A Go-To Guide For Getting Your Groom On

When your pooch is due for a little pampering, are you in-the-know about what he needs and how often he needs it? Keeping your furry friend, well, not crazy furry, can be time-consuming and even a little confusing.

We strive to make your life with Scout simple, so we tapped Linda Olson of Zoom Groom, an Edina-based “spa for paws,” about the ins and outs of keeping your pet fresh. And when the time comes to find a reputable, reliable groomer (we think that’s right after reading this!), run on over to our directory to find your new favorite place to un-funk Fido.

Why maintain a regular grooming schedule?
People bathe and brush their hair on a daily basis as well as clip their nails and clean their ears regularly, so why should we not do the same for our pups? All dogs need regular grooming.

What key areas should be cared for and how often?
Nails: Dogs’ nails grow rapidly, and if they get too long, walking can hurt their joints. A good rule of thumb is to trim when your dog’s nails touch the floor. After the initial trim, nails should be clipped every two to three weeks depending on need.

Teeth: Teeth can collect plaque, which can lead to heart disease, foul breath, and pain. Brush your pup’s teeth daily with a toothbrush and toothpaste (confirm both are certified for dog use).

Coat: Take a sniff — does your buddy smell a little stinky? Or maybe he’s shedding like it’s going out of style? These are signs his coat is in need of a wash. Baths and haircuts should be given every four to 12 weeks depending on breed (more on that later). Brushing daily or a few times a week can help prevent matting and skin problems.

Ears: Gently wipe out your pooch’s ears at least once a week with a cotton ball and an ear cleaner to keep debris from collecting and causing infection.

What should dog lovers look for in a well-rounded professional grooming package?
Most grooming checklists should include nail trimming, ear cleaning, a bath, and a haircut (if needed). Some optional but recommended add-ons: teeth brushing (it can be easier for a professional to really get them sparkling) and anal gland expression (trust us, you want the professionals to take care of that one!).

How often should a trip to the groomer happen?
Shorthaired breeds (such as beagles, pugs, and Doberman pinschers) should be groomed every six to 12 weeks to maintain a healthy coat.

Longhaired breeds (such as golden retrievers, Yorkies, and English setters) need to be groomed every four to eight weeks, depending on the length you keep their coat.

How do the seasons affect grooming?
Hair-bearing breeds (like poodles, cocker spaniels, and Shih Tzus) should be groomed throughout the year as their hair grows continuously. In the summer, grooming keeps them cool and their coat healthy. Watch for matting in the winter.

Fur-bearing breeds (like Alaskan malamutes, German shepherds, and Pomeranians) should be “de-shed” during their peak shedding periods in the spring and fall. They should be bathed regularly to prevent that one-inch layer of fur throughout your home.

What can a dog lover learn about a pooch’s health from her coat?
A lot! If a dog is unhealthy, they could have patches of hair missing; dry, flaky skin; red, itching spots; balding; hot spots; rashes; and more. Many of these signs are symptoms of allergies, so speak to your veterinarian if any of these signs are present. Regular grooming and a healthy diet are great preventative measures.

What about dogs with coat/skin sensitivities and allergies?
Use hypoallergenic shampoo for dogs with sensitivities. Again, regular grooming will help keep the coat clean and free of any debris they could be allergic to (rock salt in the winter, grass mold and pollen in the spring, trees in the summer, etc.). Feeding your pet a high-quality diet is important as well; low-quality food can contribute to skin problems. These are great ways to ensure the health of your best buddy.

—Blair Shackle

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