Now's a good time to groom your dog

N.H. Sunday News - Dog Tracks Column - 7/4/10
By: Gail T. Fisher


When I found myself slogging through a pile of hair the other day, I realized it was past time to groom my dogs. Because of his long hair, Cannon, our Beardie, requires regular brushing and grooming. But even being brushed on a regular basis, he was shedding his undercoat which was making some serious mats on a nearly daily basis. Our other dog, Kochi, has short hair, but even he has undercoat that was visibly shedding—making him appear to be molting in clumps.

There are a number of different coat types, each having different grooming requirements. The easiest to care for are smooth-coats without undercoat such as Doberman Pinschers, Vizslas, and smooth Dachshunds. Then there are short-haired dogs such as Kochi, who do shed soft, fluffy undercoat several times a year. This group also includes Labrador Retrievers, a breed that has more hair follicles per square inch than any other. Owners of Labs are not surprised to learn that fact. German Shepherds are another breed known to be a reasonably heavy shedder. But there are some relatively new products and tools on the market that can help greatly reduce shedding.

One that has worked very well for Kochi, and that I have recommended to friends and clients with heavily shedding dogs, is a professional treatment called “Furminator.” The de-shedding tool is available for purchase, and you may have seen the infomercials for it. I have one that I use on Kochi. Using it carefully and gently, it does help. But the best results are achieved with the de-shedding shampoo and crème rinse. A friend with a Lab challenged my guarantee to him that he wouldn’t see any shedding for multiple weeks after a treatment. His weekly emails reported his dog’s lack of shedding continued for about six weeks. I don’t know if his dog started shedding at that point, or if he just got tired of reporting.

The next coat type is what you find on the Northern breeds like Siberian huskies and Samoyeds. These dogs have a longer, harsh outer coat, with a soft, fluffy undercoat that needs to be well-combed out during shedding season. Then there are dogs with combination coats such as Golden retrievers and Setters – flowing coats at the backs of their legs and tail, and short coats on the fronts of their legs and face. These dogs need regular brushing, and some professional trimming to look their best.

Then there are dogs with long flowing coats on their entire body—dogs like my Beardie, Shih Tzus, Yorkshire terriers, and the like. These dogs require regular brushing down to the skin to prevent painful mats. Alternatively, many owners have these dogs trimmed regularly to keep their coats short and manageable.

And finally are the breeds that require regular professional grooming, such as poodles, Portuguese water dogs, cocker spaniels and the like. Without regular trimming and brushing these dogs’ coats will tangle and mat, causing discomfort and, if not removed, can cause skin sores and infections. Just as importantly, dogs with longer coats need to have the hair between their foot pads shaved out and trimmed periodically or it causes painful mats, probably feeling as if your dog is walking on rocks all the time.

If you bathe your dog yourself, you must thoroughly brush out any mats and tangles all the way to his skin before you get him wet. Without doing so, the mats will solidify as the coat dries. The likely result is that your dog will then need to be shaved to the skin.

This is a great time of year to give your dog a good bath and grooming, or schedule your dog for a healthy, healthful bath and grooming with a local groomer in your area – one you trust to treat your dog gently and kindly.

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