It's time again for that biannual trip to your favorite dog groomer. Everyone knows that keeping pets can be time-consuming and expensive, but those comb-and-clip bills sure do add up. Why do it? The way your dog looks is important, but proper grooming is about so much more – it really is a fundamental aspect of dog care that can't be ignored or shoved down the priority list. Here are four major ways that grooming helps protect your precious pooch's overall health.
Prevent Hot Spots
Hot spots are a fairly common affliction among dogs, and they're often associated with either injury or cleanliness issues. Basically, a hot spot is an infection of the skin (usually bacterial) that can fester and turn into open wounds. These spots often arise in irritates or abraded areas of the skin. Coats that become matted, or contain excess oils and skin flakes, offer the perfect habitat for bacteria to colonize. The mats themselves may pull at the skin, and the dog's own scratching and licking may make it even easier for infection to take hold.
Reduce Injury Risk
Trimming toenails is one of the most important dog care tasks that no one ever really seems to want to do. A lot of dogs really don't like you messing with their toes, and the nails grow so fast that it's difficult to keep up with them. If allowed to grow too long, those nails can easily split or snag – now the dog has an open wound and still needs his nails trimmed. As much as possible, spend time getting your dog comfortable with having his feet handled. If the dog's anxiety around trims is severe, then talk to your veterinarian about options to help calm him for this necessary procedure.
In a well-publicized story from May 2016, an otherwise healthy dog was nearly euthanized for what turned out to be a case of tick paralysis. While this kind of story is fairly rare, it is absolutely true that keeping dogs parasite-free is a constant battle. Not only do they have dense coats in which ticks, fleas, and other nasty creatures can hide, they also tend to get direct exposure to some pretty infested environments. Regular grooming can help identify parasite infestations early, and it's also a lot easier to perform a thorough parasite check on a well-groomed dog than one with a scruffy, knotted coat.
Get an Extra Checkup
Chances are, your dog sees the veterinarian at least once a year for a checkup and physical exam. There's a lot that can happen between one exam and the next, but few people have the expertise to identify the warning signs of health problems. Your groomer is intimately familiar with every inch of your dog and is in a great position to identify items of concern such as odd lumps, bumps or skin discolorations.
Bear in mind, it's critical that your dog not only receives regular grooming but that it is also professionally groomed by a licensed provider. These groomers have the proper tools to tend to your dog without causing pain, and can complete a nose-to-tail groom quickly and efficiently. Professional groomers also understand proper cleanliness procedures so that they can avoid introducing infections or spreading parasites from one dog to another. Together with a veterinarian (such as one from Murrells Inlet Veterinary Hospital), the groomer helps ensure that you have access to a well-rounded dog care team.