By Sari Reis
Just like us, dogs need to be bathed. Depending on the type of fur or hair they have, activities they engage in, their skin condition and general health, their bathing frequency will vary. However, regardless of these variances, it is important to establish a routine bathing schedule.
Many dog parents are quite skillful at bathing their dogs themselves, while others like to take their pooch to the groomers for a professional bath and trim.
Some breeds, such as Maltese, Bichons and other long-haired breeds, have special grooming needs. Maintaining their healthy coats takes time and patience. If not brushed daily, they can develop mats, which are not only uncomely but can become a serious health problem.
The tangling of fur causes mats. When shedding, the dead fur can often get tangled in the living fur and if not brushed out daily, can become embedded in a large mass. These mats can form in both the inner and outer coat of some breeds and have very serious consequences. The skin beneath the matt can get caught up in the fur causing the dog a great deal of pain. Their flesh can become irritated and inflamed, and then ulcers can develop. If the circulation to the skin is cut off, the skin can become necrotic. Insects will often lay eggs under the mat due to the warm, moist and dirty conditions.
Matting is such a serious and painful condition for a dog that some states, Florida being one, have made it a misdemeanor under the animal cruelty act if an owner allows the dog to become severely matted.
Although taking scissors to cut out a matt may seem like the logical course of action, the risk of cutting the skin is very high and not a good remedy. In most cases, the matt needs to be shaved or carefully combed out. A veterinarian or a professional groomer ideally should perform this procedure. To prevent this situation from happening, be sure to brush your long-haired, furry kid daily, even if they aren’t fond of being brushed.
Keeping your dog well-groomed also includes cleaning his ears and around his eyes, trimming his nails, and brushing his teeth on a regular basis. Starting your dog off on the right paw when he is a puppy is the easiest way to make grooming a pleasurable experience for all.
If you adopted your dog as an adult, it may take some time to get him comfortable with the grooming requirements. Go slowly, be patient and give the dog lots of praise and rewards for cooperating. Don’t push the dog past his tolerance level. If you can only brush him for a few minutes at a time, break the brushing into several sessions. Use only veterinary approved products for bathing your dog as well as cleaning the ears and brushing their teeth.
Proper hygiene is absolutely essential to the overall well-being of your dog; whether he is young or old, long-haired or short-haired, purebred or mutt, show him your love by taking good care of his grooming needs regularly.
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting services. For more information you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.