Short hair, long hair, and coarse hair! However they wear it, our dogs are covered in hair and taking care of it should form part of their regular healthcare routine. Regular grooming is great for their coat, great for their skin and is also proven to be a great bonding exercise.
Not only will regular grooming increase healthy blood flow to the coat and skin, it is also a great way of desensitising your dog from handling typically problematic areas such as ears, paws and tail. With regular grooming sessions you will be provided with the perfect opportunity to check your dog for any lumps, bumps or skin irritations that could otherwise very easily go unnoticed.
Grooming regularity is dependant on the type of fur your dog has. For short haired or smooth coats a minimum of once a week is recommended.
Whereas a rough or long coated dog will require much more regular brushing and clipping to keep it at a manageable length and to prevent matting.
Clipping is usually best left to those who have trained professionally. This is not just so that you get a more aesthetically pleasing result but also because they will have had the appropriate training and equipment to ensure no accidental injuries occur. Take care to check all groomer’s qualifications; the most recognised is a City and Guilds certificate in Dog Grooming. You can always get recommendations from vets and breeders. Lastly be aware clipping is often required much more frequently in the summer months to help keep your dog cool in the heat-don’t forget to always remember sun screen application to newly exposed skin to prevent any nasty sunburn.
Some dogs such as terrier breeds often require a form of grooming known as ‘stripping’ to help remove dead hairs as they struggle to shed as well as other breeds. Again, this is job for a professional groomer.
When it comes to choosing the right brush here is a quick guide of those widely available and how best they should be used;
• Pin Brushes: These help to remove small tangles and dead fur from both the top and under coat. The length of the pins can vary, with longer pins on the brush being better for dogs with longer and thicker coats.
• Slicker Brushes: These brushes have fine, short wires close together and are good for removing mattes and tangles in medium to long-haired breeds such as golden retrievers and spaniels. Be careful not to apply too much pressure as they can be uncomfortable is a tangle in the coat gets caught.
• Bristle Brushes: Perfect for short haired, smooth-coat breeds that shed frequently. These brushes are fine for finishing off long coats but wont de-tangle long coats sufficiently enough. They help to remove loose hair and are great at stimulating blood flow to the skin.
• Rakes: These great tools main purpose is to help de-matt and condition thick coats. They should be used with care and with minimal pressure, as they are similar to a razor in the way the remove dead undercoat. Always ensure you buy the right size pins that roughly match your dogs’ coat length. If they are too short they will not penetrate deep enough to remove fur in the undercoat, and if too long they could irritate the skin.
Many clients also ask me about supplements and if they are worth considering to improve the condition of the coat. Nothing replaces a balanced healthy diet, but supplements have been shown to improve the skin and coat in dogs that suffer with chronic skin conditions or allergies. It might be worth speaking to your vet to see if they are suitable for your dog.
Paul Manktelow regularly appears in the media as one of the UKs leading veterinary surgeons. His accomplished career as a vet allows him to talk on a number of key animal subjects and he regularly provides valuable advice to pet owners across the UK. Appearing on TV shows such as Junior Vets, Animal Madhouse and This Morning, he also writes columns for the Times, Dogs Monthly and blogs on his popular website Vital Pet Health