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Grooming could save your dog’s life

Nurturing

PRIDE AND GROOM Regular grooming will prevents matting and also allow you to look for ticks, lumps, bumps and injuries.

Ask the Vet
Esther Van Luipen

Beauty is more than skin-deep when it comes to your dog. Keeping your pet well-groomed not only gives you a clean-smelling pet, it also helps keep your pet more comfortable and allows you to spot health problems before they become serious, even life-threatening.
Have you ever had your hair in a ponytail that was just a little too tight? Matted hair can feel the same way to your dog: a constant pull on the skin, all over their body. Imagine how uncomfortable an ungroomed coat can be.
Regular grooming will prevent those mats, and also allow you to look for ticks, lumps, bumps and injuries. Follow up with your veterinarian on any lumps and bumps you find, and you may detect cancer early enough to save your pet’s life.
Don’t forget to check the ears and mouth while you’re at it, and dental health is just as important to our pets as it to ourselves. If there is a dirty smell from your pet’s breath and there is tartar on the teeth, your pet needs a dental cleaning. This will prevent gum disease, or worse.
Only vets are able to professionally clean the teeth of your pet, as it’s important to clean under the gums and the back of the teeth, and this is only possible under sedation.
Be careful cleaning your dog's ears. They should only have a trace of soft yellow wax in them. If you spot wax that is dark brown, or the ears are smelly or itchy, you’ll need to take a trip to your vet.

Grooming by hair type
For shorthaired breeds, keeping skin and coat in good shape is easy. Run your hands over him daily, a brush over him weekly, and that’s it.
For other breeds, grooming is a little more involved. Breeds such as collies are ‘double-coated’, which means they have a downy undercoat underneath harsher long hair. The down can mat like a layer of felt against the skin if left untended.
To prevent this, divide the coat into small sections and brush against the grain from the skin outward, working from head to tail, section by section. In the spring and autumn – the big shedding times – you’ll end up with enough of that fluffy undercoat to make a whole new dog.
Keep brushing, and think of the benefits: the fur you pull out with a brush won’t end up on the furniture, and removing the old stuff keeps your pet cooler in the summer and lets new insulation come in for the winter.
Silky-coated dogs such as Afghan hounds, cockers and Maltese also need constant brushing to keep tangles from forming. As with the double-coated dogs, work with small sections at a time, brushing from the skin outward, and then comb back into place with the grain for a glossy, finished look. Coats of this type require so much attention that having a groomer keep the dogs trimmed to a medium or short length is often more practical.
Curly and wiry coats, like those on poodles and terriers, need to be brushed weekly, working against the grain and then with it. Curly coats need to be clipped every six weeks; wiry ones, two or three times a year (but clipping every six weeks will keep your terrier looking sharper).

Bonding
Good grooming is about more than keeping your pet looking beautiful and clean-smelling. Regular grooming relaxes the dog who’s used to it, and it becomes a special time shared between you both.
A coat free of mats and tangles and skin free of fleas and ticks are as comfortable to your dog  as clean clothes fresh from the wash are to you. It just makes you feel good, and the effect is the same for your pet. And for some added bonding throw in a tummy rub after every session, sheer bliss!

> Esther van Luipen is a veterinary surgeon in Claremorris Small Animal Practice. She can be contacted at 094 9373955 or at living@mayonews.ie

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