How Often Should a Dog be Groomed

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Grooming isn’t just for the Poodles and Yorkies of the world. While small dogs with luxurious coats of hair and extravagant haircuts are generally what comes to mind when you think of grooming, in fact all dogs can benefit from a routine grooming program. How often your dog should be groomed depends on his breed, hair type, and activity level.

At it’s most basic level, grooming is the process of bathing the dog, trimming the coat, brushing out, clipping nails and generally cleaning and giving your dog a “spa day”. Grooming can be done at home or with a groomer, but it is important that your dogs various grooming needs be attended to on a regular basis.

Because coat care is only one part of the grooming process, even short hair dogs can greatly benefit from the occasional spa day. Short hair dogs may not require the extensive trimming or brushing that long hair dogs do, but they can still benefit from the other parts of the groom.

A Day Being Pampered

While each groomer and facility has a different regime they follow, most basic grooming consists of the following steps.

Brush out- before bathing or trimming, long hair dogs are brushed out, the undercoat carefully raked and dead hair thinned from the coat. Brushing has many health benefits to your dog. Regular brushing of all dogs, despite coat length or type, helps to keep the coat and skin healthy.  Brushing also works to distribute the natural oils of the skin throughout the coat, promoting a healthier coat, and cleaner skin.

While you may bathe your dog at home regularly, most groomers utilize a bathing system. These systems are specially made to allow water and shampoo to penetrate even the thickest coats of hair, evenly spreading shampoo throughout the coat. Special hoses and water nozzles “massage” the soap throughout the coat, getting the coat cleaner than any hand wash could. In addition, the bathing systems are much faster than traditional bathing, shortening the time your pet may spend stressed out in the tub.

If your dog has long hair, or is prone to tangles or a dry coat, a coat conditioner may be used as a second step to the bathing process. Conditioners can help to manage the hair and make it softer, allowing for mats and tangles to be more easily removed, along with re-moisturizing the coat. 

While in the bath, some groomers may take the opportunity to express your pets’ anal glands. The anal glands are two small sacks just inside your pets’ anus, and are filled with a foul smelling “scent fingerprint” that animals use to identify each other in the wild. Routine emptying of these sacs can help to prevent unwanted smells, as well as potential side effects from impacted or ruptured anal glands that go unemptied.

After bathing, a blower or dryer is used to dry the coat quickly and efficiently. The drying process also helps to further loosen up dead hair in the coat.

If your pet needs to be shaved or trimmed, once he is clean and dry, it’s time for the makeover! Depending on the breed of dog, and your preference, this can be anything from trimming a few hairs around the face and paws, to a complete shave down. Once trimming is complete, it’s time for another, more comprehensive brushing out. This is of special advantage to double-coated dogs, whose undercoat may continue to shed and as the process continues. A good, complete brushing at the groomers can make your brushing job at home much, much easier!

Long hair dogs tend to grow hair deep in the ear canal, and this hair can trap bacteria, causing irritation and ear infections. Your groomer will “pluck” this hair, and often do a cursory clean of the ears checking for anything abnormal. If ear discharge or redness is noticed, this can be relayed to you, so that you know that veterinary attention may be necessary to treat your dogs ear problem.

Finally, your groomer will clip your pets’ nails, and their skill and experience can often get them shorter than you can at home. A dremel tool may also be used, to help further shorten the nails, and blunt the edges to eliminate those sharp, newly cut nail scratches!

How often you should have your pet groomed depends on your dog, their coat type, and activity level. Longhaired dogs such as Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers and Maltese may require grooming as often as every other month, in order to maintain their coats. Cocker Spaniels and other dogs that routinely get cut back or shaved down may also need grooming this frequently. While thick coated dogs such as Collies and Shelties will not be getting shaved down while being groomed, they can greatly benefit from the special bathing systems, and comprehensive brushing they will receive, cutting down on shedding at home. Dogs that are active outdoors, and regularly pick up dirt, twigs and other natural things in their coats will obviously require more frequent grooming than their mostly indoor counterparts.

Short hair dogs, like Labradors, may only need a complete grooming once or twice a year. In between spa days, routine bathing at home may be all these need to stay clean and hygienic.

Whether done at home or with a groomer, a comprehensive grooming can be valuable in maintaining your dogs basic health and happiness.

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