Keeping your dog clean during the summer isn't always an easy task. Whether you're bringing Fido to the park, the beach or going for a good ol' walk, your pup is bound to get a little dirty. While there are options when it comes to getting dogs professionally groomed, which is advised now and then, there are also ways to keep them clean at home. Here are some tips from local groomers at DogPerfect and Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming to help you out this summer.
Thoroughly wash your dog every four to six weeks.
DogPerfect groomer Kristin Feoli says that monthly baths with hypoallergenic shampoo for indoor dogs should work—but if they get muddy or dirty, bathing is never bad. (DogPerfect also offers self-service washing station at its Lakewood Ranch store.)
Woof Gang Bakery store manager Lauren Redington adds that swimming in the pool or ocean will dry out dogs' skin and fur. Rinsing them off after a dip will help remove salt and chlorine.
Use a good quality shampoo.
Find a shampoo without chemicals like parabens, sulfates or propylene glycol. "The rule of thumb is to go for the least powerful-smelling shampoo," says Feoli. Avoid shampoos that are brightly colored—they contain unnecessary chemicals.
Look for products that contain oatmeal, aloe or tea tree oil. Brands like Skout's Honor or TropiClean offer probiotic shampoos and two-in-one products. Read the list of ingredients; if you can't pronounce them, they may be harmful.
Use waterless shampoo or cleansing wipes between baths.
Foaming or dry shampoos are a great alternative to washing dogs when they've gotten dirty between baths. You can find all-natural products in many local pet stores. Medicated wipes will also help keep away allergens and irritants from outside. You can also use a damp washcloth with a bit of coconut oil on your dog's skin for hydration.
Brush long-haired dogs often.
Feoli says any breed that sheds or has a double coat should be brushed regularly to avoid mats. De-shedding brushes like the Furminator help remove mats and loose fur. Short-haired dogs can benefit from tools like this, too.
Redington suggests brushing long-haired dogs up to twice per week to prevent tangled fur. She also recommends brushing before and after every swimming session.
Have dogs groomed every six to eight weeks.
Keeping your dog on a regular grooming schedule is a good idea. "This will help detect issues with their skin, coat, nails and ears," says Feoli.
"Our groomers suggest asking for a swimmer's cut for dogs with long fur," adds Redington. "This uses a two clipper comb and provides a cut shorter than 3/8-inch."
Don't shave dogs too close to the skin. They will overheat!
There's a common misconception that shaving dogs down will keep them cooler—but it will actually make them hotter. Feoli says that dogs thermoregulate through their fur, which helps them trap and release heat depending on the weather. Redington also says newly shaved dogs can sunburn.
If you want your dog to get a trim, a light one is best. Hair between paw pads can also be trimmed down, and the stomach area shaved closely for a cooling effect.
If you're unsure about how your breed should be cut, ask your groomer.
Stay safe and cool this summer.
Always check the pavement temperature before walking your dog on it. "Burned paw pads are a common issue, and lighter-colored pads will burn more easily," says Redington. In the summer, walk your dog earlier than 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. to avoid direct sun, or have them wear booties or adhesive pads for protection. And make sure to keep dogs well-hydrated.
Feoli advises having your pup's nails trimmed regularly at grooming sessions or at the vet, and Redington recommends checking ears often for signs of infection, especially if your dog is swimming this summer. "Gently clean out the ears each time they get wet," she says.
"If you ever have questions, don't be afraid to ask your groomer," adds Feoli. "We want what's best for your pets."
DogPerfect is located at 5419 University Parkway, University Park, (941) 803-4464; 11605 State Road 70 East, Lakewood Ranch, (941) 803-4496; 4820 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 564-0094. Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming is located at 8314 Market St., Lakewood Ranch, (941) 907-9111.