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Dogs are gorgeous creatures, they're loyal, good natured and wonderful companions that keep their owners healthy, fit and entertained. Making sure they are well cared for, means giving them a well balanced diet to suit their needs and taking them to the vet for their annual boosters and general health checks to make sure they are happy and healthy. Then of course, there's all those lovely walks whether in a park, down the road or through the woods where they can run and explore all those wonderful different smells.
However, another aspect of looking after our canine friends is keeping their coats looking smart. Regular grooming not only keeps your best friend looking brilliant but it helps owners bond with their pooches. You don't have to spend hours grooming them every day, but a few minutes will go down a treat. Obviously, after a long walk in the woods, checking your dog over is really important so you can check they haven't picked up any burrs in their paws, ears or coats. Grass-seeds too can cause a nasty infection, so grooming your pet when you get home means reducing the risks of this happening.
Not only will regular grooming keep your dog's coat tangle-free and reduce the risk of long hairs becoming matted, but it also allows you to see if they have got any cuts or abrasions on their bodies. You should pay particular attention to their paws and especially their dew claws if they have them. You may find your pet has a little too much fur between their pads which gets all muddy and where ice balls form in the winter. You should remove the excess fur to prevent this from happening, and it reduces the chances of your dog going lame.
The other important aspect of grooming your dog regularly is that you can keep an eye on any parasites they may have picked up. All dogs will pick up a flea or even a tick from time to time, especially if you take them for walks in the woods where deer are often found. If you catch a flea problem early, the more comfortable your dog will be and the easier it is to treat.
Grooming your pet means you get to see if there's any flea dirt in their coats. You can check if it is from fleas by placing a little of it on a damp tissue, if the dirt turns red – then your dog has picked up a flea – or two! You would need to treat the problem straight away, because if you don't, you'll end up with a flea infestation which is a very uncomfortable and unhealthy condition for your beloved pooch to have to put up with. On top of this, your house will also run the risk of being infested with fleas, and this means wooden floors, carpets, rugs and furniture being full of fleas and their eggs!
The good news is these days, there are many great flea products and treatments on the market whether you source them from your vet or reputable pet shops. The rule of thumb is to always follow all the instructions on how to use the product before you put it on your pet. However, if you have got a flea infestation in the house as well, you would need to get another type of flea product which you should never use on your dog.
Some of the safest flea treatment products around for use on dogs are Frontline which is a spray and Program which is an oral treatment. These are safer to use if you have children in the house who may hug your pet after they've been treated, something you have to bear in mind. However, you can only get them through your vet. You should be very careful of flea treatments found online or at markets – if you are not sure, the best thing to do is leave them well alone. It is far safer to buy flea and tick treatments from reputable pet shops or your vet, even if they cost a little more.
Dogs can pick ticks up if they've been for walks in the countryside. Wildlife, sheep and deer all carry ticks which is why your pet might get one on them too. Dogs with heavier coats tend to be more affected by ticks because these nasty parasites are harder to spot on their coats.
Should you find a tick, you need to take it off them as safely as you can and as quickly as you can without leaving the ticks head in your dog's skin. These nasty blood sucking parasites carry a very serious illness called Lyme Disease, with some regions of the country being affected worse than others so important to first check your dog over if they've been out and about where there might be tick carriers and secondly, you need to remove them safely without squeezing the ticks body.
The reason you need to avoid squeezing their bodies, is this may cause a tick to regurgitate some fluid which increases the chances of them transferring Lyme Disease to your pet. To remove a tick safely, you have to grip them as close to your dog's skin as possible and preferably with a pair of tweezers specifically designed for the removal of ticks. Once you have a good grip on the tick, you need to pull and twist so they come out of the skin cleanly, head included. It's a good idea to dab some kind of mild antiseptic where they tick was attached and then wash your hands thoroughly after having disposed of the tick by burning it.
Another condition that has to be taken seriously is Fox mange which is caused by tiny sarcoptic mange mites. These nasty creatures burrow under a dog's skin which means the condition is extremely difficult to treat except with powerful products from your vet. Signs to watch out for when grooming are areas of skin that are red and flaking, and if you spot any you need to get to the vet straight away and start a treatment.
Grooming your dog is a great way to form a strong bond with them and at the same time keep an eye out for any parasites they may have picked up on one of those lovely long walks you took them on. Not only will your pooch look great but they will be in fine fettle too, free of fleas, ticks and any other nasty parasites that can make a dogs' life feel so uncomfortable.
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