Summer is often the most active time of the year, and that goes for our dogs, too. Most dogs spend much more time outside during the warmer months, hiking, swimming and playing happily in the mud.
While this is all great fun, it can mean that taking care of their grooming and hygiene needs to be stepped up a notch – not to mention that we must take measures to help keep them hydrated and cool in hot weather.
Many dogs aren’t thrilled about grooming, but done right and with regularity, it can be a great time for bonding with your pet and creating more trust between you. Here are some summer grooming tips for keeping your pooch cool.
Brush regularly for great coat condition
Brushing should form a regular part of your dog’s grooming, especially if they have a thick coat. A dog’s coat cannot function optimally to help regulate their body temperature if it is full of thick, matted sections. Matted hair can also lead to increased moisture trapped between the coat and the skin, leading to infections and other skin conditions.
By regularly brushing your dog’s coat, you minimize shedding and keep their skin and coat as healthy as possible while minimizing any unnecessary overheating.
Make sure you choose the right brush when grooming your dog. For double-coated dogs, such as labradors and huskies, you’ll need to use a brush with a wider bristle pattern, while single-coated dogs, such as Jack Russels and Maltese breeds, a tighter pin brush is ideal.
Trim, but do not shave
It might seem like common sense to shave your dog’s coat off during the summer months, but don’t. Many owners mistakenly believe that it will help their dog to stay cooler in hot weather, but the expert consensus among veterinarians is that it has the opposite effect. Your dog has evolved to have a coat that best insulates it from the elements, and insulation can be from heat as well as cold; in other words, your dog’s coat can help to keep the heat out from their body (as well as the cold in winter months).
Additionally, shaving your dog’s coat particularly short in the summer puts them at a real risk for suffering sunburn and heatstroke.
That’s not to say that a nice trim isn’t a good idea. So long as you keep their coat to a minimum of around an inch long, trimming your dog’s coat can help keep it manageable and free from matted sections.
As with other grooming rituals, many dogs don’t favor bathtime, but it is necessary to keep them hygienically clean. That said, there is no need to bathe your dog more than once a month, unless they get particularly dirty in the meantime.
During the summer, fleas and ticks can be particularly problematic, so grooming and bathing is a great opportunity to give them a check over as you go. Be sure to use good quality dog flea shampoos (shampoo made for humans is not suitable for animals, as it can strip their skin and coats of the natural oils they need to stay healthy).
Give them a good brush before and after to get them as clean and tidy as possible, and make sure that you thoroughly rinse out any products to avoid causing any skin irritations.
Don’t forget the ears
WIth so much more swimming in summer, it’s particularly important to make sure that you dry your dog’s ears out after being in the water. Water left in the ears can result in a nasty ear infection, so when you wipe them down, including the inside of their ears – just a cotton ball or towel will suffice, anything smaller such as a cotton bud (q-tip) can damage their eardrum.
When grooming for summer, the most important thing to do is maintain a healthy, mat-free coat and avoid shaving it off. Other than that, be sure to consider other aspects such as always making sure they have access to fresh, clean water, and a shaded spot to rest in. If the area you live in gets particularly hot, consider leaving them inside in an airconditioned room when you are out.