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  • Writer's pictureBear & Kind

Top 7 Summer Dog Grooming Tips

It’s that time of year again… for most dog Mums like me summer equals bush walks, doggy playdates, afternoon dips in the dam and lazy days at the beach. Unfortunately, summer also means bindies and grass seeds, fleas and ticks, swimmer’s ear and hair everywhere. It’s enough to drive you crazy, especially if you own a long-haired breed.

For the final instalment in our grooming blog series, Lydia Scarpari (@Organix Dog Spa) and I decided to help you out with our top 7 essential grooming tips for your dog this summer.

1. Bathing

For those of us with water dogs, it can be tempting to skip baths in the summer months after a day at the beach. The ocean is full of salt & minerals which can be great for skin conditions in people and animals, but it can also be very drying. Dogs will usually collect sand and other debris in their coat and paws as well. Always rinse your dog in fresh water and give him a brush as a bare minimum. You can use a conditioning spray or coat moisturiser if the coat feels dry. When you do shampoo your dog just make sure you use a product that is formulated for dogs, preferably without harsh chemicals and irritants. Always read the ingredients label. If you can’t pronounce or identify the ingredients, or there are none provided, give it a miss.

2. Ears

Particularly if you have a floppy eared breed, you should be checking inside the ears at least once a week. Hairy, floppy ears usually lead to poor air flow, which can trap heat and moisture… the perfect environment for yeast and bacteria to grow. Keep hair around the inside of the ear as short as possible and always make sure ears are dry after bathing or swimming (try popping a cotton ball in each ear during a bath to help keep the ears dry). It’s also a good idea to keep some apple cider vinegar in the cupboard. Mix a 50/50 dilution with fresh warm water and using a cotton ball or makeup pad, gently wipe around the ear (do NOT place anything into the ear canal). If the ear appears pink or inflamed, you can replace water with chamomile or green tea. If your dog continues to scratch and shake his head you may have a foreign body inside the ear canal (grass seeds are common in warmer weather). If you cannot easily spot and safely remove it yourself always consult your vet.

3. Clipping

If I had a dollar for every time someone said that they needed to have their dog clipped short for the summer, I would be very well off. A longer coat does not make a dog feel hotter in summer, nor does it stop shedding. Shaving a double-coated breed removes the natural insulation their coat provides and leaves them vulnerable to not only heat but sun exposure. Your dog will still shed his winter coat anyway, just in shorter pieces. Your best bet is to grab your brush. Gently helping him shed dead coat will keep him cooler and his coat healthier. Just be careful not to brush too much as you risk removing healthy coat and damaging the skin. If you have an older dog or your pup simply runs hot, try shaving a landing strip on his underbelly. This will help him lower his body temperature faster when he lays on a cool surface like floor tiles or a cooling mat or hops into a paddling pool. Leaving the healthy coat on top will help to protect him from both heat and sun exposure. If your dog’s hair is really long and you can’t stay on top of it at home, a shorter length is absolutely fine… it will be more manageable for you while still protecting your dog in the heat.

4. Brushing

I constantly tell dog owners about the importance of brushing your dog and I promise it is with good reason. Brushing your dog has many benefits and they’re not all cosmetic.

· Aids in blood circulation

· Removes dead undercoat

· Removes knots & tangles

· Distributes natural coat oils

· Just generally feels good 😛

It’s also a really good opportunity to check for things like grass seeds and bindies. The nasty spiky knotty things can make a mess of your dog’s coat very quickly, cause irritation to the skin, and can lead to infection. Grass seeds are particularly nasty as they can quickly burrow under the skin and travel through the body with astonishing speed. Make sure you check your dog thoroughly after each walk and keep feet trimmed short to reduce the number of them being tracked indoors.

5. Fleas and Ticks

Nasty bitey things are always an issue in summer but are especially bad this year. Due to widespread flooding in Australia in recent months there seem to be way more bugs around than ever plus a serious shortage of antiserum used to combat Paralysis tick poisoning. While there are a number of flea and tick prevention products available on the Australian market, there are also significant side effects associated with their use in both cats and dogs. If you live in a coastal or bush area, I recommend keeping a bottle of neem or eucalyptus oils at home. If you are not already using a flea shampoo, simply add a few drops of neem or eucalyptus oils to your shampoo when washing your dog. Both oils are great for repelling fleas and ticks as well as killing flea eggs but need a little time for adult parasites. If your dog will permit it, leave your shampoo on for up to 10 minutes before rinsing clean. Another great option is using a spray, oil or balm on the coat before going outside to discourage fleas and ticks from hitching a ride home.

6. Sun Protection

If you have a dog with a pale coat and pink skin, or a pink nose, you need to consider sun protection. While you can generally keep them under cover or in the shade at home, it’s a different story when you are out for a walk. If you have a pale dog who likes to sunbake belly up you’re really in trouble. Thankfully you have a few options here. A rashie or cotton dog t-shirt can offer UV protection for the torso but doesn’t do much for the head and face. Your best bet is a good quality sunscreen. Do NOT use human sunscreen on your dog! Sunscreens designed for people contain ingredients that are safe for us but toxic to dogs. Never put zinc on your dog and be cautious with anything containing titanium dioxide as well. It can be toxic if ingested so not something you want your dog to lick. Look for a product formulated for dogs using natural ingredients that you can pronounce. Not all products will be water resistant so if your dog is swimming, apply every two hours.

7. Paw Care

Doggy paws are a bit like magnets… they tend to pick up a bit of everything they come into contact with and walk it straight into your home. Always check paws after your pup has been for a walk… giving them a quick wash or a wipe is a good idea… especially during allergy season if your dog gets itchy paws. You will want to check for bindies and grass seeds as well, especially if you have a pooch with hairy paws. Keep the hair on his paws and between the toes as short as you can… if you are going to the groomer as them for a poodle clip on his paws (all hair is shaved from the paws and between pads). If his paws are itchy or sore try a soak in water with a splash of apple cider vinegar.

And finally... on really hot days, always test the ground temperature with the back of your hand before going on a walk… if it feels too hot for you then it’s definitely too hot for sensitive paws. Invest in some doggy boots to protect his paws or wait for a cooler time of day. It's always a good idea to have some paw balm on hand to soothe and moisturise cracked or sore paw pads.

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