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Puppy getting its nails clipped.

It’s finally springtime, and if you’re not in a grooming routine already, spring is a great time to start.

While spring cleaning is a great reminder to groom your dogs, Tammy Myers, AKC S.A.F.E. Certified Salon Owner at Bark’n Bubble Day Spa, emphasizes that dogs need to be groomed all year long. Before heading to the groomers, here are some important spring (and year-round) grooming tips.

How Often to Brush Your Dog

After a long winter, dogs with thick winter coats will begin shedding. Jacki Panzik, owner of Riverside Pet Grooming (also an AKC S.A.F.E. Certified Salon) says it’s important to regularly brush your dog because it removes the dead coat and keeps circulation on the outer layer of skin, which promotes health.

Myers suggests brushing dogs daily. “Because they get dirt embedded underneath and mats cause pain,” said Myers. “It’d be like if you had long hair and kept your hair in a ponytail the whole time. Your head starts to hurt. It’s uncomfortable, it’s painful to them, and they can’t express the pain like we can as humans.”

If your dog isn’t brushed or combed regularly, he may become more sensitive to touch. The dog may start growling and cower when people try to pet them. “That’s why brushing a dog is important — to make their skin healthy, making sure their hair isn’t matted,” Myers adds.

You may also want to comb your dog instead of brushing him. Oftentimes, brushes bought over the counter don’t have long enough bristles, especially if a dog has long hair. There are plenty of brushing products available in the AKC Shop to help make regular grooming a habit.

How Often to Bathe Your Dog

Like with brushing, it’s important to regularly bathe your pet, particularly during the spring. Panzik says grooming is especially important in the spring because pollen and other allergens are most active during this time. “Especially in areas that had a lot of winter moisture,” she says.

She recommends bathing dogs every 21 days because that’s the cycle of skin rejuvenation. Myers agrees that dogs need to be bathed regularly. “They need baths at least monthly, no more than eight weeks,” Myers says. “Dogs have to live with themselves… trust me, dogs like having it done. They feel better.”

Before giving a dog a bath, you should ensure they are recently brushed to remove dead hair and mats. If a dog is bathed with mats, it only makes their hair tighter and harder to brush out.

We recommend using products like Hypoallergenic Shampoo and Rinse Out Conditioner to make bathtime easier for you and the dog.

How to Clip a Dog’s Toenails

Myers says she tries to put things into real life terms with her clients and says when a dog owner clips their nails, they should also clip their dogs’ nails.

She explains that when a dog’s nails aren’t clipped, they get uncomfortable and it hurts to walk. “Even if it’s not a ‘hair cut’ dog, [clipping toenails] is something that needs to be done for all dogs,” she says.

Additionally, there is a common misconception that there are arteries in dogs’ nails. If a nail is cut too short, it is actually just the “kwip” and there are powders to help stop the bleeding.

For those who are too nervous to cut their dogs’ nails, we recommend a nail filer to maintain nails in between visits to a groomer.

Questions To Ask Your Groomer

When you take your dog to the groomer, it’s important to find a qualified groomer that takes dog safety seriously. Here are some questions dog owners should consider asking their groomers.

What is your experience and what kind of training do you have?

You should know what type of training the groomer has before trusting them to groom your dog. Any salon or groomer you take your dog to should have a certification such as the AKC S.A.F.E. Grooming Certification Program.

“My salon was the first salon in the state of Iowa to do the AKC S.A.F.E Grooming Certification Program,” Myers says. “It’s a safety program. We have a 16-point oath that we have to take… My clients know that I have that and know that safety is the most important thing to me.”

She adds that while hair grows back, cuts don’t. “Injuries can be deadly, so safety is the utmost importance.”

What safety protocols do you follow?

Myers and Panzik agree that the most important questions are about safety protocols and training. Educated groomers know how to keep your dog safe and keep an eye out for things that aren’t quite right with your dog.

“Grooming is more than a haircut,” Myers said. “We are the first eyes a lot of the time… We notice personality changes, we notice skin changes, we can sense that there are ear issues before they become a big problem. That’s why grooming is so important.”

Find more questions to ask a potential groomer here. To learn more about salon safety, check out the AKC S.A.F.E. Grooming Program. You can take the AKC Safety in the Salon course online at the AKC Canine College.

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