For many pet owners, the animals in our life mean so much to us and it can be hard not to spoil them 24/7! While having a pet like a cat or a dog can usually mean a lot of cuddles and definitely a lot of love, these animals do need regular care to keep them happy, healthy, and clean! Each animal is going to need the same basic care (vet visits, grooming) but there are others who might need more intense grooming or medication. Here are some things you should be doing on a regular basis to keep your dog happy and healthy:
For dogs, there’s a lot more that goes into grooming than just the occasional bath and regular brushing. For one, some breeds will need to be brushed regularly while others will need to get a haircut instead. Dogs that are hypoallergenic (and generally okay for those with allergies) tend to be the ones who need haircuts instead of regular brushing.
For dogs that need to be brushed, your dog’s breed will also determine how often you should brush them! Short hair dogs (like labradors and greyhounds) don’t need frequent brushing but every few weeks should help remove any loose hair! With Rooster, we tend to do as little as possible (as getting brushed makes him anxious!) but he always loves to roll around in the grass after we’re done!
- How To Groom a Longhair Dog from WikiHow
Breeds that need to be brushed several times a month are ones with longhair, like collies and golden retrievers. Longhair dogs have high maintenance coats compared to other dogs because without regular brushing, their coats can get matted (which is uncomfortable and sometimes painful for the dog!) and they tend to shed a whole lot. Regular brushing can help decrease matting in their fur and keep the amount of shedding down.
There’s also dogs that have a double coat, which means they have two layers of fur. There’s the dense undercoat of short hair under a coat of longer hair (called guard hair). While it might seem counter-intuitive, these two coats work well for keeping the dog cool in hot weather and warm in the cold. The undercoat helps with temperature regulation and the top coat works to repel dirt and moisture. Breeds with double coats include akitas, newfoundlands, great pyrenees, pomeranian, golden retrievers, and more!
With double coated dogs, the key to keeping them cool in the summers and shedding less is actually to just brush them a couple times a week! Shaving them seems like a good idea in theory but in reality, their double coat acts like an insulation and works to keep them cool. A full shave takes away that insulation and can open them up to other issues, like sunburns.
- Truths and Myths About Shaving Dogs with Double Coats from FamilyPet
Cutting out mattes or a little trim is fine for dogs with any coat, especially since mattes in their fur can become a bigger problem. I personally do not recommend shaving your double coated dog but regular brushing can help prevent any problems, decrease the amount of hair they shed in the house, and keeps them pretty!
I have yet to meet a dog that likes getting a bath. Milo, for example, is especially perturbed by baths because he works hard for that stinky smell in his coat! But bathes can help keep your dog’s coat and skin clean, especially if they get particularly muddy or stinky. In reality, most dogs will only need a full, intense bath once or twice a year. Little clean ups throughout the year (like getting rinsed off after a muddy walk) can carry you through the year between full baths.
Dental health in dogs is very important and while many dogs have stinky breath, truly stinky breath can be an indication that something else is wrong. Taking care of your dog’s teeth can be one of the best ways to prevent any tooth or gum problems! This can be difficult depending on the dog but brushing their teeth regularly can help keep their mouths clean and healthy! Dog friendly toothpaste is the way to go, as there are things that dogs just aren’t able to digest like we are.
- Pet Dental Care from Animals of the Pacific Northwest
There are also treats and toys that help keep your dog’s teeth clean. Treat like carrots or apples don’t get stuck between their teeth and chew toys can help to clean teeth! Milo, for example, loves to chew on every single stick he can find and doing so has kept his teeth clean and strong!
All of this doesn’t take puppies and their dental health into consideration, as dogs aren’t born with teeth and puppies tend to chew a whole lot while teething. The good news is that while puppies tend to chew because it feels good, there are ways you can save your favorite pair of shoes and work on training your puppy (something that will be important for more than just curbing chewing tendencies!). Here are some resources to start with but working with a trainer and doing more reading will only help!
- Puppy Teething Timeline: What to Expect by Amy Shojai, The Spruce Pets
- Stop Puppy Chewing by Amy Shojai, The Spruce Pets
- Stop Puppy Biting by Amy Shojai, The Spruce Pets
Some dogs are able to keep their nails relative short if they walk on pavement regularly. But all dogs will need regular nail trimming because long nails can cause all sorts of problems like accidentally getting snagged on something and causing injury or even contributing to bad posture.
While nail trimming can be a terrifying venture for both dogs and people alike, there are ways to make the process easier if you decide to do it yourself. There are some dog grooming places that will also trim your dog’s nails if you need help but if you’re going alone, the best place to start is by getting everything ready.
The first step is to familiarize yourself with how to best cut the nails because if you cut too short, you can hurt the dog. There are numerous how to guides and videos online to help that also include the anatomy of a dog’s paw and nail. It can also help to familiarize your dog with the nail clippers so they understand that what you’re about to do is okay. The American Kennel Club has a how to guide that includes how to get your dog comfortable with getting nails trimmed!
The next step is to get everything together before getting your dog. This includes the nail trimmers, treats, hand or paper towels, and corn starch. The towels and corn starch are in case you do accidentally cut the quick of the nail and the nail starts to bleed. Corn starch on the nail can help stop the bleeding!
Finally, bring the dog over and start trimming. If your dog is very scared, it can help to have treats and/or another person. But if your dog is scared beyond reason and starting to bite (or you just can’t do it alone), it might be best to involve professionals in this process to limit the potential injuries to you and your dog. Many vet hospitals and grooming places are able to help with nail trimming!
All of these things are just some of the regular care that dogs need, as they also need enrichment/exercise, training, food, vet visits, and a whole lot of love! It seems overwhelming but while you’ll need to do things like nail trims, baths, and brushing on a regular basis, you don’t usually have to do all of them every single day. Sometimes, doing a little bit of grooming every day or every few days can really make a difference!