Zoe the Vet shares her top tips on how to keep your pets coat in good condition and will help you if you have a pet who is not so keen on being groomed.
1. Feed a good diet
Diet is the most important factor behind good coat condition. A good quality diet will ensure that your pet has a smooth glossy coat. Signs of poor coat condition include flaky skin, a dry coat with brittle hair that breaks easily, excessive moulting, greasy residue and an unpleasant smell.
2. Add essential fatty acids to the diet
Some poorer quality diets can be deficient in omega 3 fatty acids. These are really important for skin health. Adding a supplement can vastly improve skin and coat condition. Use a supplement specifically designed for animals such as Yumega or Viacutin. Using human supplements especially cod liver oil based products can lead to vitamin A toxicity.
3. Brush your pets at least once a week.
Weekly brushing is really important to maintain a glossy coat, even in animals with short hair. It will remove any excess hair, dirt and will help spread oils through the coat, keeping it shiny. Some breeds of dog with very long or thick coats may require twice weekly brushing.
4. Check your pets coat for ticks
At this time of year ticks are a big issue. They can attach to your pets when they run through long grass. Ticks can spread nasty diseases such as Lymes disease and the risk of this can be reduced if the tick is removed within 24 hours of attachment. Run your hands through your dog’s coat and check especially round the face and up the legs and leg pits. If you are really worried about ticks use a spot on or tablet treatment which will kill the tick once it starts to feed such as Bob Martin Flea Clear spot on or Bravecto. You can also use a preventative collar such as Seresto.
5. Remove Burrs from the coat
At this time of year burrs are also a big problem and will often become entangled in long fur. Check your pets daily and remove any burrs to prevent large matts from forming.
6. Clip long hair
Long haired dogs and dogs with very thick coats will benefit from regular grooming by a qualified groomer. They will thin the hair and remove hair from round the feet and under the tail. This will help prevent matts from forming and will be much more comfortable for your pet. Long haired cats can be an issue as not many groomers will clip them. Ask your vet, they may be able to help with cats that do not like being groomed by sedating them to remove any matts or excessive long hair.
7. Keep grooming positive
If your pet does not like being groomed then keep sessions short initially. Try and groom little and often throughout the day and always reward your pet with a tasty treat or game afterwards. Sometimes if your pet has lots of matts grooming can hurt so they will resent it more. It may be best to ask your vet to sedate your pet and clip off the matts so that you can then make grooming a more positive affair. Try detangling sprays (such as? – not sure if Bob martin do one??) in dogs with very thick coats as this will help prevent painful tugging.
8. Start young
The best way to ensure that your pet does not resent grooming is to start when they are very young. Use a special soft puppy or kitten brush and make it a nice experience. Always reward your pet with a tasty treat or game if they have been good. Most pets will love being groomed in the end.
If your pet has a good diet and healthy coat then shampooing regularly should not be necessary. Of course some dogs can get very muddy necessitating regular shampooing. Try not to shampoo your dog too often as it can lead to a dry coat. If you have to shampoo your dog more regularly then use a gentle conditioning shampoo. Shampoos that contain propylene glycol, glycerine, urea, oatmeal and lactic acid will all help moisturise the skin. (Again not sure what Bob Martin shampoos you have?)
10. Tools for grooming
It’s really important to use the correct brush for the job. You will likely need more than one brush if you have a long haired dog or cat. For dogs with thick coats a narrow toothed brush or comb will be needed to remove any loose under coat such as a Furminator or Moult Master. A wider toothed brush can then be used to brush through the top coat. Cats like softer brushes over their backs. Some brushes will even give them a massage such as the Zoom groom brush.