You know that the dog days of summer are approaching when your “fur kids” start showing signs of discomfort in the heat. Panting and lethargy are both signs that dogs are overheated, and this can quickly turn into a serious medical problem.
Although the most important step in keeping your dogs cool this summer is to keep them hydrated and out of the sun, proper dog grooming also plays a role in keeping dogs comfortable during the summer. Plus, not only does grooming help keep pets cool, but it also removes allergens and pests that can cause discomfort to you and your dogs.
This summer, try these tips for keeping your dog clean and happy.
Think twice before shearing your dog’s coat.
When you see your dog panting in the hot weather, it’s tempting to consider shearing her coat in order to help her cool off. But is that really the best way to keep your dog cool? Many experts actually advise against shearing a dog’s coat in the summer, especially for breeds that grow double coats. A clean coat can actually help protect a dog against summer heat, especially if the coat is kept clean and detangled. Before shearing your dog’s coat, it’s a good idea to research your dog’s breed and ask your vet or groomer about whether shearing could be a good option for your dog. If you’re really set on the idea of shaving some of that fur off, consider the less drastic option of just shaving your dog’s tummy. A shaved tummy will hardly show, so your dog’s appearance will remain substantially the same as their regular look. (Dogs that get completely shaved often end up looking like completely different animals.) The advantage of having a shaved tummy is that your pup can then lay down on a cool tile floor or in cool grass and feel the coolness on their belly. This helps them feel cooler without a dramatic change in their looks.
Brush your dog regularly to remove excess fur.
In addition to helping keep your house clean, brushing out excess hair is a great way to help keep your dog from overheating. Many dogs naturally shed in the summer in order to maintain a lighter coat during the warmer months, which means that brushing is essential unless you want your house to be covered in fur. If shedding is out of control, be sure to contact us about FURminator de-shedding treatments. It can be done once or twice to work through a peak time of shedding, or if your dog is a year-round fur-flinger, incorporate a de-shedding session into their regular grooming routine and you can reduce shedding by 60-80%.
Check often for ticks and fleas.
Whenever you’re grooming your dog, make sure to pay attention for any signs of ticks of fleas. Even if your dog rarely spends time in parks, on nature trails, or running loose in your yard, it’s still possible for her to attract these unwanted pests. Nocturnal visitors passing through your yard (racoons, mice, etc) can drop off little visitors that find their way onto your pet. It happens. It’s important to be particularly careful about removing ticks, since simply tugging on a tick isn’t sufficient to remove the entire organism. Once the tick is removed, be sure to monitor the bite area for any signs of infection.
Bathe with a gentle soap.
Your dog is more likely to attract dirt and allergens during the summer months. Aside from keeping your dog clean for cosmetic purposes, if allergies are an issue, it’s important to wash your dog’s fur in order to keep allergy symptoms to a minimum for both you and your pet. When washing your dog, be careful to use a shampoo formulated for pets, and preferably one that is all natural. Using human shampoos on dogs can lead to uncomfortable, itchy skin, especially if washing frequently.
Pay special attention to your dog’s ears and paws.
It’s easy to forget about ears and paws, but keeping them clean is an important part of a healthy grooming routine. Remember that paved surfaces can be hot and drying and a little extra paw pad conditioner helps keep puppy toes happy.
You can swipe out inside their ears with a cotton ball to keep them clean, and when you’re doing that, watch out for signs of ear infections, which have symptoms such as itchiness, redness, or tenderness. If your dog swims or bathes frequently, let them shake the water out of their ears afterwards, and even possibly check with your vet about using a drying agent, especially if your dog has floppy ears or know ear issues.
Early summer is also a good time to check your dog’s nails to make sure that they didn’t become overgrown during the winter months. Also, be sure to look out for burrs or other debris that may become lodged between the pads of the feet. These cause discomfort and are often difficult for dogs to remove on their own.