My husband thinks I take our dog to the groomer too often. How often should our dog be groomed?
In a Hairy Situation
Grooming needs vary depending on the breed of dog, length of fur, type of coat, activities engaged in, as well as environment traversed. The term grooming also encompasses a number of activities ranging from bathing to brushing to nail trimming and more. These activities are not all necessary at the same frequency.
Certain breeds have hair that grows continuously, like our hair. Consequently, these breeds need their hair clipped every 4-8 weeks depending on the type of cut you prefer. If you have one of these breeds, you can purchase the tools and learn how to do the haircuts yourself…but most people go to a professional just like they do for themselves!
Bathing too frequently can be detrimental to your pet’s health. It strips the skin of essential oils. These oils form a protective barrier against sun, rain, parasites, bacteria, and even fungi. Removing these oils also leads to dry skin, which can lead to excessive scratching, and even painful skin infections such as ‘hot spots’. Without oils, your pet’s coat may also look dull and unhealthy. Bathing should generally be done no more than once a month unless directed by your veterinarian for health reasons. If your dog seems to be related to Charlie Brown’s Pigpen, you will need to bathe him more frequently. Be aware that smell should never be the only factor you use to gauge the need for a bath. An infection of the skin, ears, or mouth, can be the source of bad odors, which won’t be solved by a bath.
Brushing on a regular schedule can lessen the need for bathing. A good brushing helps remove dirt, loose hair, and dead skin. It also redistributes the oils through the fur. Brushing prevents matting of the fur, which can cause skin irritation, affect mobility, and cause pain. Brushing regularly is also an additional opportunity to bond with your pet. The massaging action of a good brushing can be a pleasant trust-building interlude between owner and pet. Brushing weekly is a good general rule but some breeds will do better with a daily brushing – and with holidays approaching, it will lessen the chance your guests sit on chairs covered in hair!
An often-neglected part of grooming dogs is the nail trim. Failure to keep the nails at a proper length can lead to limping, joint issues, arthritis, and even back issues! A dog’s anatomy necessitates that the paw pads touch the walking surface in a particular fashion, cushioning the skeletal structure and protecting it from shock. Overly long nails change the way the dog walks and prevent adequate joint protection. Left untouched, the nails can even grow all the way back around again and into the paw pads, causing excruciating pain with every step. An indoor pup living a life of leisure may need his nails trimmed every couple weeks. An active dog who regularly walks on streets and sidewalks may keep his own nails worn down and never need a trim. When you hear your pet’s nails click on the linoleum, or when they snag on the carpet, it is time for a trim.
The primary thing to remember is to make grooming a pleasant, desirable event. Keep it fun. Don’t make it a chore. Done right, it can be a daily stress reducer for both of you!
Send your ‘Ask Annie About Animals’ questions to:
Wolf Song Enterprises, LLC
1657 S. Getty, Suite 28 Muskegon, MI 49442
or email your question to: WolfSongEnterprises@gmail.com
Annette Vida is a licensed veterinary technician with multi-species experience in day clinic, emergency clinic and mobile veterinary care facilities. She is also a certified dog trainer with 40 years experience. Annette has been involved with rescuing animals for decades and shares her home with her wonderful husband and many (rescued) animals. She owns and operates Wolf Song Enterprises, LLC, where she offers animal related consulting services and training. Her office is located at 1657 S. Getty, Ste 28, Muskegon, MI 49442. Call 231-740-3879 for an appointment—home consultations also available. www.WolfSongEnterprises.com