Spring cleaning? Don’t forget the pooch!

By Amanda Thomas, lead groomer

April is a great time to attack the cobwebs and clear out closets. If you’re a dog owner who hasn’t been to the groomer since before Halloween, there’s another item you’ll need to add to the Spring to-do list. It’s not just a matter of giving Fido a fancy new look either; for many dogs, winter coat growth left unattended can be unattractive, uncomfortable, and unhealthy. Here are four tips on how and why to help your pup welcome the new season.

Know your dog’s coat

Dogs’ coats shed with the seasonal light cycle. When spring sunshine becomes a constant, undercoats develop as our furry friends blow their winter undercoats. Mats form when damaged and dirty hairs crisscross into knots. These knots continue to twist and tighten, growing larger when not brushed and groomed frequently. Left unaddressed, mats can tug on the skin and cut off blood flow. Just imagine if the hair on your head was twisted so tight that it actually lifted the scalp. Ouch!

Shave vs. trim

There’s a great debate about the philosophy of giving pooches a summer shave. While it might seem intuitive that less hair = cooler dog, most dog coats serve as a protective layer that blocks sunlight and helps maintain a lower body temperature. There’s no substitute for a well-maintained coat to keep them comfortable through warmer weather.

Don’t blame the groomer

For dogs that are seriously overgrown, shaving away mats is the safest and most humane way to treat a neglected coat. Merely brushing and removing the matted portions of the coat can irritate or even cut the skin. It also thins out sections of coat that make the groom look uneven and choppy. Just as you’d feel uncomfortable with a half-year’s worth of hair shaved to the scalp, your dog will need some time to get used to the new smooth-skin look. It’s not the groomer’s fault... when a dog’s coat has been neglected, they’re doing what’s best for their comfort and health.

Keeping your dog’s groom in shape

If your pooch has a high maintenance coat, it’s important to stay on top of it year-round. Different coats require different levels of upkeep, as well as different types of brushes. Short, single coats are best when brushed with a rubber-tipped brush. For those with combination coats like Doodles or Shih Tzus, use a soft slicker that matches the length of coat and the amount of “drop” you’d like to see. Breeds like Golden Retrievers with medium to long double and triple coats are best combed with a metal “rake” tool. The simple rule is more coat means more maintenance, but a professional groom will end up costing you less and your dog will be happier if you keep up a regular schedule of brushing during those cold winter months.

Greg Robeson