To keep your dog’s coat in tip-top condition, regular combing and brushing is essential.
Not only does this help keep your dog’s coat healthy and tangle-free, at-home grooming can also be a brilliant way to relax and bond with your pet.
Typically, your dog will have their coat brushed professionally every time they visit the dog groomers’ salon.
But for those times when your pooch is between grooms and their fur is looking a little straggly, here’s some advice around at-home grooming from our resident ITCH vet, Zoe Costigan.
How often should I be brushing my dog at home?
Every dog breed is different, and how often they require grooming will largely depend on their coat-type.
Any long-coated breeds, like Shih-Tzhus, Spaniels or Westies, or double-coated breeds like German Shepherds or Golden Retrievers will be the most high-maintenance.
You can get away with leaving a little bit longer between brushes for shorter-haired breeds, but for the long/thick coated breeds mentioned above you ideally need to be aiming to brush your dog for at least 10 minutes a day.
If you can’t commit to brushing your dog daily, then a few times a week for up to 40 minutes at a time is ideal.
What’s the best way to brush my dog’s coat?
In order to remove dead hair, the best way to brush and comb your dog’s coat is in layers, with particular attention being paid to the problem areas.
Problem areas can be:
- The ears
- Behind the ears
- The beard
- The muzzle
- The chest
- The belly
- The inside of their legs
It’s recommended that after you’ve brushed through the coat, you also give them a comb through the fur to get rid of any knots.
How do I comb my dog’s hair?
To comb your dog’s hair, you need to part the fur at the root, hold it down and comb away from the parting.
If you find areas that are tangled, and you are struggling to get through, try using a detangling spray first.
After applying some of this spray, you can use the fine end of your comb for the delicate areas such as around the eyes or the beard.
It goes without saying, but try not to pull!
What combs and brushes might I need? Can I just use a human brush?
The best brush to use for your dog depends largely on their coat type.
There are many types of brushes suitable for all kinds of different breeds, but a good ‘all-rounder’ is a pin-headed brush. This will work for most coat types and dog breeds.
When it comes to combs, any comb that you use on your dog must be made from metal.
Fine and medium-tooth combs are ideal for those longer-coated breeds with finer hair; whereas double-coated or curly-coated breeds will need a medium, wide-tooth comb.
We would also recommend for your double-coated breeds that you use a rake or a fur-minator, as this strips out the dead undercoat while leaving the upper coat intact.
Finally, you may want to use a slicker brush.
These are used to fluff up the fur of your curly-coated breeds whilst drying them.
However, with slicker brushes, it’s important to remember to take care not to get too close to the skin, as you might accidentally end up scratching your dog.
Do I need to bath my dog?
Unless you’ve been advised for medical reasons, you really should not be bathing your dog too regularly.
We would advise that for any longer coated breeds (such as Spaniels) you bathe them every 10-12 weeks.
For curly-coated, doodle-y type dogs every 6-8 weeks will be plenty. It can be quite detrimental and drying to the coat and skin to wash them more frequently than this.
Instead of bathing your dog too frequently, instead try and put aside a bit of time each day to pay attention to their problem areas (eyes, ears and bum!).
To keep these areas clean, use some damp cotton wool or specialist pet wipes to give them a good clean.
If you have been experiencing some wet weather whilst out on your daily walks, you’ll also need to dry off your dog’s feet and give them a brush through once they’re dry.
What are the ‘Do’s’ of home-grooming my dog?
- Do brush and comb your dog daily, and pay particular attention to the problem areas that we have discussed.
- You must brush and comb your dogs completely before putting them in the bath.
- We recommend that you start grooming your puppies from about 8 weeks of age. Train them to accept grooming like any other form of training.
- You should also get your dogs used to having their paws touched. This will help not only with grooming, but also with any future nail clips.
And what are the ‘Don’ts’ of home grooming?
- Try to resist the temptation to just give your dog a bath once a week instead of brushing them. This is just going to create matts.
- Do not ignore your puppy’s coat, or leave it until it’s a year old to suddenly start grooming. Try and get them used to the feel of brushes and incorporate a regular grooming routine from an early age.
Finally, please do not try brushing out a dog with severe matts. This is cruel and painful, and in this instance, your dog will need shaving.
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