A sunny summer afternoon is the perfect opportunity for you and your dog to spend some time outdoors, whether it’s at the beach, in the park, on a hiking trail, or just in your backyard. However, outdoor adventures can leave your pup covered in mud, dirt, feces, or who knows what. And that means bath time.
But in the summer, cleaning your dog requires some special considerations to ensure they stay cool and comfortable.
Luckily, Tommy Bedid, a Certified Master Groomer and founder of Doggy Stylez Grooming, has shared his best practices for grooming your dog’s coat in hot weather.
Know your dog’s skin type to determine bathing frequency
During the hotter months, some people think they should feed their dog more often, but Bedid says this is a big no-no since a dog’s skin is sensitive and can dry out. So, unless your dog rolled over in something nasty right after a bath, wash your pup.
Talk to your veterinarian or groomer about how often you should bathe your dog. Often short-haired dogs and those with healthy skin do not need to be cleaned often. Long-haired and curly-haired dogs may need more frequent baths to prevent matting – the same goes for dogs with oily skin. For dogs with a lot of folds, keeping the folds clean with towels should be sufficient.
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Prepare your dog for the bath
Most dogs hate bathing. It is an unfamiliar experience where they have no control over the situation and this can create negative associations with it.
According to Bedid, it’s important to be patient and take things slowly. Use cool to lukewarm water and allow your dog to get used to the sounds, smells and processes such as B. by letting him sniff the washcloth or sponge you are lathering him with. (Never pour a bucket of water over their head as this can traumatize your dog, and getting water in their ears can lead to health problems such as infection.).
Use lots of positive reinforcement, including words of encouragement, treats, and even bath toys. You can also try distractions like a lick mat so your dog can focus his attention on munching on some tasty peanut butter.
For dogs that are extremely difficult to bathe, Bedid recommends consulting with your groomer to see what steps can be taken to provide your pup with a safe and hygienic bathing experience, or simply refer your dog to a reputable groomer for to bring bathing.
Choosing the right shampoo
Bedid recommends avoiding heavily scented shampoos and sprays, as not only are our dogs’ noses much more sensitive than ours, but they can also attract unwanted company.
“These sweet-smelling products can attract insects,” says Bedid. Instead, he recommends looking for clean and lightly scented shampoos, or those with ingredients like oatmeal or lavender that can soothe itchy skin.
For dogs with sensitive skin or allergies, this shampoo provides much-needed relief. The soap-free formulation does not strip the fur or dry out the skin. In addition, oatmeal and aloe vera help with skin irritation and provide moisture. The result is a soft, clean and happy pup!
In the summer, he adds that you might want to consider giving your dog flea or tick shampoo treatments (after talking to your vet).
And never use human shampoo, as our pH levels are different than canine ones — meaning what works for us can lead to dry skin, irritation and bacterial growth in our four-legged friends.
Also Read: 3 DIY Dry Shampoos for Your Dog You Can Make at Home
Tips for drying after the bath
If your dog has a shorter coat or a summer cut, you can let it air dry, says Bedid. If you have a dog whose coat holds water, he recommends towel drying to absorb excess water for faster drying times.
These microfiber chenille towels soak up water and dirt quickly and hold up to seven times their weight in water. In addition, drying under the stomach is easy with the side pockets.
For curly, wavy, or double-coated dogs, Bedid recommends brushing them out while they’re still wet. “Dogs, especially those with long coats, who are allowed to air dry after swimming in lakes or pools or bathing at home, risk severe tangles and tangles in their hair,” he says.
Also see: The 5 best scissors to trim your dog’s hair at home
When to visit the pros in summer
Bedid recommends not going too long between grooming sessions. You should bring your dog in regularly for nail trimming, cleaning and bathing. (Plus, groomers often spot ticks that owners might overlook, saving you a trip to the vet.)
But how regularly depends on what you want for your dog—and what’s best for your pup.
If your dog has a long coat, he may benefit from a summer puppy cut.
“We recommend avoiding super-long coats on breeds like Doodles, Shih Tzus, and Cocker Spaniels to avoid overheating,” says Bedid. “If you’re desperate to keep your dog’s coat long for the summer, make sure you moisturize it often and walk during cooler hours like early mornings and late evenings.”
He adds, “If you’re looking for a tight, short summer cut, get it as soon as your hair is long enough to run your fingers through,” he says. “The benefit of keeping them short for the summer is that your dog stays cool and can enjoy swimming and playing in the grass without the risk of becoming matted.”
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However, a shortcut does not equal a shave. Completely removing the hair can expose your pet’s sensitive skin to harmful UV rays and other hazards, and if your pooch has a double coat, like a husky, do not clip the coat as it acts as an insulator against the heat.
Whatever the style, set your groomer up for success.
“We recommend bringing reference photos to any groomer so they can get an idea of what to expect for your dog’s haircut,” says Bedid.
Keep your dog clean between bathing sessions
To keep your dog smelling fresh between baths and grooming sessions, Bedid recommends “wiping them down on key areas,” including their paws and between their toes. You can use a damp washcloth or dog-specific wipes that contain nourishing and soothing natural ingredients like aloe vera. You can also consider dry shampoos. Bedid says deodorant sprays can do the job, but he recommends not using them too often as they can make your dog’s coat greasy.
Used between baths, the powder absorbs excess oils and leaves your dog’s coat smelling fresh and clean while giving it an extra boost of shine.
In summer or any time of the year, bath time can be an enjoyable experience, but it’s up to you, the dog’s parent, to make sure your pup is comfortable with it.
Related: Here’s the right way to use dry shampoo on your dog, according to a vet