The Ultimate Guide To Brushing Dog Hair Everything You Need To Know When It Comes To Brushing Your Dog's Hair

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Brushing your dog's hair is important not only for their appearance but also for their health. This in-depth article is the ultimate guide to brushing dog hair. When you know what type of brush to choose for your dog, how to introduce brushing, and the proper technique, it is much easier to incorporate this activity into your pet care routine.

The Ultimate Guide To Brushing Dog Hair

Regular brushing of your dog can keep their coat looking healthy and shiny and cuts down dramatically on the amount of dog hair that is shed and may be floating around your house. Read on for some simple tips on how to brush dog hair.

Choose the Right Brush for Your Dog

Before you begin, make sure you have the right brush or brushes to use on your dog. A slicker brush is a great universal brush for all dogs, but the type of hair that your dog has will determine the best brush for the job.

If your dog has a long coat, you will want to use a de-matting brush and a comb that has a wide-tooth side and a fine-tooth side.

If you have a short-haired dog, use a rubber brush.

Be sure to keep a de-shedding brush on hand to remove the undercoat.

Metal combs are great to keep if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. These combs make it much easier to remove dirt, bugs, and twigs from the coats of medium- to long-haired dogs in between brushings or after coming inside from outdoor play.

Introduce Brushing

It is best to begin brushing your dog at a young age. If your dog is still a puppy, it’s the perfect time to introduce brushing and show that it is an enjoyable activity. If you are starting to brush an older dog who may not be used to the experience, it’s even more important to introduce brushing in a positive way. Start slowly with just a short amount of time at first, gradually increasing the time spent brushing with each session. Remember to be patient as your dog adjusts to this new experience. Here are a few tips for introducing brushing to your dog:

  • Let your dog see and smell the brush before you use it

  • Keep lots of small treats nearby to use as a reward while you praise your dog as you brush them

  • Expect the first few brushing sessions to be short as your dog learns to get comfortable with the experience

  • Don’t be angry or aggressive if your dog tries to escape or get away from the brush; instead, give a firm “stay” command, and keep the brushing sessions short until your dog learns they are not scary

How to Brush Your Dog

Now that you have the correct brush and your dog is comfortable enough to let you brush them, you are ready for some tips on how to brush your dog.

  • Always brush in the direction of the hair growth

  • Start at the root of the hair to ensure you are not leaving mats

  • Be gentle, and don’t pull

  • Leave the head and tail for last

  • Don’t forget the legs and feet

How to Remove Matted Dog Hair

If your dog has mats, you will want to remove them as soon as you notice them. Matted hair not only looks bad but can cause health problems for your pooch as well. Mats in your dog’s coat can cause your pet a great deal of pain, as well as impede movement, cut off circulation, or cause irritation or skin infections.

  • Do not use scissors. Mats can be very painful and very close to your dog’s skin, and you don’t want to accidentally cut your dog with scissors.

  • Bathe your dog and comb the knots while they are still wet. It will be easier to detangle your dog’s hair while it is still wet. Do not let the mats dry before you get to them, or it will be more difficult to remove them. Do not rub your dog with a towel to dry them after the bath; this can make mats worse and cause more.

  • Spray detangling spray on the mat and let it soak in. Wait about five to ten minutes and then start combing.

  • Comb from the edges first. Start brushing out the mat from the edges, where the hair is less tangled.

  • Know when to call a professional. If you have tried all of the above tips and are considering reaching for scissors, call a groomer and schedule an appointment. They have more practice dealing with mats and may be able to help your dog.

Common places to find mats on dogs are areas of friction, such as under the collar, in the armpits, behind the ears, or on the lower legs, where the legs may rub together. If your dog sits often, they can even get mats in the spots where the fur is compacted.

Determine How Often Your Dog Needs to Be Brushed

After brushing your dog a few times, you will be able to tell how often they need to be brushed. If their coat looks especially tangled, you will need to brush your dog more often.

Long-haired dogs should be brushed every few days. You can decide if that is frequent enough for your furry friend. Long hair can get tangled and matted easily, so keep an eye on your dog’s coat for an indication that it’s time for a brush session.

Short-haired dogs can be brushed every week. Dogs with short hair don’t get mats or tangles very often, but regular brushing helps to remove loose hair and gives you an opportunity to bond with your dog.

Consider Brushing Your Dog to Be a Part of Their Health Care

When you brush your dog regularly, you are more likely to notice changes that can indicate health problems.

  • Is their coat drier or more oily than usual?

  • Is their coat matted or tangled?

  • Are there any lumps or cuts on their skin?

  • Do you see any ticks or fleas?

Becoming familiar with your dog’s hair and skin will allow you to recognize any changes quickly, so you can deal with the problem right away.

Although brushing your dog may be time-consuming in the beginning, once your dog is comfortable with the brush, it can be an enjoyable experience for both of you!

Hairballs in Dogs

Cats aren't the only furry friend we have to worry about getting hairballs—dogs can get hairballs too. Dogs that have longer coats or love to lick everything (you know the type) are at risk of developing hairballs, just like cats.

Why do dogs get hairballs?

While cats are known for constant grooming, dogs sometimes lick their fur, and dogs who are shedding may ingest large amounts of fur in their normal daily routines. Dogs with itchy skin or pests like fleas and ticks are more likely to chew and lick their fur and are, therefore, more vulnerable to getting hairballs. 

