Our furry companions are near and dear to our hearts, and caring for them requires not only love, but it also requires dedication. Maintaining our dogs’ hair-do is simply part of the job title as a pet owner. For some pet owners, this may be easier than others depending on what type of dog you have. If your dog has an especially fluffy coat, there is often a greater deal of work involved in grooming. Furthermore, if grooming your dog is not a priority, you may notice the amount of dog hair around your house becoming unruly and somewhat distasteful. If you are frustrated with the never-ending piles of dog hair accumulating around your home, you may also have discovered by trial and error that some techniques work better than others. Maintaining your dog’s fur is important to the health of the animal as well as the livability of your home. If you don’t have the money to contribute to a grooming service, here are a few tips on how to maintain your dog’s coat yourself.
Many people overlook the necessity of grooming and brushing their dogs as an opportunity to examine the dog for bites, bumps, and scratches, or even more serious wounds that may not have been noticed if the tine had not been taken to brush through that thick fur. Brushing your dog is also a prerequisite to bathing them—it eliminates a good majority of the hair they lose in the bath and, if done regularly, can decrease the overall amount of hair they shed daily throughout your home. If you wash your dog before brushing, the fur can become heavily matted. Not all dogs like to be brushed and groomed, however, if made into a relaxing, routine practice, your dog will enjoy grooming and won’t fight you each step of the way. In fact, only five to ten minutes per week is sufficient for most dogs coats to be maintained.
Some fluffier dogs have what is called a “double coat” where they shed an undercoat twice a year. This process can take several weeks, but it is critical to know about this stage of hair growth and loss because in this period your dog requires more intense grooming rituals. Losing a large amount of dead hair while simultaneously growing a new coat can be problematic—it causes severe matting and tangling if not adequately prevented and maintained. Depending on your dog’s fur, there are plenty of tools that are designed specifically for this purpose, such as a shedding rake. With minimal effort, a shedding rake will remove the bulk of excess dog fur momentarily. In the worst case scenario, you may need to cut out the matted fur on a dog with severe matting if it will not come out with a fine-toothed comb. It is common to use slicker brushes and detangling products to help remove matted fur while not damaging other healthy fur.
One of the signature features of a happy, healthy animal is their coat. A beautiful, shiny, soft, coat is a telltale sign of a well cared for dog. If good grooming habits are maintained, what is going on with their fur could be a result of their diet. Dogs need an adequate amount of meat in their diet, and therefore the main ingredient in any dog food should be protein. Finding a dog food that is not loaded with fillers like flax, grain, and corn can not only prevent coat abnormalities, but will also prevent allergic reactions; as many common fillers are also common allergens for most dog breeds. Keep your dog’s water dish clean and full of fresh water—keeping them hydrated is essential to their overall health, which will reflect in their coat.
Lastly, bathing your dog too often, or with harsh chemically filled soaps can cause your dog’s coat to be less shiny, or much worse, cause dry skin and dandruff. Every dog’s coat produces essential oils that protect their skin and hair follicles—bathing them too often removes this protective oil and consequently their skin can become irritated. Depending on your surroundings and the thickness of your dog’s coat, you may only need to bathe your dog once a month. Don’t forget to brush beforehand! Happy grooming.