As the weather changes from cold to hot, you may feel that your dog would stay cooler if you cut his fur. However, before you do that, you need to think about what type of dog you have and what the layers of fur actually do for a dog, particularly if they are a double coated breed.
Look into the type of coat your particular dog has. Not all coats are the same, and what may seem cooler to you may not actually be helping your dog. In many cases, it’s better to opt for daily grooming and maintenance instead of shaving off your dog’s protective fur. You may be doing more damage than good by removing natural covering.
Types of Dog Hair
Some dogs have what is called a double coat. It is actually two layers of hair that are meant to protect the dog from the elements, including heat. The undercoat is thicker and softer than the overcoat. The double layers actually trap cooler air in against the dog’s body. It is built-in insulation. Huskies and German Shepherds are two types of dogs with double coats. It may look hot to you and be work to take care of their coat, but you may be doing them a disservice by shaving them if it is not absolutely necessary because of extreme coat damage.
Other dog breeds have single coats, such as the Doberman Pinscher or the French Bulldog. Some dogs are non-shedders or low shedders, such as the Poodle, Kerry Blue Terrier or Lakeland Terrier, but some non-shedders or low shedders can be double coated as well. The point is to know and understand your particular dog’s breed and coat type before you make any decisions regarding shaving or clipping for hot weather.
Dogs do some of their own grooming and caring for their coat. You may see them licking dirt off their hair or tugging at foreign matter to remove it with their teeth, but they need your help to keep their coat and nails in optimum condition. Grooming your dog is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. Here are five ways you can assist your canine companion with his grooming.
Matted or tangled hair attracts and traps dirt, pests such as ticks, and debris from playing outside. The matting hampers the natural ability for the coat to do its job of keeping the dog warm in cool months and cooler in hot months. When your dog’s coat is matted, not only does it make him look unkempt and uncared for, it can contribute to poor health by trapping things that can damage the skin and bring disease to your dog.
Some breeds do not require a lot of brushing to keep their coat tangle free, but even those dogs can benefit from regular brushing to remove debris and dirt and to help to keep their coat healthy.
All dogs have different rates of nail growth, and how they exercise may help determine if they actually need a trim or not. Many dogs exercise on softer surfaces like grass fields, dirt paths or even indoors. Those surfaces don’t provide a great deal of friction for nails to file down as they play. Dogs that get a lot of exercise on hard surfaces such as concrete sidewalks or rough asphalt roads may get enough filing that their nails wear down naturally, but they may still need them trimmed on occasion.
You may notice that their nails are getting too long when they jump on you or up on a favorite resting spot, or when their excessively long nails are scratching the floor. Long nails can cut skin and rip furniture. They can cause pain and injury to your dog as well.
Different breeds of dogs have different nail growth patterns. Some have higher knuckles and some are more flat to the ground. That can determine how often or when they need their nails trimmed. You will learn with your own dog what their speed and type of nail growth is and how to deal with it.
Walking and Running
When a dog’s nails are too long, it can hamper their ability to walk and run correctly. To put it in human terms, imagine your own toenails growing so long that they curl under your toes or constantly rub against the ground, or make your shoes painful to wear by jamming back against the base of your nails from pressure against the tips. It would definitely make the actual process of ambulation more difficult for you. Sure, you would adapt, but you prevent the problems to begin with by keeping your nails trimmed. You can do the same thing for your dog.
We live on the coast of South Carolina. If you are familiar with this area, you may have become acquainted with pluff mud (aka plough mud), a slippery, oozy, brownish, grayish, viscous sucking mud. This slimy mud, which is abundant around our tidal flats and salt marshes, has an accompanying aroma that is like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. I’m not sure I can accurately describe the smell in words but I can tell you this, it’s nearly impossible to wash out of dog fur. The mud itself takes a firm hand and lots of elbow grease to remove, but that smell has a lingering quality that you almost have to get used to. I often say our dogs smell like a combination of popcorn and pluff mud.
Our dogs get into pluff mud a lot. One of our favorite places to let them run is deep in a small island not far from our house. Of course the island is rife with the stuff and our dogs love to romp through it. Not to digress too far off topic, but you have to be careful around pluff mud because you can sink into it and get stuck. So can dogs. Just saying.
Every time we take the pups for off-leash playtime, we know we’re going to have a long, intense grooming session afterwards. Fortunately, they are used to the routine and understand that “if you want to play, you’ve got to pay” so they stand by patiently as we soap them up and wash them down.
