Dog coat care

Bathing to keep good coat care

Coat care is a very important aspect of owning a dog, especially in animals used for show. Coats mould the appearance of the dog, and offer them protection and warmth, so it is important to keep them healthy and well groomed.

Brushing a dog

Brushing a dog can be a great bonding exercise. Done correctly, it should be a pleasant experience for the dog, and anything good that they associate with their owners will help to build that bond.

Why do we brush dogs’ coats?

It is important for hygiene and health to brush a dog’s coat and keep it clean and free from tangles.

When out and about, dogs will pick up detritus and form knots, tangles and mats in their coat.

These all need to be removed to keep the coat healthy, and this is achieved, in most cases, simply by brushing them out.

Brushing also gives you a chance to look over your dog’s skin and make sure everything is healthy. You can get up close and personal, and keep an eye out for rashes, abrasions, injuries, lumps, tics and fleas.

Brushing also helps to build a good relationship between the dog and their owner.

Dog grooming brushes

Before you can brush your dog, you need a brush! You can get many different types of brushes, most of which can be summed up by the three types below.

Whatever breed of dog you have, you may benefit from getting several types of brush to use for different types of grooming. You can also experiment and see what type of brush works best for you and your dog.

Wire-pin brushes:

  • Description
    Long, thin metal bristles, with or without rubber tips
  • Good for:
    Medium or long haired dogs, or those with curly or woolly coats
  • Dogs it could be useful for:
    Golden Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels

Bristle brushes:

  • Description:
    Variable bristle stiffness, variable bristle spacing
  • Good for:
    All coat types. The coarser the hair, the stiffer the bristles should be
  • Dogs it could be useful for:
    Terriers, Hounds

Slicker brushes:

  • Desription:
    Fine wire bristles
  • Good for:
    Removing mats and tangles
  • Dogs it could be useful for:
    Yorkies, Golden Retrievers, Collies

How to brush a dog

Although it may seem simple how to brush a dog (comb the brush through the fur), there are still some things you should consider.

It won’t take much for a dog to view brushing negatively and want to avoid it, so the happiness of the dog while brushing is very important. Just a few painful snags, or an uncomfortable position could put your dog off getting brushed for life!

Start gently, and carefully, and make sure that your dog is comfortable at all times. You could sweeten the deal with a treat before and after, your dog would love that!

Make sure you don’t dig the brush into the skin, and deal with any tangles with care so they aren’t ripped out.

Make sure you cover all areas (you may need a smaller, gentler brush for the face and ears) and don’t forget the tail, especially on bushy-tailed dogs, as these can pick up a lot of debris like burrs and twigs.

Hopefully your dog will have a good time (think of this as the dog version of a massage) and brushing remains easy, pleasant, and fun for both of you.

Bathing a dog

Dogs have a tendency to get dirty. They like to explore and scurry through undergrowth.

This means that dogs will need bathing!

The amount that a dog needs bathing changes, so use your judgement. If your dog is smelling between washes, maybe it needs to be washed more often.

Dog skin and human skin are different, so you need to make sure that you use specialised dog shampoo.

Massage the shampoo in, and rinse it out thoroughly, making sure not to get it in the eyes or ears of the dog, and not to leave any in the coat, as this could cause irritation.

Afterwards, towel off your dog and/or use a hair dryer to dry them out thoroughly. This will make sure they don’t get water around your house, and make sure they aren’t going to get ill.

Make sure not to scold or burn your dog with hot water or the hairdryer.

Other dog coat care

Some dog breeds don’t have a coat that grows or sheds much, others do. You should make sure you know what kind of coat you are going to be dedicating yourself to looking after when you get the dog.

You could ask the breeder about the mother’s coat and how much care that requires, and how much she sheds.

Brushing helps to remove hair, but so does a shedding blade (which despite the name does not cut hair). There are also stripping combs and knives too.

If your dog has constantly growing hair, it will need to be trimmed or clipped to keep it down. In some cases, this can be done by you at home, if not, then the dog will need periodical trips to a dog groomers.

Even if you do it at home by yourself, you should first seek the advice of a dog groomer and vet to make sure that you are doing it with the best technique, and in a way that won’t harm your dog.

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