In general, any ingested fur passes through the digestive system. If there is too much fur, dogs may vomit up their hairballs and usually have no further problems. On rare occasions, hairballs can be a concern beyond dirtying your carpet. If the hairball becomes too large to pass through the intestines or cannot be coughed up, it can cause a blockage in the digestive system and begin to ferment. In some extreme cases, this may require surgical removal. 

Hairball warning signs

If you have a medium or long-haired dog, take note of increased licking and shedding as signs that hairballs may be on the way. Winter can trigger dry skin and irritation among dogs, so you may notice more licking during the colder months. If you notice your dog has been licking and chewing their fur, check for parasites and skin problems.

Frequent hairballs could be signs of a bigger, possibly digestive, problem since hair should be able to pass normally into the stool. It could also be a sign of boredom--if your dog has nothing to do but sit around and lick or chew their fur, it'll have more hairballs.

Many of the symptoms of a dangerous hairball (the kind that causes blockages) overlap with signs of other health concerns: lethargy, constipationdiarrhea, and loss of appetite. The only telling sign is if your dog has been gagging or trying to cough up unsuccessfully for some time.  

If unsuccessful heaving continues for 24 hours, you should contact your veterinarian. Laxatives may be prescribed to solve the problem, but in extreme cases, other options, such as surgery, may be considered to remove the obstruction before it causes other problems.

Tips to prevent hairballs

While you can't stop your dog from swallowing any fur, you can decrease the likelihood of bad hairballs.

  • Brush your dog often to reduce loose hair consumption. If you know your dog is shedding, double or triple your efforts, and use a damp cloth to wipe off extra loose hair after brushing. What's healthy for your dog will also save you time in vacuuming and lint rolling.

  • While originally created for cats, your veterinarian may recommend using hairball remedies or lubricants to help your dog digest hair easier.

  • Keep your dog protected from fleas and ticks with collars or spot-on treatments. If you notice a lot of licking and gnawing, check your dog for skin or fur problems.

  • During winter, when your dog's skin becomes dry and irritated, consider giving fewer baths, using moisturizing shampoos, or even oatmeal baths to reduce itching, gnawing, and licking.

  • Make sure your dog is getting enough water to stay well-hydrated and aid digestion.

  • Get your dog a new toy for entertainment and to distract them from chewing on its fur!

Hairballs don't have to be a big concern for dog owners. If you take a few preventative steps, you should avoid having to deal with hairball messes, and your dog will appreciate the extra grooming and attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you brush your dog's fur?

It is recommended to brush your dog's fur at least once a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting. However, the frequency of brushing may vary depending on the breed and length of the coat. Long-haired breeds may require daily brushing, while short-haired breeds may only need to be brushed a few times a month. Additionally, dogs that shed heavily may need to be brushed more frequently to control shedding. It's best to consult with your veterinarian or a professional groomer to determine the best grooming schedule for your dog.

Is it better to brush your dog's hair wet or dry?

It is generally recommended to brush a dog's hair when it is dry. Brushing a dog's wet hair can cause matting, tangling, and damage to the hair shaft. Additionally, wet hair may be more delicate and more prone to breakage. However, if a dog has a particularly dirty or matted coat, it may be necessary to bathe the dog before brushing. In this case, using a detangling shampoo and conditioner is best to brush the coat thoroughly while it is still wet, using a wide-toothed comb or slicker brush. Once the coat is detangled, it should be rinsed thoroughly and allowed to dry completely before brushing again.

What are the 7 steps of grooming a dog?

Grooming a dog typically involves several steps. The first step is brushing and combing the dog's coat to remove any tangles or mats and to distribute oils throughout the coat. The next step is bathing the dog with a dog-specific shampoo to clean the coat and skin. After that, trimming and clipping the coat to a desired length or shape is done. Ear cleaning is also an important step to remove any wax or debris. Nail trimming is also necessary to prevent them from growing too long and causing discomfort. Teeth cleaning is also important to prevent plaque and tartar buildup and maintain good oral health. The last step, if necessary, is expressing the dog's anal glands, which can become impacted and uncomfortable if not properly emptied. It's important to note that not all dogs require all of the steps listed above, and the frequency and specific grooming methods will vary depending on the breed and individual dog.

Do dogs feel better after being brushed?

Many dogs do feel better after being brushed as it can help to remove loose hair, dirt, and debris and can also help to distribute oils throughout the coat, which can improve the condition of the skin and coat. Brushing stimulates blood flow and can release endorphins, which can help to relax and calm the dog. Brushing also helps to remove mats and tangles, which can cause discomfort and pain if left untreated. Additionally, regular grooming can help to strengthen the bond between the dog and its owner, as it provides an opportunity for interaction and affection. However, some dogs may not enjoy being brushed, particularly if they have sensitive skin or have not been groomed regularly. They may need to be introduced to the process gradually.

How do groomers keep dogs still?

Grooming can be a stressful experience for dogs, especially if they are not used to it. Groomers often use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and praise to keep dogs calm and focused. They may gradually familiarize dogs with the grooming process by introducing them to the equipment and tools and allowing them to sniff and explore the grooming area before starting the grooming process. Groomers may also use restraint techniques such as holding the dog still, using a grooming table, or holding the dog with a noose to keep them in place and prevent them from moving around during the grooming process. Additionally, groomers may use distractions such as toys or treats to keep the dog focused on something other than the grooming process.

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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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