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Dog Brushing

Dog Brushing

Brushing serves several purposes. It removes dirt and foreign objects (sometimes called “hitchhikers”) from your dog’s coat, helps your dog feel well, alerts you to certain skin health problems, and cuts down on shedding. And it all starts with the right brush.

For Dogs with Short Coats: Use a soft-bristled brush, which will easily remove dead hair and help spread bodily oils over your dog’s coat, creating a healthy gloss. Bristle brushes have soft straight bristles on a flat base. Because this design doesn’t penetrate as deeply as others, it works best for short coats.

For Dogs with Long Wavy or Wire Coats: Use a pin brush. The pins will go deep enough to pull out the dead hair that causes matting, and will also expel any “hitchhikers.” Pin or wire brushes have straight metal bristles on a rubber base. This brush provides deep penetration and is excellent for fluff-drying long fur and heavy undercoats.

For Dogs with Long Curly or Silky Coats: Use a slicker brush. These are easy to find almost anyplace animal brushes are sold; they have a flat, rectangular head, and bent wire bristles. Such brushes work out curly tangles and keep straight coats soft and shiny. A slicker brush is the most versatile tool, working well for a variety of coats. The short, bent, wire bristles grab and remove loose undercoat hairs, and frequent use helps prevent matting.

For Dogs with Especially Dense, Heavy Fur: Use a wide-toothed comb, which will go where no brush can possibly reach. The more teeth there are on the comb, the better a job it will do at getting rid of dead hair.

A newer innovation is the “hound glove.” These are worn on your hands (just like any other glove), but have semi-soft rubber bristles on the palm. Some also have wire bristles on the top of the hand. Dogs who hate being brushed are more likely to succumb to hound gloves, since it may make them feel like they’re being pet, instead of merely brushed. A hound or grooming glove features rubber nubs or short bristles on a flexible cloth base that fits over your hand. This glove works best on short coats, but the sensation of being petted with a hound-gloved hand makes it a favorite of all dogs!

When to Brush

Dogs with long coats should be brushed daily. Short haired dogs may only need brushing two or three times a week How often you need to brush and comb your dog depends on his coat and lifestyle. Dogs with longer hair that spend a lot of their time romping outdoors typically require the most grooming. If you’re unsure how often to brush your dog, ask your veterinarian for his advice.

Always brush your dog before you bathe him, too. This loosens dirt and dander from his coat, helps you spot and remove any foreign objects get rid of dead hair, and allows your dog’s natural oils to circulate and benefit his entire coat.

In addition, make sure you brush your medium to long-haired dog each time he gets wet, because even a simple run through a sprinkler may be enough to get his hair matted, but a prompt brushing will take care of the problem.

How to Brush

Many dog breeds have a “double coat:” an outer (or “guard”) coat, and an undercoat. Don’t make the mistake of brushing only the outer coat; if you do, your pet is likely to become a matted mess.

Begin brushing at the head, working toward the tail and down the legs. If you begin by brushing in the opposite direction of your dog’s hair growth, this will help loosen dead hair. Afterwards, brush the same direction his fur grows, paying particular attention to the legs and flanks, and areas that easily mat. A pin brush can be used to fluff the coat by brushing against the direction of hair growth. Regular brushing will help distribute the natural oils from the skin, producing a healthy, shiny coat. Brushing several times a week is recommended for most dogs.

If any of your dog’s hair is matted, it’s important to remedy the problem as soon as possible, as matted hair can lead to skin irritation. First, try to gently remove the mat with a comb (or just your fingers). Nonetheless, no matter how patient you are, sometimes matted hair must be cut out. Just be sure to use blunt-tipped scissors, so that your dog doesn’t accidentally get a puncture wound if he shifts as you’re cutting.

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