Keeping Track Of The Healthy Dog

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Keeping Track Of The Healthy Dog

by Michael Russell

Grooming the dog involves more than just a quick brushing. It should involve every aspect of the dogs coat and skin and should include the regular cleaning of the teeth, the ears and the feet, including trimming the nails.

For the long coated breeds, there should be a brushing clear to the skin at least once weekly. This requires a process known as line -combing, where the hair is actually parted and combed. When this is done regularly, any problems which crop up such as flea bites or hot spots can be recognized before they go too far. For short coated breeds, the brushing needs to include an inspection of the skin also and often this is more difficult because it is impossible to "part the hair" and see down to the skin. However generally just feeling the skin under the coat will work in most cases. Any fleas or ticks can be noted and precautions taken if this type of grooming is done regularly. The best prevention for fleas and ticks, despite the many advertisements for the liquids, which are placed on the top of the back, is still probably just the good old-fashioned flea powder or flea collar, for the reason that these products are flea repellents. The other products do not repel the bugs, only kill them after they bite! As for the ears, they are often the most problematic area for many dogs, especially those with lop over or hound ears. Often moisture gets into the ear and never has a chance to dry out, fungal infections develop and without treatment they do not clear up. Treatment consists of thorough cleaning daily, plus the addition of a medication to stop yeast infections. Baby wipes work very well for cleaning the ear. Cotton swabs (Q-tips) should not be used; however, cotton balls soaked in an antiseptic solution are fine. Sometimes there are ear mites present and of course, in that case a mite killing medication is necessary. Even the dogs with prick ears can suffer with problems, especially fly bites. Fly bites are most prevalent on dogs who are kept outside in the summertime. Fly bites can be avoided by keeping the food area clean so as not to attract flies, also picking up stool. One of the best preventions of fly bites is to keep a fan if possible in the area, which blows right in to the water and food area. Flies will not land when there is a good breeze.

Another problem which should be checked during grooming is the feet. Care of the feet includes cleaning out possible cockle burrs between the hair of the toes of the longer coated breeds. In the western and Midwestern states of the United States, a regular inspection for and removal of foxtail is extremely important, for these seed heads can burrow into the skin and even the internal organs of the dog. There is also a condition similar to athlete's foot in the human, which can develop between the toes in dogs. This will appear as raw red skin between the toes and is best treated with the same sort of foot powders that people use.

If you make it a practice to check regularly on the condition of your dog through grooming, you will also provide a time for you and your dog to bond more closely together. Furthermore, you just might save on your vet bill in the long run.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Dog Training

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