Now imagine someone forced you to wear several sweaters whenever you had a skin flare-up and you’ll know what it’s like for your dog. Beyond the skeleton, a dog’s skin and hair protect his internal organs from damage and infection-causing bacteria.
On top of that, hair protects the skin from his environment and serves as the primary defense against bacterial bad guys. Skin is very variable and can inflame, thicken, and agitate itself to stimulate immune system activities and keep infections from getting inside the body. By checking your dog’s skin regularly and paying attention to things like continuous scratching, biting, and pawing, you can ensure that his first line of defense stays in top battle condition.
It drives me nuts that I have to keep giving him baths. So quit bathing him! He’s trying to clean himself. Rolling in the dirt is also called “dry bathing” and is one of the ways your buddy makes sure he’s squeaky clean, even in those hard-to-reach areas. Dry bathing helps him get pieces of dirt and debris loose when he can’t get at them with his paws or mouth. It also stimulates the sebaceous glands, which emit oil to waterproof the skin and hair. If you want to bathe Max once a month, go right ahead.
It’ll help him in his quest for cleanliness. Also pick up the necessary tools for brushing and grooming his coat and pretty up that pooch! What about those little feet beards my dog has? You know, the hair between the pads on the bottom of his feet? Those little “feet beards” keep dirt and smaller particles from working their way into the skin. Things like grass seeds can get easily get under your pup’s skin and create inflammation or even cysts, so his feet beards are important in keeping him healthy.
The fur between his pads should be of a reasonable length, but don’t try to determine what is reasonable on your own. Talk to your vet or a professional groomer about the proper way to trim his foxtails or, if your dog tends to squirm, just ask the groomer to handle the dirty work for you. What’s the correct way to clean my dog’s ears? This is especially important to owners with large-eared dogs like weimaraners, cocker spaniels, and Bassett hounds.
While a little ear wax is fine and helps protect the inner workings of his ears, excess ear wax can indicate or lead to infection and should be treated. This balance can be tricky because of the composition of dog’s ears. Rather than having one canal directly into the ear, pups actually have two that form a right angle. While the first may be fresh and clean, the second can retain moisture and form wax. Ask your vet’s support staff for an ear wax remover and wipe the outer portion of your dog’s ear with a cotton ball. Do not insert the cotton ball into his ear canal.
Keep checking his ears - if the wax returns with a vengeance before the week is out, schedule a check-up with your veterinarian. If your pup is wirehaired (Yorkshire terriers, poodles, shih tzus, etc.), he probably has ear hair to rival your Uncle Frank’s. While it’s a built-in defense against infection, loose hair falling into the canal can actually cause infection itself and should be removed. This is way easier than plucking Uncle Frank. Grasp your dog’s ear hair loosely between forefinger and thumb, then pull lightly. A few strands should come out easily and painlessly.
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