Warm Weather Grooming Secrets For Dogs
By Carol Bryant, Professional Pet Blogger
Whether you have a long-haired Dachshund or a short-haired Basenji, all dogs have grooming needs that change with the warmer weather.
Dog grooming includes cleaning, styling, and caring for your dog’s physical appearance from head to tail. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional groomer to care for your dog’s skin, coat, and nails.
Between professional grooming appointments, there are many things you can do to keep your dog in tip-top warm weather shape. We all know about baths, nail trims, and regular brushing, but have you heard of frothing? How about lick mats? Foxtails?
Here’s everything you need to know to keep your dog’s skin and coat looking and feeling in sizzling shape all summer.
First, a ‘pup’ quiz to see how much you know about your dog’s skin and coat.
Head To Tail Pup Quiz
Answer true or false for each statement. Check for the answers at the end of this quiz.
- The skin is the largest organ of a dog’s body.
- Most dog sweat releases through their paws.
- Canine skin is much thinner and more sensitive than human skin.
- You should not use human shampoo on your dog.
- Some dog breeds have hair, while others have fur.
Dog Hair or Dog Fur?
Fur or hair? Though used interchangeably, the terms have major differences.
Dog hair is coarse, longer, and grows continuously during your dog’s life. Dog fur is much shorter and finer than hair and grows to a certain length before new fur replaces it.
Dogs with hair don’t shed as much as those with fur. Hair takes longer to grow than fur, and dogs with hair tend to shed less than those with fur.
Examples of dogs with hair include the Poodle, Bichon Frise, and Border Collie. Dogs with fur include the Jack Russel Terrier, Golden Retriever, and French Bulldog.
Grooming a dog with hair is different than grooming a dog with fur. Fur keeps dogs warm in colder weather and protects the skin in warmer weather. Furry dogs shed more and require regular grooming and brushing.
Grooming a dog with hair includes trimming and shaping the coat instead of only brushing and de-shedding. Dog hair goes through a growth cycle, just like humans.
Whether your dog has hair or fur, they may suffer from itchy, allergic skin. Use a gentle, nourishing like ZYMOX Advanced Enzymatic Shampoo to soothe, hydrate, and help relieve itchy skin. ZYMOX avoids detergents, chlorines, and parabens which can further irritate your dog’s skin.
Frothing Your Dog Vs. Bathing
I was hooked the first time I tried frothing my Cocker Spaniel instead of his typical bath. Frothing involves turning dog shampoo and conditioner into a foamy, creaming meringue texture. You only need warm water, a measuring cup, dog shampoo, and a handheld milk frother.
Frothing is a fancy way of activating emulsifiers in dog shampoo, so a thick foam forms. You use less shampoo, and the foamy concoction sticks to your dog’s coat better.
You can froth a dog on a wet or dry coat, but I prefer the latter to help break down the dirt in my Cocker Spaniel’s hair. He has seasonal environmental allergies but itches less after a froth bath with ZYMOX Shampoo and ZYMOX Leave-On Conditioner.
Add a small amount of shampoo with the desired amount of water. I use two cups of warm water to one tablespoon of ZYMOX shampoo for my Cocker Spaniel.
Use a milk frother to blend the ingredients until a foamy head forms. Scoop the frothy mixture onto your hands and apply, massaging into your dog’s skin and coat. Rinse as usual.
Lick Mat Mania
If your dog is averse to baths or grooming sessions, a lick mat can be a soothing option, especially in the heat of summer.
Made of rubber silicone, lick mats have textures and patterns on the surface. Put your dog’s favorite lickable snack into each nook and cranny of the mat.
Some ideas include:
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Peanut butter (without Xylitol)
- Wet dog food
- Cottage cheese
- Mashed-up fruit such as a banana
- Sweet potato
Stick the lick pad to your tub or grooming table. Dogs are so busy licking their treat from the mat that they forget about getting a bath, nail clipping, brushing, or getting a haircut.
Hot Spots and Itchy Dog Skin
Moist bacterial infections (hot spots) are common in warmer months. Check your dog’s skin and paws daily, especially in spring and summer.
Allergies, insect bites, coat issues, trauma, mange, or other issues cause hot spots. Preventing a hot spot from forming is your best bet. Work with your veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist to identify the underlying cause.
In the meantime, grooming, brushing, and bathing regularly help your dog’s skin stay healthy and hot-spot free. I always pack ZYMOX Topical Spray for Dogs in my fanny pack on walks and dog travel bag in the event of hot spots or minor skin irritations on the go.
Foxtails are a dog’s nemesis. Foxtail plants are a weed-like grass shaped like a fox’s tail with spiked clusters and barbs. Foxtails are often found on trails, in parks, meadows, and grassy fields, all of which dogs frequent in warmer months. Try to stay clear of foxtail-prone areas.
Foxtails can attach to any part of your dog’s body, including their eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, or spaces between their paw pads. They can even burrow into your dog’s skin and internal organs.
Check your dog closely after being outdoors. Remove foxtails carefully with tweezers. If you suspect your dog snorted or swallowed a foxtail, seek veterinary intervention.
Keeping the coat shorter in the summer months can lessen the likelihood of foxtails attaching.
Pup Quiz Answers
All of the statements are true! How did you do on the quiz?
Want to learn more about caring for your dog’s skin? Check out Dr. Patricia Thomblison’s article on canine skin and hair.
About the Author
Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant as a “dog lover of the highest order” when she and her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, appeared on Oprah Radio. Carol is well-known in the pet industry, having appeared on television, radio shows, and podcasts, as well as in articles from CNN and Yahoo to Dogster and Today.com. She is the founder of the award-winning blog FidoseofReality.com and is the Immediate Past President of the Dog Writers Association of America.