These days more people are asking us “how can I make my dog less anxious,…
Get answers to frequently asked questions about Spring care for dogs’ hair and fur (and yes, there’s a difference!).
As the weather warms up, you’re probably going to start seeing more, and denser, “puppy tumbleweeds.” You know, those balls of hair or fur that collect in corners and under the furniture – even when you’re good about brushing your furry friend’s coat regularly.
We’re entering shedding season. The weeks (sometimes months), when dogs’ bodies sense that the need for their thickest layers is over, and drop even more hair and fur than normal — all over your house!
We get a lot of questions about dog grooming, especially in the Spring. Here are some answers:
I love Spring walks in the woods, but what can we do about all that mud?
Mud can be tough to clean off, especially if your dog’s got a longer coat.
If wiping your pet’s coat and paws with a damp towel or warm water doesn’t do the trick after a muddy outing, an inexpensive and non-toxic alternative is cornstarch. Apply a small amount to the muddy areas of your dog’s coat and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, brush it out with a slicker brush.
Side perk: cornstarch is a pretty decent deodorizer for your dog’s coat too!
What about paws with really caked on mud between the toes? Fill a bowl or low basin with warm water and have your dog stand in it for a minute or two. Or, if your dog loves to cuddle, paddle your dog’s paws in the bowl for a few moments. This can help soften the mud and make it easier to clean out. Here’s an example of a handy paw cleaning cup, too.
PRO TIP: Remember to always dry your dog’s paws thoroughly after cleaning to prevent any skin irritation or infections.
And while you might not do this after every walk, a thorough bath and brushing (or even a visit to the spa!)can be a real help by keeping the coat in good condition. The less excess hair, fur, matting or tangles there are, the happier your dog will be, and the easier it is to swipe that mud away!
What’s the best way to brush?
As gently as possible. While you may be tempted to attack your dog’s mud, knots or mats with vigor, that’s not a great idea. Brushes and pulled hair can easily damage their skin (or instill a dislike of grooming in them that will last a lifetime).
Start with a comb or slicker brush, using long strokes along their head and back, then ears, legs, rear, and paw area. Gently separate knots. A de-shedding tool can help dogs with thick double coats.
PRO TIP: If you’ve never used a slicker brush, this is a good tool to have on hand, especially if your dog has a medium-long coat. Its thin, fine wire bristles are close together and slightly bent at the ends.
Is Spring a bad season for pet pests?
In a word: Yes!
From ticks and fleas to mosquitos and black flies, dogs in and around New Hampshire have their paws full when it comes to combating pests. For a more in-depth look at how to help them handle the onslaught, check out our previous article: Spring Pet Pests and How to Control Them.
One simple strategy often overlooked by owners: keep your shrubs and wilder vegetation trimmed back, and lawns mowed. It won’t eliminate a pest problem but it absolutely reduces bugs’ territory.
Also be on the lookout for European Fire Ants. A different red ant from the type found in the southern states, but still found in mounds, and prone to defend their territory with painful bites to man and canine.
Spring days give us that much-needed break from the cold, and this weather is great for you and your furry friend. So don’t let fears of spring coat care for dogs’ hair keep you locked inside.
Do dogs have hair or fur?
Both! We often use the terms interchangeably, but hair is longer, thicker, grows at a slower rate than fur, AND sheds less frequently. Fur, as you can imagine, is just the opposite (not to mention it’s also double thickness!).
Certain breeds have more hair (e.g., Poodles, Afghans, Yorkshire Terriers) which typically has longer strands – sometimes curly sometimes straight – and in a single layer. Other breeds have more fur (e.g., Labrador Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds), double-thick, with a shorter undercoat and longer top coat.
But they all typically have at least some of each. And no matter which your best pal has, regular brushing, trimming and grooming is an important part of their health care. Matting, in particular, is a big-time health hazard you want to prevent.
If you’re concerned about pests or skin and paw health, talk to your veterinarian; for any other woof worries, just give us a call. We love to help care for dogs hair, and help dog lovers love life with their dog even more.
Photo Credit: Laura Roberts