid costly medical and grooming bills in the future and will keep them safe, happy, and comfortable.