Reading the title one may think this article concerns washing our four-footed friends. Yes, and even more than that. The term "dog hygiene" includes all the procedures that maintain the animal's tidy appearance. These are cleaning eyes and ears, nail trimming (as needed), mouth care and, finally, hair care. In this new rubric I'll try to clue up about grooming our dogs.
Routine grooming is very important! According to the English veterinary Michael Findley's opinion, everyday combing and brushing removes dirt, dead particles of skin, loosened hairs and thus prevents matting. Using a comb you massage the dog's skin and thus contribute to providing strength and better feeding for the main hair.
If your dog is smooth-coated (Dane, Rottweiler or Dobermann) he usually doesn't have problems with hair. The only thing he needs is everyday thorough rubbing with a rough towel or a mitten. Twice a week clean the dog with a bristle brush. Clean with growth and against growth.
Long-coated breeds need more careful and laborious care.
First of all, use a special large-toothed comb with long and round in section blunt-pointed teeth. You can find such at any pet shop or market for a reasonable price.
Pay special attention to soft fur that is inclined to tangle - behind the ears, in the armpits and feet feathering. But you can't manage mats with a single comb. For undercoat you will need a springy wire brush. Use it very carefully, work only with the grains, avoid scratching the delicate skin. Don't be too diligent with this brush. It's enough to proceed once or twice a month. At more intensive use your pretty Collie or Newfoundland dog runs the risk of becoming bald!
It is quite another matter if the dog sheds. In this case daily usage of the comb and the wire brush is really necessary.
By the way, the molting season is the best time to wash the dog with shampoos. This will help get rid of the old dead hair quickly and will stimulate new fur to grow.
Do you know that out of combed fluffy undercoat of long-haired dogs one can make a perfect yard comparable with well-known mohair? Moreover, the dog's fur is famous for its' therapeutic effect - it helps with radiculitis and arthritis. For example, when molting, a Collie can give 500 to 800 g fluffy undercoat with perfect consumer characteristics!
The last category, I'd like to mention, consists of wire-coated dogs. This group includes numerous terriers and schnauzers. These dogs' coat is very harsh and almost non-shedding. Therefore natural molting should be substituted for hand plucking (stripping) according to certain breed-specific scheme twice a year. Neglecting this may have drastic consequences. Beside the dog looks like a wire brush, dead hairs that rest in the skin impede new fur to grow normally. The dog itches and scratches herself all the time. Through the sores the infection may get inside and when this happens, you won't escape from the very unpleasant skin disease that is very difficult to cure.
Clean the dog's coat with a bristle brush or a big massage pin brush every day. After each feeding wipe his splendid beard with a terry mitten or a towel and do combing. Otherwise the decorative hair that forms the beard and the eyebrows in terriers and schnauzers will get thin and the doggy will lose the main detail of his dress.
by Mikhail Tchervonny, Translated by Tatiana Karpova (Moscow)
(MSU, Biology faculture, Dep. zoology and ecology).