Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, but most pet parents will tell you they don’t ‘own’ their dog. More likely, Max or Missy is considered to be a ‘fur baby’, and is treated to premium food and regular grooming. But whether you’ve invested in dog clippers and are a pro at dog grooming yourself, or have a regular appointment booked in at the local doggy salon, there are a number of factors to consider to make sure your pooch is getting the maximum benefits.
Here, Blackmores vet Dr Felicia Tam shares her thoughts on clipping, shampoo, allergies and more.
The benefits of grooming
Regular grooming is going to reduce the amount of hair shed around your house and probably make it smell nicer – but it has many benefits for your dog, too. “Grooming removes dead hair and skin which helps to prevent matting and painful tangles,” says Dr Tam. She also suggests that clipping coats in summer can keep your dog cool and makes it easier to search for ticks.
“Areas that are most prone to matting include the belly and around the tail,” she says. But don’t forget the nails and the ears. “Making sure nails are trimmed and not too long helps to keep dogs walking comfortably,” says Dr Tam. “And keeping ears clean, particularly for dogs prone to infections, can reduce flare-ups.”
What type and how often?
Dr Tam says the type of grooming will depend on the age and breed of your dog. “Grooming requirements can change, particularly if they develop any skin allergies later in life or medical conditions that make them more prone to skin infections,” she says.
“Older dogs tend to have more fragile skin and may need to be groomed more carefully, due to osteoarthritis, in order to help keep them clean and comfortable.” Dr Tam suggests that monthly bathing is suitable for dogs with normal skin, but those with allergies will probably need to be bathed weekly or fortnightly with an appropriate shampoo.
Just don’t use your own shampoo – Dr Tam says this is one of the most common mistakes dog owners make. “Dogs have thinner skin and a higher skin pH than us, so we should be using shampoos formulated for them.” In between washes, Dr Tam suggests regular brushing to keep matting at bay, regardless of coat type. You could also try a grooming spray for easy detangling and a fresh scent.
Dr Tam emphasises that grooming can be a great bonding exercise for dogs and their owners, so it helps if Missy is a willing participant. “Train dogs to be accustomed to it and enjoy it – whether it is by pairing grooming with treats or giving them a pig’s ear to chew afterwards,” she says. “For dogs who are reluctant to have their nails clipped, do a few nails at a time, over a few days.”
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