The summer heat is totally cramping my style. Can you give the low-down on how to prep dogs for beach season?
Maribel the Mountain Dog
Maintaining a regular grooming routine is not all about looking good, though that’s certainly a motivation. It’s also about keeping a close eye on the condition of your skin, ears and nails, and solving small problems before they become big ones.
I have compiled a few tips to help keep you cool, clean and comfortable during the dog days of summer.
Clean Your Ears
Good ear care is especially important in warmer months. Humidity and heat can make your ears a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria. And if you, like me, like to take to dip in the water, you could be at even greater risk for ear infections. Have your human clean your ears and gently swipe the inside with a cotton ball after each swim.
Trim Those Toes
Since you will be spending more time romping outside, make sure your nails are properly trimmed. If your nails grow too long, they can force your foot out of position, and the nails can crack or break if they catch on something—that can be painful. Rule of paw: If you hear clickety-clack when you walk, it’s time for a trim.
Protect Your Paws
Walking on hot, hard surfaces, including sand, can dry your paws, which may lead to cracking. Have your human moisturize your pads daily, especially in hot weather, to help prevent injuries and burns.
If you’re unsure if it’s too hot to walk, here’s a quickie test for your human to try before putting paw to pavement. It’s called the five-second rule: Have your human place her hand against the pavement for five seconds. If it’s too hot for her, it’s too hot for you. The best times in summer for long walks and exercise are in the early morning and just before sunset, when it’s still light outside. That’s also when more mosquitoes are active—ask your vet about protection from those little suckers.
It may be tempting to shave all that thick hair in the summer, but don’t do it. Dogs use their coats as protection from sunburn and insulation against the heat. Eliminating this natural cooling system can lead to discomfort and overheating—not to mention the indignity of a bad haircut. And don’t forget to bathe—a dirty dog is a stinky dog. Washing regularly will ensure coat and skin are clean and free of dirt, grime and allergens.
Brushing a dog’s hair is the best way to keep skin and coat healthy, and help prevent skin or pest problems from becoming worse. It’s also a good time to check for fleas and ticks, cuts and lumps, and excessively dry skin. Not only does brushing keep your coat beautiful, it’s important for your overall health.
Word to Humans: Grooming is not just a vanity thing. Besides keeping your dog healthy and comfortable, the time you spend combing and cleaning your dog will strengthen his or her coat, and surely strengthen the bond you share.
Davi still feels robbed for not winning Best Groomed at his obedience school.