Grooming Tips for Summer Temps

by Elizabeth Fordham, Contributing Writer

Houston heat can be stifling, and the temptation is real to give Fido or Fifi a summer cut. Houston temperatures in 2018 climbed from monthly highs of a sweltering 95 degrees in June to a 99 blistering degrees in July and 98 degrees in August, according to Brian Tamplen, an electricity industry executive at Acclaim Energy. With high temperatures and high humidity as the backdrop, buzz cuts for canines may seem logical, but cutting a dog’s hair too short can do more harm than good.

“After spring, many dog owners request a summer shave for their pets,” according to Myriel Johnson, a professional pet stylist with 15 years of hands-on experience in the grooming industry and owner of EZ Home Pet Grooming. “The coat’s top layer actually keeps a dog cool and provides important protection from the sun. Cutting it too short can cause permanent damage. Dogs can’t properly insulate themselves during winter months if the coat is damaged from shaving.” 

Regular at-home grooming is highly beneficial between professional grooms, which Johnson recommends be conducted at least several times a year for all dogs and every four to eight weeks for long-hair dogs. 

Brushyour dog with an undercoat brush, slicker brush or fine-tooth comb, all readily available at pet stores and Amazon, to thin the coat, remove dirt and tangles, and spread natural oils throughout the coat. 

Bathe your pet with a gentle conditioning shampoo made for dogs. If a flea problem exists, rinse and repeat, letting the shampoo sit for five to ten minutes. Avoid dish liquid, which strips natural oils and causes skin irritation, and human shampoo, which disrupts the pH balance of your pet’s skin.  

Remove burrswith a slicker brush after bathing and drying your dog. 

Clip nails, which can be tricky. Avoid cutting too far back and nicking the quick, which causes pain and bleeding. Leave this to a professional groomer or your veterinarian if you’re uncomfortable clipping the nails. 

Check eyes and earsfor crustiness, discharge, tearing, earwax and dirt.

Look in the mouthfor broken teeth, red gums and divots on the tongue. A healthy mouth is moist and smooth. Dental care should include brushing regularly with a toothbrush and toothpaste created specifically for canines. 

Check for blood-thirsty fleas and flea dirt, which looks like specs of black pepper, feels grainy like sand and is found commonly on the tummy and the tail. And, of course, protect your pet with regular flea prevention, which some groomers will apply upon request if you provide the topical treatment. A monthly heartworm preventative is also imperative to protect from heartworm disease-carrying mosquitoes. 

Look for ticks and mosquito biteson the face, head, flanks and limbs, where they crawl through the fur and then latch onto the skin to suck blood. Mosquitos bites may cause a rash, swelling, redness or hives. 

By grooming gently, thoroughly and regularly, you’ll keep your dog clean, stay abreast of any changes and also strengthen your bond with your pet that provides unconditional love and companionship.