When it comes to the general wellbeing of your pet, grooming plays a very important role. Pet grooming can be considered a luxury, when it’s really a necessity for pets; eyes clear of hair, clipped nails, a clean coat, healthy skin and clean teeth all contribute to a more comfortable and happier pet.
Importance of grooming your pets
Regular grooming helps your pet shed hair and dead skin, prevents matting, and spreads natural oils throughout the coat and skin. An unkept coat can cause discomfort for your pet, which in turn may result in behaviour issues such as aggression.
Taking your pet to a professional groomer will benefit you and your pet significantly. A professional groomer is exactly that, a professional. They will not only know exactly how to groom your specific breed but will know how to make the whole experience as stress free for your pet as possible. This is particularly the case for breed specific clips or long-haired cats that require grooming.
Grooming your pet incorrectly may cause more harm than you think, for example, double coated dogs shed a lot, so many pet parents shave them to reduce the ‘pet glitter’ around the house. Double coated dogs should not be shaved as their double coat serves an important purpose, instead they should be brushed regularly or have a de-molt/de-shed done by a professional groomer. It’s very important to research your pet’s breed and make sure they are groomed correctly.
Introducing your pet to grooming
If possible, start grooming your dog as a puppy (or your cat as a kitten). It is much easier to start grooming your pet when they are less energetic, so it is recommended to tire them out with a play session before hand. When first introducing your pet to grooming, limit the sessions to only a few minutes at a time, you don’t want to overwhelm them and turn the experience into a negative one. Start with a nice gentle massage, including their ears and toes as these areas are commonly groomed.
If you have an adult pet that has never been groomed before, taking them to a professional groomer is recommended; make sure you let the groomer know in advance that you have a first-timer so that they can prepare for them and ensure they have a positive first experience.
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Different types of dog coats
Short coated dogs - Shorted coated dogs have short hair that sits close to the body. Contrary to popular belief, these types of coats are often high shedding as the hair continually grows and sheds all year round.
Double coated dogs -Double coated dogs have a soft and thick undercoat that provides insulation, keeping them warm in winter and cool in summer, as well as a coarse and tough top coat which shields against moisture and dirt. Dogs with this type of coat often shed twice a year – losing their winter coat in preparation for summer, and the reverse before winter.
Long coated dogs - Long coated dogs have straight hair that, in some breeds, can grow all the way to the ground. These coats can very easily become matted, so daily brushing is high recommended. Long coats tend to shed seasonally.
Wire coated dogs - Wire coated dogs have coarse coats that are rough to the touch with a soft undercoat. These coats require a considerable amount of grooming outside of regular brushing. Wire coats do not shed naturally and require hand stripping.
Curly coated dogs - Curly coated dogs have hair in tight spirals, soft curls or waves that lie close to the body. These coats can easily matt and require regular brushing as well as regular haircuts from a professional groomer.
Hairless dogs – Hairless dogs usually have no hair at all or very fine hairs over their bodies, however they still require grooming. Hairless dog’s natural oils are more likely to build up on their skin as they shed their skin cells, so regular bathing is required. Their skin will also need protection from the sun by using a pet friendly SPF sunscreen.
Types of pet grooms and frequency of grooms
Nail clipping – Regular nail cutting is an essential part of your dog’s grooming regime to avoid pain when walking and ingrown nails. It is recommended to clip your dog’s nails every month or two, this can vary so keep an eye on your dog’s nail growth. Daily walks (ideally on a surface like the footpath) can help to keep nails at a reasonable length as the nails are naturally worn down. If you’re not confident in cutting your dog’s nails yourself, take your dog to a grooming salon or vet where they can do it for you.
Brush – Regular brushing prevents matting and tangles while spreading natural oils throughout the coat and skin. The amount of brushing required may depend on the coat of your dog but in general, aim for at least once a week.
Ear cleaning – It is recommended to clean your dog’s ears at least once a month. However, breeds with long and floppy ears may need to have their ears cleaned weekly as these dogs can be prone to ear infections. Do not stick anything down the ear canal and only clean the leather surrounding, check in with your vet if you think your dog may need a deeper ear clean.
Bath – A clean dog is a happy dog, but it is also important that you don’t wash them too often. It is recommended to wash your dog no more than once every 2 weeks to allow for their natural oils to develop. A good rule to remember is to wash your dog when you notice an obvious change in their coat’s condition. Make sure to consult with your vet if you have a particularly sensitive dog.
Tidy up – A tidy up is generally a groom done in-between full grooms every 4 weeks or for dogs that do not require full grooms at all and just need their hygiene areas and feet groomed with no length off their body.
De-molt aka de-shed – De-molts are typically done seasonally for short coated or double coated dogs. A de-molt will generally consist of a thorough brush-out to remove the dead undercoat then a blow-out with a high-pressure, pet friendly hair dryer.
Full clip – Long haired and curly coated dogs need frequent hair trims to prevent matting. Depending on how short you get the groom, you should get your dog groomed every six weeks to eight weeks to keep their coat in tip-top shape.
Hand Stripping – Hand stripping is the most effective grooming method for wired coated dogs and is usually required seasonally. This method should be done by a professional as it requires each hair to be pulled out by hand.
Diet and Grooming
Raw diets provide an excellent source of essential amino acids, fatty acids and live enzymes that benefit the skin and coat immensely. When your pet eats a raw diet, their skin may become less greasy, leading to a brighter, softer coat. Having a healthy coat and skin means less shedding and skin problems such as dandruff. Pets that are raw fed also tend to smell better and feel cleaner to the touch.
Raw diets contain many ingredients that support skin and coat health, one of the most notable and researched being omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy omega fats play a large role in supporting healthy skin and a soft coat as well as providing anti-inflammatory benefits, perfect for dogs with allergies or inflammatory skin diseases. Ingredients that provide essential omega-3 fatty acids can include salmon, chia seeds and flax seeds.
Good diet and regular grooming are key to healthy skin and coat, which will contribute to your pet’s health and wellbeing long-term. For pets experiencing skin issues, a natural diet combined with a probiotic may relieve their condition. You can read more about the health benefits of probiotics for dogs here or check this list of common allergens for dogs here.
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