- Grooming your dog keeps them cooler and more comfortable
- Brush and check paws for bugs, ticks and debris after woodland walks
- Keep you pooch looking and smelling fresh and your home will too
We all like to look our best in the summer and the same goes for our four-legged friends. Having a thorough grooming regime is also vital for dog's health – and can even help you to build a closer bond with your pet through all that one-on-one pampering time.
Once the days start getting longer, the first thing you should consider is taking your dog to the local canine beauty parlour.
'Groomers are really important for dog welfare,' says Dr. Roger Mugford, a vet and dog psychologist who trained the Queen’s Corgis, and the founder of The Company of Animals (@companyofanimal). 'They're the first to see any lumps, bumps or signs of over or under nutrition. A visit every three months is sensible to keep on top of their health all year round.'
In between grooms, there are six key areas to focus on to keep your pooch primped and in perfect health from paws to tail.
Some dogs love splashing about in the water, but if drops get trapped in their ears it can lead to infections. Make sure you always gently dry your dog's ears off inside and outside after a dip.
Longer haired breeds like Spaniels should have the shaggy hair on their ears trimmed when they go for a groom, which can trap bacteria and, if not cut regularly, cause infections.
When your dog is bounding through the meadows, they need to be able to see where they're going – so don't let their facial hair grow too long.
'It's fashionable for breeds like Shih Tzus to have lots of facial hair,' Dr. Mugford points out. 'But masses of hair is unhygienic over the eyes and mouth, and isn't natural. Keep it trimmed so your dog can see properly.'
It's vital to keep on top of your dog's dental regime, as periodontitis or gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other infections, not to mention stinky breath.
The Kennel Club recommends you brush your dog's teeth every day, just as you would your own, using a toothpaste and a toothbrush made for dogs.
During the summer months, your dog will need more water to stay hydrated, so always carry a bottle and a bowl with you when you're out and about so they can have a drink, and keep a supply in the car too.
We wouldn't like to walk round in a thick shaggy coat in the heat, so we shouldn't expect our dogs to, either. Having a good cut at the start of summer is vital, especially for long-haired breeds.
Help your dog shed dead hair and their winter coat with a good brush as well, especially after walking in woods or forests.
'Your dog having a shorter coat means you can better check for ticks, bugs, dirt and debris, and brushing can help you build a stronger bond with your dog too,' Dr. Tyson added.
Regular shampooing in the summer, with dog shampoo that’s kind to your dog's skin and eyes, makes them smell lovely as well. But don't use shampoo too regularly, as it can strip your pet's skin of natural oils.
Summer is always a favourite season for fleas, so you should also make sure that you regularly check your dog's fur. Flea shampoo will do most of the job, but you should still spend the time to search through your pet's coat with a flea comb.
For extra protection from fleas, you should regularly apply flea treatment to your dog. If your dog does get fleas, makes sure you treat your home as well.
You may also come across a tick when checking your dog's fur. Read our article on keeping your pet cool for information on how to tackle them.
Trimming the hair between paw pads means you can check for ticks, burrs and general dirt after a walk. It's also more pleasant for your dog if the hair is clipped away, and means less mud on your floors and furniture too.
'Hair between the paws can be a real problem for some breeds, such as Collies and Shelties,' explains Dr. Mugford. 'For them, walking on laminate or tiled flooring can be uncomfortable if their hair is too long.
'Trimming the hair between their pads is something to be done often so they can stand better,' Dr. Mugford continues. 'Trim as often as needed and check regularly for growth.'
More walks in the summer means there is a higher chance of your dog suffering an injury or cutting their paws on glass or wire. You should keep an eye on the walk routes you and your pet takes all year round, and make sure your pet insurance policy is up to date for peace of mind.
Dogs need to have their nails clipped regularly, but this is ideally a job for a professional.
'Most owners don't feel comfortable cutting their dog's claws so it's best to see a groomer,' says Dr. Mugford.
And did you know there are now pawdicures for pooches who fancy something extra special? Dog groomer Vicky Haywood offers the treat at her grooming parlour at Southend-On-Sea.
'I give them a paw massage with a treatment made of aloe vera and beeswax,' she explains. 'It's good for paw condition and really relaxing.' Sounds pretty pawsome to us!
Make regular visits to your vet and groomer throughout the year, but in the lead-up to the sunnier months, take extra care to make sure your pet is well groomed – not to mention exceptionally stylish – for the summer.
Follow Rachel Spencer (@rachspenwrites) for more dog-friendly tips and tweets.