Everyday Care: Brushing your Dog

All dogs benefit from regular brushing of their hair coats.  Some dogs need to have their coats brushed Brushing your Dogregularly otherwise they will develop matted or tangled hair.  Sometimes the matted or tangled hair can be combed out, but often times the mats and tangles need to be shaved or trimmed.  If the matted or tangled hair is not removed from your dog’s coat it can cause your dog pain by pulling the skin, and secondary skin infections.  Although shaving or trimming can solve the problem, it will often leave a very noticeable bald spot, or spots depending how many areas of the coat have been affected.

If done correctly, brushing and combing can become a very enjoyable time for you and your dog.  Also, it will make your dog look and feel better.  When starting to brush your dog it is important to use the appropriate brush for your dog’s coat.  The following are some guidelines for selecting the appropriate brush or comb for your dog:

1.  Bristle brush:  Different styles are available.  For medium and large breed dogs you typically will want a large pin brush and for small breed dogs a short pin brush.

2.  Rubber brush: Designed for use on short-coated dogs.

3.  Slicker brush: Designed for using to remove dirt and loose hair from the dog’s coat.

4.  Undercoat rake: Designed for removing dead hair from the undercoat in dogs with a thick double-coat

5.  Dog comb: Designed for combing out matted or tangled hair.  There is a flea comb that has tightly spaced teeth that can remove fleas.

After you have acquired the appropriate brush for your dog you will need to find a place to brush your dog that is easy to clean up.  You probably don’t want to select a room where there is carpet or rugs.  Sweeping hair is much easier then vacuuming.  To make the brushing a positive experience you might want to include treats as part of the experience.

The following are some tips for brushing your dog:Dog Brushing and Everyday Care

1.  You can start from the front or back.  It is up to you.

2.  Be gentle around the head when brushing and be very careful not to harm the eyes.  You can hold the hair in your fingers and comb the hair out to avoid touching the face.  Do the same with ear hair.

3.  If your dog has thick fur, especially around the neck and tail, use a comb or undercoat rake.  Finish with brushing after thoroughly combing these areas.

4.  If your dog has short hair on the legs it doesn’t need to be brushed.  If the your dog’s legs have long hairs on the back (“feathers”) you will need to comb them to prevent tangles.

5.  On the sides and back, brush against the fur and then finish with brushing in the direction of hair growth.  This helps remove dead hair.

These are general recommendations.  Keep in mind every dog is different in the style and frequency of brushing they will require.  To learn about how to bathe your dog at home, click here.

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Dr Peter Nurre

Peter Nurre, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (internal medicine) is a board- certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. His professional interests include internal medicine and cardiology.

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