When it comes caring for your dog’s coat properly there are quite a few steps that many people miss. Keeping your pup’s fur well maintained can prevent health issues as well as help keep your house clean and doggy-smell free. We’ve got you covered with some insider tips on keeping your dog’s hair healthy. We hope to keep this guide up to date and comprehensive, so if you have additional tips or feedback you’d like to add please contact us!
While brushing your dog is sometimes viewed as a non-essential task, it’s benefits are largely overlooked. Let’s start with the issue that many dog owners deal with - becoming a human lint roller every time you sit on the couch! Regular brushing helps to remove loose hair from your dog’s coat which can have huge impact on keeping your house and furniture clean. Aside from the de-shedding benefits though, brushing can help distribute natural oils throughout the coat to keep the fur looking shiny and healthy.
On a more serious note, often times brushing is the best way to find more harmful health issues such as ticks, fleas, lumps, and cuts. If you happen to find any of these issues contact your vet to find the best treatment for your pal.
The single most important step to brushing your dog is making them feel safe and comfortable. If your dog is over anxious while brushing it can actually cause them to lose additional hair, making your job harder… and your furniture hairier. Start by gently brushing the fur down, out and away from the skin- this helps remove loose hair and dirt. Brush in sections ensuring that all tangles are removed before moving on to the next area. If you run into a tangle be gentle and patient. Remember, jerking or forcing the tangle can be painful for your dog and make the tangle worse.
Occasionally offer your dog a treat and light praise for holding still so that they feel comfortable with future brushings. When you have brushed your dog, including tail and feet, use a soft brush to remove any remaining surface hair or dander. Using a conditioning or detangling spray at this point and brushing it through the coat can be a great way to make the coat shine and remove any odor.
Special notes on fur types:
Short Hair Dogs - Use a rubber brush- this will help bring loose dirt and dander to the top for removal.
Long Hair Dogs - Use a pin brush - this will help get a better grip on the undercoat to loosen tangles without causing pain. The tangles and balls of fur can be a real challenge and very time consuming. Make a regular and consistent schedule to brush your dog. Brushing more frequently can make the subsequent brushings much less time consuming. Note of caution though, there is such a thing as brushing too often. Gauge the need of your dog and watch for skin irritation. For extremely matted hair you might need to cut away the matted portion since brushing might be out of the question.
Key Tips for Dog Brushing:
- Make a schedule for brushing, this helps prevent major build up of mats or tangles
- Use detangling spray
- Keep treats on hand and praise your dog regularly
- Check for skin irritations and contact your vet with any concerns
Washing / Bathing
We strongly recommend brushing your dog before washing. This is because matted and tangled hair can retain water after the bath which in turn can cause skin irritation.
Once your dog is all brushed out and mat free it’s time to begin! Now, just like brushing, washing your dog can cause a bit of anxiety for some pups. So, keep a few treats on hand and use a calm reassuring voice as your coax your dog into the tub. Throughout the process pause occasionally to scratch their neck and give them small praise to let them know everything is ok. This will make future baths much more enjoyable for both of you!
Begin washing from the neck down, we’ll clean their face and eyes later. Use your fingers or a rubber scrub to work up a good lather. Be sure to avoid scrubbing too harshly though as this also can cause skin irritation. Once you’ve washed all of their fur from the neck down you can then rinse. Use a comfortable, lukewarm temperature and avoid getting water in their eyes, nose, mouth, or ears. This is mainly to keep your dog calm during whole process. Very thoroughly check to make sure all shampoo has been rinsed away as left over shampoo may cause…. You guessed it, skin irritation.
Now to clean your pups face. This is where most dogs would likely complain or be uncomfortable. However, with the right approach this can become a pain free routine. Use a damp soft washcloth or microfiber towel with a very small amount of shampoo. Gently wipe away any tear stains around their eyes, or grunge around their nose. When it comes to their head and ears it’s ok to use a bit more shampoo, but remember to be gentle. When your dog jerks their head or tries to pull away be sure to correct them, but maintain patience and a calm voice once you’ve recommenced washing.
As with brushing, if you notice any abnormal skin issues such as bumps or cuts during their wash, consult with your vet.
How often to wash
Frequency of bathing will vary greatly between dogs and your lifestyle. It is important to remember however that dogs release very important oils into their fur which keeps their coat and skin healthy. On the other hand if you don’t wash your dog enough then you’ll miss the opportunity to look for skin conditions and also make for a stinky pup! Find a happy balance that works for your lifestyle and keeps your pup’s coat healthy and shiny. For most dogs, bathing once per month is sufficient. However, if you are an avid hiker, or spend a lot of time outdoors then more frequently might be necessary. If you use traditional dog shampoo regularly you might notice dry flaky skin, itchiness, or a dull coat. Our all natural dog shampoo is very gentle and contains added conditioners and oils to soothe the skin and fur regardless of how often you wash.
Some breed traits might help you understand where to start with frequency. For example:
- Oily coats - Basset Hounds for example may need to increase frequency up to once per week.
- Short hair - Boxers, beagles, and others have short smooth coats which may require less frequent baths
- Water Repellant Coats - some types of dogs commonly used for hunting should be bathed even less frequently to help retain their naturally water-repellant oils.
- Thick, Double Coats - Breeds with thick double coats such as Malamutes, Samoyeds, and others tend to do best when they are washed less and brushed more.
Once you’ve washed and dried your pup, proper maintenance can help minimize odors and help retain a healthy shiny coat. Use a conditioning spray or detangling spray when brushing to help prevent tangles and mats. We also recommend keeping an eye on their snout and paw health to make sure they don't get too dry or crack. Our all-natural paw and snout balms are a great way to keep on top of these problem areas.
If odor becomes an issue, but it’s not yet time for a bath consider using an all natural doggy cologne. Just a few light sprays can make your dog much more bearable to be around. For dogs with a particularly persistent odor, you might want to use an all natural dry shampoo. This can be a great solution to keep your dog smelling great between baths. Simply sprinkle a little over their coat (preferably outside, or in the tub), massage into the fur, then use a dry rag or brush to remove the excess. If your dog is particularly calm and relaxed you might try to gently vacuum out the residue, but history tells us most dogs don’t like vacuum’s… use discretion here.
Key Tips for Dog Washes:
- Use a rubber bath insert or other mat to help your dog retain their footing in the tub.
- A detachable shower head can help make rinsing quick and easy.
- Start by bathing once per month, and adjust frequency as you learn more about your dog.
- Brush regularly
- Keep dry shampoo or doggy cologne on hand for between-bath maintenance