Q. My friends tell me I need to take my doodle to the groomer. I like his fluffy fur and I enjoy brushing him. So what is the problem?
A. I have a friend with a Bernedoodle. She said she will never have him clipped. He has long fur and she brushes him every day. If she misses a day, he starts to mat. She did decide to have the groomer clip some around his eyes and his feet. If you are willing to put in the work, keeping your dog’s flowing locks is fine, but you do need to make the commitment.
When deciding on a breed for your family, besides size, temperament, exercise needs, and health concerns, time spent grooming your new family member is a must. Many families are too busy to groom a dog every day, and not every breed needs that level of care. Going to a professional groomer you trust on a regular basis is the solution.
Having your dog groomed, either by a professional or by you, is more than having a pretty pup. Besides early detection of potential problems, many health issues are prevented.
Let’s start with the feet. Some dogs have long fur growing between the toes and pads. They look like Grinch’s feet. This may be cute, but if you have an active dog, this fur can trap dirt, plant material, and gravel. All of which can cause irritation, sores, and pain. Long fur between the pads could end in slipping on smooth surfaces. They are unable to use their pads affectively to grip. Slipping can result in sprains, strains, or worse. He may develop a fear of smooth floors. Toenails are another concern if not kept short. Long nails can break, which is painful.
Long fur needs to be brushed thoroughly and often. Not just the top fur but you need to brush all the way down to the skin. Mats start with the undercoat getting tangled as the old falls out and the new is growing in. Untreated mats can be a source of eczema lesions called hot spots. Grooming your pup will alert you to changes in his health. You can detect infections, parasites, and wounds that may easily be missed.
Long fur can create problems in an area it covers if not well maintained. Heavy bangs over the eyes may be cute but interferes with seeing. Fur can get caught in the eyes creating irritation and sometimes infections. The anus is the other area of concern. This area needs to be kept clean from feces. If not, the feces can collect in the fur and build a mat over the anus. When the dog defecates, the feces can’t come out and forms a large mass of poop and fur. This condition is called anal pasted. This is extremely painful and can be serious if not treated. Trimming the fur away from the anus solves the problem.
The question to pluck fur out of the ears or not has been debated. Currently, when the ears are clean and smell good, no plucking is needed. If the ears are full of debris, which leads to infection, plucking, cleaning, and treating the ears are indicated. Go to your veterinarian who will sedate your dog if necessary to treat and medicate the ears. These ears will need to be watched and maintained.
We used to be told not to bathe our dogs very often because bathing will strip the natural oils from the coat and skin. Before, we used detergent to wash our dogs. Now we have detergent free shampoos. If your best friend has a skin condition, you may need to bathe him often.
You can groom your dog the way you want him to look, but keep in mind, he needs to be clean and neat to stay healthy.
Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH
Animal Wellness Center
Augusta, ME 04330