Maintaining a regular summer grooming routine for your dog can help keep them feeling cool and comfortable. Learn whether or not you should shave or cut your dog’s coat, how often to bathe them, what kind of canine shampoo to use and more with these helpful dog grooming tips.
Summertime comes with a few guarantees, including hotter temperatures and more time spent outdoors. Enjoying summer activities like picnics, sporting events, beach vacations and hiking trips can be fun, but also hot and messy, especially for dogs. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do as a pet parent to keep your dog cool, clean and healthy this summer.
When summer rolls around and the weather gets hot, most of us wear fewer layers of clothing as a way to keep cool. Do you ever wonder if the same principle applies to your dog’s coat? Does less fur equal a cooler pup? Not necessarily. You may think that shaving your dog will help keep them cool during the hot summer months, but doing so can actually be harmful.
Your dog’s coat has several layers of fur and acts as insulation, similar to a house’s insulation. This helps keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Shaving your dog’s coat in the summer robs them of the protection their fur provides, and it can increase their risk of sunburn, as well as make their skin more vulnerable to cuts and scrapes.
Trimming a dog’s hair – especially for dog breeds with long, thick or heavy coats – is acceptable. Keep in mind that it may be best to take your dog to a professional groomer for their “summer cut,” particularly if your dog is nervous or skittish. Because dogs aren’t the best at keeping still, it’s very easy to accidentally cut or injure them while trimming or clipping their hair.
Brushing is one of the best things you can do for your dog during the summer heat. Regular brushing helps to remove your dog’s undercoat and dead skin cells, which allows for increased airflow to your dog’s skin, which helps keep them cool. Brushing can also help prevent hair from matting together and causing skin infections by trapping in body heat and moisture.
Bonus: Brushing your dog on a regular basis can help you track their overall health. Your dog’s skin and coat are great indicators of how your dog is feeling and what they need. For example, a dull coat may be a sign your dog isn’t getting necessary nutrients from their diet. A full, shiny coat and clear, supple skin indicates that your dog is healthy and feeling well. On the other hand, unusual bumps, lumps or areas of sensitivity on your dog’s skin may be signs of a medical condition requiring veterinary attention.
How often you give your dog a bath depends on their breed and coat type. Generally, it’s a good idea to bathe them when they get dirty or develop a smelly odor. Keeping your dog’s coat clean will also help keep them cool in summer. Dirt, twigs or other debris from summer excursions can collect in your dog’s fur, especially if your dog has a long coat. This not only decreases airflow to the skin but can cause irritation if not removed.
Bathe your dog using lukewarm water and a dog-safe shampoo and conditioner. Human shampoos, even those gentle enough for babies and children, are too harsh for your dog’s skin, which has a different pH and thickness than human skin. If your dog has sensitive skin, you may want to ask your veterinarian about specialized cleaning products that won’t cause irritation.
As you bathe your dog, take care to shield their eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Thoroughly rinse shampoo and conditioner from your dog and proceed to dry them with a towel. Using a hair dryer can help if needed, but be careful not to burn your dog by using too high a heat setting or getting too close to their skin.
Examining your dog for fleas and ticks should be a regular part of their grooming routine. This is especially important during the summer months. Because your dog is likely spending more time outside, their chances of contracting these parasites are greater than during the winter months.
Don’t forget to use preventive flea and tick medication all-year round. You will also want to avoid bathing your dog for 48 hours after applying the treatment as it can reduce its effectiveness.
Does your dog enjoy swimming in the summer? Wet ears increase their chance of developing an ear infection, so be sure to check their ears regularly. Gently cleaning your dog’s ears with a mild, pet-safe cleanser can help reduce wax buildup and prevent infection. Ask your veterinarian about the different types of ear cleaners for dogs.
Overgrown nails can be painful for dogs, especially if they become so long that they chip, split or break off. Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed can make summer outings much more enjoyable. You should trim your dog’s nails approximately every one to two weeks. If you trim your dog’s nails, take care not to cut them to the quick as this can cause bleeding and pain. If you’re unsure about how to trim your dog’s nails, consult a professional groomer or your veterinarian.
While grooming your dog does require time and attention, doing so will keep them happier and healthier so both of you can fully enjoy summer together.