3 Reasons To Groom Your Dog (Even If They Have Short Hair!)
If your pup has long, luxurious fur, chances are that you are at least aware of some of the benefits of regularly grooming your dog. Whether it’s just when seasons change and shedding starts, or a more frequent grooming regiment, you know at minimum it helps keep a little less fur from finding its way around the house. However, if your pup’s fur is shorter, you may have never given a second thought to whether you should be doing any kind of routine maintenance when it comes to your pup’s coat. In “short”, the answer is that you should be grooming your short-haired pup anyway! Here are 3 reasons why:
1. It improves your dog’s health
There are tons of health benefits to brushing your dog regularly! First off, it helps keep your dog’s fur looking tidy and healthy. Brushing removes dead fur that would otherwise stay stuck in their coat, collecting things like grime and dead skin cells. Not only can these things contribute to an icky look and smell, but it can irritate your dog’s skin and lead to things like excessive scratching, chewing, hot spots, and eventually, even skin infections.
On that note, if your dog is chewing or scratching a lot, there can be tons of different causes. If your dog is still chewing and scratching with a good grooming routine, make sure any shampoo you use during their baths are made specifically for dogs. It can also indicate seasonal allergies or even food allergies. My sweet pup Cookie used to really struggle with itchy skin, and after a visit to the vet they determined he was allergic to fleas. After taking care of his fleas at the time it definitely helped, but he continued to have some itchiness. We tried switching to a higher quality dog food and that made a difference- I won’t recommend any specific brand, mainly choosing a dog food where the first ingredient is any kind of meat seems to work for him. Finally, we also noticed when we travel to our hometown in MO to see family, Cookie tends to start doing a lot more scratching and licking, so we are pretty sure he has some kind of environmental and/or seasonal allergy.
Some other causes of scratching and chewing include stress or skin diseases like mange. If your dog is still having itchy skin, it’s best to take them to the vet to get a checkup. Your vet can tell you the most likely cause based on your dog’s history and any patterns you’ve noticed when it comes to their scratching, such as doing it a certain time of the year, after a stressful situation, or if it’s a sudden onset. If your dog has a disease such as mange, it’s best to go to the vet to get your dog properly treated, as many “home remedies” for mange can actually range from delaying your dog’s healing to being outright dangerous.
When it comes to other aspects of grooming and your dog’s health, there are a few main ones. Surprisingly, trimming your dog’s claws can actually help prevent joint issues later on in life. A dog whose claws consistently touch the ground when they walk actually change their posture which can lead to joint issues in the long term, so if your pup sounds like they’re tap dancing when they walk on a hard surface, it’s time for a trim! If you need help with that, we have a whole article on how to trim your dog’s claws, even if they hate it!
You should also bathe your dog. While there are a lot of different recommendations out there on how often to bathe your dog, or if they even need regular bathing at all, the best advice I have is to choose a good shampoo. Human shampoo shouldn’t be used because your dog’s fur and skin are totally different from yours- from the natural acidity to not having sweat glands on most of their body. As long as you choose a shampoo specifically made for dogs, your pup doesn’t get itchy after a bath, and you don’t bathe them often enough to try out their skin, you’re good to go! You can also ask your vet what they recommend when it comes to the frequency of bathing your dog, as your dog’s lifestyle and breed can really affect how often they need a good bath and even how you should bathe them!
2. It makes them more fun to be around
Let’s be honest- we love our dogs, but sometimes it’s hard to love things like a carpet full of fur or a super stinky pup. And even if you’ve grown immune to your dog’s smells and shedding, other friendly humans in your life might find it more enjoyable to be around a tidier furry friend. While your dog’s health is certainly priority number one, a proper grooming routine will also have the pleasant side effect of making your dog look, feel, and smell more dapper.
First and foremost, no matter how much you love your pup, shedding can be an unpleasant part of ownership. Cookie’s fur isn’t long, but it’s certainly very wiry, and those hairs can almost be downright prickly! It seems more prone to getting stuck in anything from my husband’s dress clothes to my favorite pair of pajamas and almost impossible to get out aside from sitting down and plucking the individual strands out. I put a lot of time and effort into cleaning up after Cookie’s “unique” coat, but taking the time to groom means less hair in the air and all over the house.
Make sure you get a brush that is appropriate for your dog’s fur and the specific kind of job you’re doing. Slicker brushes are good for dogs with a shorter coat, rake-style brushes can help with heavy shedders, and flea combs can help you out if you’re treating your dog for a flea problem, or even help you pick up hairs left behind by your other brushes and help you keep an eye out for secondary signs of fleas, which look like black pepper stuck in the brush.
I’m a big fan of a weird rubber brush I picked up pretty cheaply. While it may sound odd at first, it actually works really well and doubles as a cleaning tool if I’m struggling to get fur off of a couch, the carpet, or other soft surfaces. It really seems to do a much better job of picking up those stiff, prickly furs that get embedded in fabric than other things like lint rollers or vacuums. And of course, when it comes to having furry friends in your home, regular vacuuming is a must. Oops, I guess you’re not here for a cleaning lesson though.. Let’s get back to talking about your dog!
Besides working with your dog’s particular fur coat, your dog’s dental care comes into play when you’re considering your dog’s appearance and smell. While your pup’s breath shouldn’t smell like a bed of roses, really stinky breath can be a sign of mouth disease or even digestive problems. While it may seem like a silly idea to brush your dog’s teeth regularly, it can help. Just make sure you use a toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs! There are treats made to help with your dog’s breath too. Most of all I recommend getting your dog interested in chew toys!
3. It's great for getting to know your dog
Finally, grooming your dog is a great way to incorporate regular one-on-one time with your dog and promote a healthy relationship between you and your best friend. Grooming your dog shows them that you care and that they can trust you to keep their best interests in mind. Having a well-groomed dog is also a subtle sign to others that your pup is in a place where it is lavished with love and sets a good example for others around you. If you have or are around kids, showing off and teaching them about a proper grooming routine can help them gain a deeper understanding of responsibility and how the extra love and care we put into our pets can make a huge difference.
For me, regularly checking out Cookie’s eyes is very important. He has had a skin tag on his eyelid for several years that has been growing slowly over time. By checking it regularly and taking a close look at his eyes, I can be sure it isn’t causing him any pain or irritation. I imagine it will have to be removed someday, so regularly checking up on how it affects Cookie’s can help me know when it’s beginning to affect his health in a negative way. I look for redness and excessive discharge (we lovingly call they eye boogers). When he starts having these symptoms, I’ll know it’s time to call up my vet and discuss our options to keep Cookie’s health and eyesight intact.
Not only is your dog’s DIY spa day just another opportunity to hang out with your four-legged-friend and monitor their health, but the extra time and attention will help you get to know your dog better on a more personal, detailed level. Focused time with your dog such as that spent grooming helps you notice things you wouldn’t have seen before- maybe a deeper understanding of their personality, what they do and don’t like, how to notice subtle changes in body language showing they’re uncomfortable. Regular grooming is a structured way to get these detailed observations of your dog’s special and unique personality in. By the way, you should have a look at how your special pup’s name will look like on this very special ring of ours ;)
Finally, it just shows you care. I know for a fact that, if you’ve reached this sentence, you are extremely dedicated to your dog’s health and well-being! Thank you so much, not only for reading another blog post by yours truly, but for caring so much for your precious pup..I hope that you enjoyed reading, I hope you have a wonderful week, and I look forward to writing for you again next time!