The importance of regular grooming

Published 7:02 pm Saturday, December 5, 2009

Does my dog need a haircut in the winter? That is a question we get asked all the time at the shop. The answer is yes.

You may not want to go as short as you do in the summer, but regular coat maintenance is very important.

Not only does regular grooming make your dog look better, it keeps them healthy and feeling their best.

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Dogs with long coats require, of course, more care and brushing. If long coats are not regularly brushed, they will become tangled and then matted.

Matted hair can be detangled if treated early, but if left neglected it will require the coat to be shaved short.

Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Poodle, and most Poodle mixes are all examples of dog breeds with coats that become matted easily.

Not only does a matted coat have an undesirable look, it also is uncomfortable to the dog.

A very tight ponytail is the best way to describe the feeling.

I see it all the time, an owner will skip a few regular grooms in the winter and then be upset when they find out that their pooch has to be cut short when the spring comes.

Very few people are disciplined enough to keep show cut lengths properly brushed.

What we find works well for most owners of these breed types is a “puppy cut.” A puppy cut is typically around a-half-inch” in length and very manageable when groomed regularly.

We recommend that dogs with these types of coats be groomed every 4 to 6 weeks and no longer than 8 weeks.

Regular shampoos are just as important as regular haircuts. Clean skin and fur will keep your pet’s coat healthy and shiny.

If your pet has fleas, it is important to bathe them in a shampoo that will rid them of the infestation. Some flea shampoos contain a pesticide or you can purchase one with a natural pesticide, such as Neem.

It is best to leave them lathered up for 10 minutes to fully rid your pet of the fleas. If fleas are not a problem, we recommend a soap-free, fragrance-free, oatmeal shampoo.

Soap-free is important because soap-free shampoos will not remove spot-on flea preventatives. Fragrance-free is important because many dogs have allergic reactions to fragrances.

Also, keep your pet’s ears clean. You can purchase a solution specifically made for keeping pet ears clean and healthy. Be sure to follow the directions carefully.

A damp wash cloth can be used to clean out the outer edges of the inside part of the ear.

Toenail clipping seems to be the most feared home grooming task. Toenails can either be cut with traditional pet nail clippers or smoothed down with a rotary tool.

If the toenails are very long they will need to be cut first and then smoothed down. Clear nails are easier for a beginner than dark nails.

It is best to cut a little at a time to be sure not to cut the quick. If nails are not regularly trimmed they will start to curl and can even start to penetrate the pad of the dog’s foot.

We recommend that nails be trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks.

Grooming is as important to your pet’s health as regular vet visits. A neglected coat can cause skin irritations or infections.

Regular visits to the groomer, or if you feel confident, regular home grooming sessions will keep your pet feeling and looking like a million barks.

Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Kate Barker, The BARKer Shop