If you are a new dog owner or your dog has recently discovered the joys of pluff mud (or skunk chasing or stink rolling, etc.), here are three grooming mistakes to avoid.
Grooming and playing are two great ways to bond with your pet. Grooming also gives you an opportunity to monitor your pet’s overall health and gain their trust. Sitting down regularly with your pet will leave them feeling good about themselves (even though they may complain the whole time) and it gives you time with your favorite furry friend.
Hair clipping will be included in your pet grooming routine if you have a long haired dog. Some dogs, like Siberian Huskies, have lots of hair between their paw pads. When the hair grows too long, ice and snow can collect on the hair and cut the dog’s pads. Tiny rocks can be held in between their pads by the long hair and can injure their feet. It can be harder for them to walk on slippery surfaces because they can’t get proper traction walking on the overgrown hair. Long haired dogs may also need to have the hair in and around their ears trimmed.
Combing or brushing is an essential part of pet grooming. It helps remove loose hair as well as dirt and debris along the skin and in their coat. Medium to long haired dogs and long haired cats can have tangled, matted hair that pulls on the pet’s skin and mats can be difficult to remove. Regular brushing can help keep their coats mat free. Brushing stimulates their skin, removes dirt along the skin and in their coat and gets rid of loose hair that won’t end up on the living room furniture or on an unsuspecting house guest. This is a good time, while your pet is relaxed, to run your hands over their body and check for any lumps, skin irritations or sores hidden under the coat. Use an appropriate comb or brush that won’t scratch their skin.
Trimming your pet’s toenails gives you a chance to inspect their feet to make sure there are no hidden cuts or foreign objects, like small rocks or burrs, caught in between the paw pads. Outside cats can come home with small injuries to their feet you may not notice right away. Both cats and dogs can get splinters in their pads or cuts that can become infected over time. Pet grooming should always include an inspection of their feet whether the toenails need trimmed or not, to catch any problems before they require a trip to the vet. If you aren’t comfortable with trimming your pet’s toenails, most vets are happy to do it for you. When trimming nails at home, be careful not to cut into the quick. Trim as far as you’re comfortable with and then finish up with a nail file to smooth the rough edges. For more detailed information on trimming the nails, see How to Give your Pooch a Pedicure.
Bathing isn’t a part of pet grooming that’s necessary every time, especially for cats. Cats seldom need us to give them a bath, but on those rare occasions when one is needed, try to make it as positive as you can. (Read How to Bathe a Cat and Live to Tell About It for step-by-step directions). Outside cats require more baths because they roll around in all kinds of “stuff” and can get oily debris in their hair. Dogs, on the other hand, do need baths now and then. This is another opportunity to inspect their body as you work the shampoo into their coat.
Dental care is one area of pet grooming that’s often neglected by pet owners. It’s easy to forget about the inside of the mouth; however, it’s important to check their teeth and gums regularly for signs of gingivitis or other dental problems before they become serious.
Ear inspection is something my pets would rather I skipped, but it’s important to include their ears during each pet grooming session. Dogs with floppy ears or long hair have a problem with adequate air flow and air doesn’t circulate in the ear canal as well as it does in dogs with erect ears. Humidity can actually build up in their ears keeping them moist inside. If your floppy-eared dog loves to swim, make sure to dry the inside of the ears after he gets out of the water. They can have more buildup of dirt and crud as well, and are more at risk for ear infections than dogs with erect ears. Regular inspection of your pet’s ears can catch an ear mite infestation or yeast infection in the early stages.
Regular pet grooming allows us, as responsible pet owners, the opportunity of a hands-on inspection of our pets as well as helping to keep them clean. It’s time well spent, and is as healthy for us as it is for our pets.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
Dogs have a toenail located on the inside part of their front leg that’s called a dew claw. Most dog owners know where it’s located and remember to clip it at the same time the rest of the dog’s toenails are trimmed. If this nail is left untrimmed, it can cause pain and damage to the dog’s leg. Some dog breeds have dew claws on their back legs as well. What is the purpose of a dog’s dew claw, and why do some breeds have them on their back feet?
Because a dog’s dew claw is located up on his leg, when he walks through the grass in the morning before the dew has vanished, the claw skims along the top of the grass. And that’s how the dew claw got its name.
Not all dogs are born with dew claws, some only have the toenail on the front leg and other breeds have them on all four legs. Some breeds can have two dew claws on one or more legs. When a dog has a double claw on a leg, it’s called polydactyl. Some dog breeds are required to have back dew claws if they are being shown in the ring because it’s part of the standard for that breed.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.