Dog Grooming Leads to Healthy Coats  

by Pool Builders on 06-25-2007 in Articles

Your dog depends on his coat for insulation from the summer heat and winter cold. His coat protects his skin from twigs and thorns and keeps his skin from drying out. The hollow hairs of his coat let him concentrate on swimming rather than staying afloat.

Unfortunately for your dog, his coat is also the perfect place for parasites to live, threatening both human and canine health. Burrs and hairy seeds hitch a ride on his coat, matting it and irritating his skin. But, you don't have to call the expensive groomer just yet. With some daily maintenance a dog can easily maintain a healthy, glowing coat.

Dogs are very successful at grooming themselves, because it is a natural part of their life. As puppies, they are massaged and cleaned by their mothers, limiting skin-borne diseases and promoting strong blood flow to developing muscles and bones. As they become more self-sufficient, they assume responsibility for grooming themselves and become very good at it. However, a dog that lives inside a home needs extra attention that they won't give themselves.

Frequent brushing is the number one thing an owner can do for a dog's coat. Always stroke with the coat using light pressure and a soft-bristled brush. This removes shedding hair and clears tangles while they are still small. Again, using light pressure and stroking with the coat, complete the job with a fine-toothed flea comb.

Dogs with longer and thicker coats have a constant problem with snarls and tangles. Don't pull on your dog's hair to clear them. While water will soften caked mud and fecal matter, you are going to have to use scissors or clippers to clear hopeless tangles and burrs.

If your dog has an unnatural fear of grooming instruments, brushing can be traumatic instead of relaxing. Groomers sometimes use sedatives on these dogs, but there is a much safer way to relieve the anxiety. First, relieve the nervous energy by wearing him out at the park playing fetch or with a long walk. Then, have him lie down in a calm state and let him see, smell, and taste the instruments. Give him as much time as he needs to overcome his anxiety in a calm, submissive way.

Grooming sessions are a good time to look closely at your dog's skin. Look for irritations, ticks and fleas, or infections. While most skin problems can be easily remedied at home, you will probably want a veterinarian to inspect infections.

Dry skin indicates your dog does not have enough oil in his diet. Mix a teaspoon of vegetable oil into his food. This will help moisturize the skin and provide that healthy coat glow. Although swimming pools can contribute to skin dryness, swimming is such good exercise that you need to balance recreation with skin care. Bathing with shampoo should be done as infrequently as possible.

Prevent ticks and fleas before you have to deal with them. Regularly apply breed-appropriate flea and tick prevention medicine to your dog. If you do find a tick on your dog, grasp the tick's head with tweezers. You want the jaws to stay attached to the head and not remain in your dog so jerk straight out. Don't touch the tick with bare fingers or grasp it by the body. Thoroughly wash your hands after destroying the tick.

Excessive scratching or broken skin may be signs that your dog is infested with fleas. What's worse is that fleas are probably already in your house. Check around for what looks like granules of salt and pepper. If you see them, you probably have a flea infestation.

You can easily clean the dog with a doggy shampoo bath and a flea dip. The house is going to take a lot more work than that.

Vacuum all carpets, baseboards, and upholstered furniture. Immediately dispose of the vacuum bag outside. Treat all the furniture and carpets with flea insecticide. This specially-formulated insecticide is toxic, so separate your kids and animals from the treated surfaces until the insecticide dries.

Grooming should be like a daily, relaxing massage for your dog. Keeping his coat healthy and clean protects your family and your home from dirty little surprises.

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