In several of our articles about grooming, we only hinted at the dog grooming health relationship. This article explains that connection in much more detail.
The Inarguable Bottom Line
As we introduced in a different article, there’s just no way around grooming our pets. The old argument against grooming is that dogs in the wild get along just fine without it, so it must not be that necessary. While the basis of that argument is true, it’s used in the wrong context. When we talk about grooming dogs, we’re not talking about grooming dogs in the wild. We’re talking about grooming dogs that have been conditioned to live in an environment built for humans. Our environment doesn’t provide the proper resources for wild dogs (natural rough terrains, etc.). Our environment instead provides us with resources to help domesticated dogs survive in our setting.
This is why we must brush and comb a dog’s coat, clip its nails, and even brush its teeth. These are the things that keep a dog healthy and alive.
Health Benefits of Grooming
Almost all of a canine’s most common pest issues can be prevented and corrected through simple dog grooming. Daily brushing and combing can remove fleas and other nuisances like dirt and plant debris. It also helps distribute dogs’ natural oils throughout its coat, helping to make the coat resistant to additional dirt and dust. If this important grooming step is ignored, you put your dog at risk for tangles and matting.
Understand that matted hair isn’t just unsightly. It’s a health risk that can spur a few troublesome behaviors even after it’s removed. For example, the skin of a shaven dog itches and prompts a lot of unnecessary scratching and self-biting. It’s also embarrassing and prompts an otherwise friendly and sociable dog into hiding. And as if that weren’t enough, a matted dog may have to contend with parasites, flea bites, and skins sores.
Clipping a dog’s nails once a month helps prevent overgrowth, breakage, and pad perforation. If this part of grooming is grossly neglected as well, a dog with overgrown nails may never walk the same again.
Just like with our teeth, dog teeth can become victims to plaque and tartar buildup. That’s why daily brushing is so important – especially since plaque and tartar can contribute to gum disease. This too affects dogs the same way that it affects humans.
The Grooming Schedule
It’s important to note that the health of your pet also depends on how often you groom it. Grooming your dog once a month or several times throughout the year isn’t going to be sufficient. Most grooming requirements will fit into a nice weekly schedule, however, depending on a dog’s breed and coat type, those requirements may be daily or bi-weekly necessities. Read our article about grooming dogs with different coat types to see how often your breed may need grooming. And then read our article about using a dog brush to learn how properly groom your dog’s specific coat type.
Following a rigid dog grooming health schedule will not only prevent avoidable health problems, it will also help you catch existing health problems early enough for treatment. Let’s face it, you just can’t get any closer to a dog than by grooming it. So use it as an opportunity to monitor your dog’s health.
Signs of Trouble
If you notice unusual bumps or lumps while grooming your dog, mention them to your vet. They could indicate warts, tumors, or cancer, especially in an older dog. The sooner you find them, the more treatable they are.
If you notice that your dog winces in pain while being groomed, carefully try to locate that source of pain and identify the problem. Ear pawing or head shaking could indicate an ear problem while tearing could indicate an infection. Limping and unusual itching, smells, discharges, and body licking are additional signs of trouble that your vet should know about immediately.