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Seasonal grooming for dogs

Posted by: Tim Berrisford  Date: 12/06/2014   Category: Owners Guides

No matter what time of year, it is incredibly important to keep your dog happy and healthy by grooming regularly. However, dogs require different levels of grooming depending on seasonal changes, and it’s often difficult to know what’s best for your pet.

Here’s a guide to grooming your dog all year round.

Summer

A lot of owners think it’s a good idea to cut their dog’s fur really short in the summer because they worry their pet will get too hot. In actual fact, dogs are very good at keeping cool, no matter what sort of hair they have. This is because after winter they shed their winter undercoat, but keep their topcoat. This topcoat actually helps keep them cool, as it insulates against the heat as well as also naturally protecting them from sun damage. Remember that just like humans, dogs can get sunburnt too, which has the potential to lead to skin cancer.

Instead of worrying whether they’ll get too hot, focus on the condition of the coat. If you don’t brush your dog, the fur can become matted over time, which can cause your pet some discomfort. A matted coat traps heat and moisture, making your dog’s skin feel irritated, sore and even smell bad. When the coat becomes extremely matted, the only solution is to trim the mats out.

To avoid this problem, it’s recommended that you get your dog’s fur trimmed regularly. Most dogs only need their coat cutting between every four – nine weeks. Dogs with long or fluffy hair, such as Bichons and Afghans, might need their fur trimmed more often.

If you decide not to cut your dog’s hair, you should give them a brush as often as possible – once a day is ideal. This will help remove any fur left over from your dog’s winter coat and prevent excess shedding. Brushing is also an important way to remove any insects or dirt from your dog’s fur.

Baths are vital too during sunnier months. It’s a good idea to switch to an insect-repelling shampoo during the summer to keep all those nasty ticks and flies at bay. Baths are also a great way for your dog to cool down; so rather than cutting all their fur off, just make sure they have plenty of water to drink and a shady place to lie in.

Winter

Much like the misconception that dogs should have shorter hair in the summer, some owners think it’s a good idea to leave their pet’s fur to grow during the winter, but this isn’t always the best choice to make.

Long coats are a lot harder to maintain than short ones. They need to be brushed a lot, take longer to dry, tangle easily and collect dirt. During the winter months, when it rains and snows a lot, your pet will go on many wet walks. When they come back, they’re going to want to get dry. This is easy if they are regularly trimmed and will probably only require a quick rub-down with a towel. Long coats, however, can take hours to dry naturally and if you don’t take the time to brush it, mats will form.

Instead of keeping your pet’s fur long, you can keep them warm by buying them a coat for the winter months. Some owners even buy their dogs special boots to protect their feet from the rain and snow. If your dog isn’t happy to wear these, be sure to rinse their feet in warm water after each winter walk.

Don’t worry about bathing your dog as much in the winter as you do in the summer. The cold weather can make your dog’s skin very dry, as can central heating systems. When you do bath them, try using a conditioning dog shampoo, as this will help get some moisture back into the skin. Remember that bathing your dog too much at any time of year can strip the skin of its natural oils, which can dry it out even further – so don’t overdo it.

Whether spring, summer, autumn or winter, keep an eye on your dog’s feet. Hair that grows between the pads can become long and matted over time if it’s not maintained. If you notice your dog chewing its foot – it might be irritated by matted fur, so keep it trimmed at all times.

Nails should also be cut regularly, but only do it when you need to. Get a good, strong pair of nail clippers and trim the tips of the nails where it begins to turn under. Be sure not to cut the quick; the tender part just above a dog’s nail, as this can be very painful. It’s best to trim nails after a bath, as the warm water makes them softer and therefore easier to cut. Make sure to feed your dog small treats throughout the whole process, so they’re don’t dread having it done next time.

Grooming can take a long time and quite a bit of commitment, but it’s an extremely important part of owning a dog. Pets bring so much joy into our lives, so it’s only right that we give them the very best treatment. The good news is that it’s actually very easy to groom your own dog, but both parties will need a little bit of patience and a lot of treats.