Keeping your senior dog's coat soft and shiny isn't just about keeping him looking great. Your dog's coat and skin are his first line of defense against enemies such as wetness, cold and fleas. And, while younger dogs love running around and exploring the world around them, your older dog simply doesn't have the energy for such pursuits. The attention, care and closeness that regular grooming sessions provide, can energize, stimulate and reassure your old friend.
Grooming for Health and Well-Being
Your senior dog's circulation and muscle tone just aren't what they used to be. And his older coat and skin can't revive themselves like they used to. You can make up for the decrease in these functions with a regular grooming routine. What's more, you can use these sessions as a means to check your dog from tip to tail for bumps or changes in skin condition.
The Tools of the Trade
The first step to keeping your dog's coat looking it's furry best? Set aside 15 minutes a day (or week, depending on his coat) for a grooming session with the proper tools. You'll need a brush and flea comb that suits the length and type of your dog's coat. If you're not sure about the kind of tools you need, check with a groomer or your vet, or read the labels on the brushes at your local pet supply store. Get your dog used to the tools slowly and use gentle pressure. Chances are grooming will feel just like petting, and he'll be content to sit quietly during the session.
To Bathe or Not to Bathe
Frequency of bathing depends on your dog's activity level and lifestyle. Most dogs don't need a bath more than once a month. Some dogs tend to be a little greasier or love rolling in mud and other dirty stuff - so they'll need to be bathed more frequently. If you're not sure about how often you should bathe your dog, ask an experienced groomer.
When you bathe your older dog:
- Do use warm water in a warm room. Cold will dry out your dog's skin and might give him a chill.
- Do use mild shampoo that is specially formulated for dogs. Never use shampoos that aren't designed for use on dogs - they could cause an allergic reaction.
- Do use thick, absorbent towels instead of a blow dryer. If you must use a blow dryer, put in on the lowest setting and be aware of how hot your dog is getting.
A Glowing Coat = A Healthy Dog
It's important to remember that your dog's coat acts like a window to his inner health. If your dog's coat has been looking dull, even after proper grooming, you should take him in for a checkup. A lackluster coat can be caused by certain illnesses, metabolic diseases, by internal parasites or by worm infestations.
If your vet has determined that your dog is healthy, speak with her about adding some safflower oil to your dog's diet. If your dog is less than 50 pounds, you can try mixing one teaspoon of oil per day into his regular food, or try adding a tablespoon a day if your dog is 50 pounds or more.