Everyone wants to be a good “parent” or owner to their little four-legged friend. Grooming is part of taking care of your dog, and keeping them happy, healthy, and clean. Some people prefer to have their dogs groomed professionally, whereas others prefer to take care of things at home. Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to know how to properly groom your dog. Equally important is understanding the things you absolutely shouldn’t do when it comes to dog grooming. So, we thought we’d put together this list highlighting the top 5 dog grooming mistakes that you should avoid at all costs, for the safety, health, and well-being of your pup.
#1 – Shaving Your Dog During Summer
The impulse to shave your dog’s coat during the summer time makes sense intellectually, at least from the standpoint of being a human. You think that getting rid of all the extra hair will help them stay cool during the warm summer months, and naturally want to keep your pet comfortable. So, what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, shaving your pet (at any time of year) isn’t necessary for cooling, and can actually do more harm than good. It’s one of the most frequent dog grooming mistakes that owners make. The thick coat helps your dog to regulate their body temperature effectively, in both warm and cold weather. Shaving off their coat can also make them much more prone to sunburn and sun stroke. As a dog’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than humans, and can easily be burned or absorb harmful UV rays.
Shaving your dog can also leave lasting damage to their coats. The hair follicles can become damaged, resulting in poor hair regrowth, patchiness, and duller, less shiny coats when the hair grows back. Regular grooming with a brush and comb is the best approach to keeping your dog’s coat healthy, and removing any excess dead hair. A shorter trim is okay, just so long as you leave sufficient hair to protect them from the sun.
#2 – Washing Your Dog’s Inner Ears
This is also a common dog grooming mistake that many owners make, but your dog’s ears don’t require washing. In fact, you should avoid introducing water or other liquids into or around their ear canal, even when bathing and rinsing your dog. Water or liquids in the ear canal create a perfect environment for bacteria to grow, which often leads to ear infections. It can cause additional irritation, swelling, and discomfort for your pet as well. The ears, eyes, and nose should all be kept dry when you bathe your dog, and certainly should not be intentionally washed with water.
ALSO READ – Dog Grooming – Ear Plucking
#3 – Not Rinsing Your Dog Thoroughly
On the flip side, insufficient rinsing of your dog when you bathe them can be a serious problem, too. That doesn’t mean you should rinse the aforementioned eyes, ears, or nose – in fact, the entire head is best rinsed using a wet cloth or towel. For the rest of your pupper’s body, however, thorough rinsing with water after a bath is very important. Shampoo residue will remain otherwise, and can cause skin irritation, matted or knotted hair, and other coat problems. Insufficient rinsing is another popular example of dog grooming mistakes that many owners may be guilty of from time to time.
While you don’t want to blast your dog with water, a shower head or sink sprayer with decent pressure is usually the best bet for rinsing. Pouring water with a cup or bucket isn’t recommended, and won’t necessarily penetrate far enough into your dog’s coat. Continue rinsing until you don’t see any more little bubbles coming out of their fur, and then a bit longer.
Always be sure to use lukewarm water, too – you don’t want to scald your dog and their sensitive skin. Dogs with extremely sensitive skin can best be served with specialized shampoos, often made with tea tree oil and other natural ingredients. Human shampoo should never be used, as it is too harsh. Conditioners meant for dogs can help restore ingredients like oils and proteins that are lost during washing and rinsing, and some are available with aloe and other skin-calming ingredients.
#4 – Brushing While Their Coat is Still Wet
After a bath, a swim, or even a romp in the yard in the rain, you may want to brush and/or comb your dog’s hair to get their coat back in shape. But be warned – you should always dry them first. Then, allow any remaining moisture to air dry, before you attempt to brush to comb their fur. Brushing while their coat is still wet is another of the major dog grooming mistakes. It can irritate your dog’s skin, as it tends to cause hair to clump together. This will make knots and mats even worse, and end up pulling on their skin when you comb or brush them.
Most experts suggest you brush them and comb them before a bath if they have significant knots and mats, and then again after they’re fully dry. The exception here is short-haired dogs, since there’s no risk of matting – they can be brushed and combed during a bath or after, even if they are still a bit wet.
#5 – Bathing Too Frequently
Speaking of bathing, doing it too often is another of the most common dog grooming mistakes you should avoid. Bathing your dog too often will damage their coat. It removes the natural oils and proteins that coat the hairs. It can also dry out and irritate skin, and make any existing conditions much worse. Unless your dog has a particular skin condition or other medical reason to be bathed more frequently, a once-monthly bath is all that is necessary. Obviously, if your dog gets into mud, dirt, or other messes, and you need to give them a quick bath, that’s a different story. But regularly-scheduled baths on a frequency of more than once a month are not recommended.
One more note for bath time – use towels, drying mitts, or a specially-made dog dryer to dry off your dog, or let their coat dry naturally. Human hair dryers should not be used on dogs, as they can cause overheating and even burn the skin – even on their lowest settings.