We've all fallen victim to a bad hair day at some point or another, but luckily for us it's only covering a small portion of our bodies. However when our pets have a bad hair day, not only is more like a bad hair week, it covers their entire body, not to mention they can't just jump in the shower and wash it away. It's our responsibility as pet owners to ensure that our pets coat stays lovely and healthy. A healthy coat will have a shine and indicates not only a healthy outside but inside as well. We often use coat condition to help ascertain an animals overall well being, dull, flat coats that often have a film or flaky skin, let us know that we might need to take a closer look at a pets day to day routine or health. When we adopt a dog, especially certain breeds, we are often bringing them into a climate or lifestyle that they weren't actually bred for, so the "they groom themselves in the wild" excuse just doesn't cut it. It's true that most pets will adopt a grooming routine for themselves, but a helping hand is often needed, especially during seasonal changes and throughout the ageing process.
Before we can adopt a grooming regime however, a closer look at what sort of coat your pet has and the individual needs of that type of coat is necessary. Below we list the different sorts for brushes that can be used for everyday grooming and why it is so important to maintain a healthy coat. Prior to proceeding, click here, to find out what sort of coat your pet has.
Too much undercoat or the presence of mats, is always going to have detrimental effect on your pets skin if left untreated. Fur is an excellent insulator! It's not only designed to keep pets warm in the winter, but also to keep them cool in the summer. If too much undercoat or mats are present during summer the air and heat get trapped between the fur and your pets skin, not only making them hotter but there's the likelihood of irritation as well. To prevent this from happening your pet sheds unnecessary undercoat, in the climates they were bred in/for this can be quite regulatory, however how many of our pets were actually bred for our weather. In Melbourne especially we all know that seasonal changes aren't exactly straight forward, so your pet will often need a helping hand to shed all that extra undercoat. For single coated pets if the fur is regularly brushed and free from tangles and mats, a seasonal groom to reduce the amount of coat, either by stripping out or cutting back, is entirely sufficient.
Reducing the amount of fur around the warmer season, especially around the feet and face, not only keeps your pet cool but also helps to stop grass seeds from being picked up on your pets daily walks and becoming embedded in the skin. It's a good idea to always run your fingers or hands over your pets body after a walk, to feel for any grass seeds or ticks (depending on location) paying particular attention to in between the toes, feet, face and undercarriage. A lot of owners will avoid stripping the undercoat or grooming through the winter, with the idea that their pets will get too cold if done. Removing the coat all together may certainly do this, but at any point throughout the year too much excess undercoat or mats, will most certainly be uncomfortable for your pet. Double coats are designed to shed any undercoat that isn't needed, so if you're seeing it poking through the guard coat, your pet's body doesn't need it! Single coats should still be clipped back through winter, to help prevent tangles and mats, they don't have to be cut too short, however if they are matted the coat will need to be cut as short as necessary and you might need to invest in a doggy coat!
No matter what sort of coat your pet has, mats should always be banished! Not only are mats uncomfortable, think of tying a cricket ball to your hair, they can also cause serious skin complications. Mats stop the air being able to circulate through the coat properly, often resulting in inflammation and if left skin infections. The matted fur will become thicker and thicker, often slowing spreading making the matt bigger. They stop the air being able to circulate properly, often resulting in inflammation and if left skin infections. Not to mention, as the fur mats, dirt and debris can often get stuck in them, meaning a dirty pet, parasites can also hide away in tangled and matted fur making them hard to spot! Typical areas where mats will often form include but are not limited to; behind the elbows, between the back legs and around the genitals, the belly and any areas where excessive chewing or scratching occurs. To avoid cutting the skin, mats should always be removed by a professional, be it a groomer, vet or nurse.
Some mats if caught early can be brushed out, break the mat apart with your fingers and then gently brush the fur until the brush slides through easily, do not attempt to brush out a mat by pulling heavily with the brush, this would be extremely uncomfortable for your pet. Tangles however can be brushed out without the need to break them apart priorly, gentle motions are advised are advised to make the process as comfortable for your pet as possible. As always daily to weekly brushing will help prevent the formation of mats and tangles, but what brush to use? Having identified the type of coat your pet has by clicking on the link earlier, find the image below that lists your pets coat type:
Slicker brushes are designed to help prevent and remove mats, they can be used as a regular brush or as an occasional addition to an everyday bristle or pin brush. They come in different forms for both smooth and coarse coats, and a variety of sizes. Picking an appropriate size and strength will make the task easier for both you and your pet. The amount of pressure applied should always be gentle.
For heavy coats, short haired coats and long haired cats it can be used in conjunction with a de-shedder, to smooth out and untangle to top coat.
For combination coats, silky coats, natural long-haired coats and wire coats is is best used as a regular grooming brush.
For curly/wavy coats it can be used as a regular grooming brush or in conjunction with a bristle or pin brush.
Rakes or De-Shedding Brushes are designed to penetrate the guard coat and pick up the dead undercoat, this is important to do to keep your pets fur well insulated so they can regulate their body temperature properly throughout all the seasons! The brush is comprised of one to two rows of tightly spaced pins, they work so well that minimal pressure is needed, too much pressure may hurt your pet.
For double coats and short haired cats this brush should be used regularly, particularly around seasonal changes, to smooth the coat after de-shedding and remove some of the loose guard coat use a rubber brush.
For short haired coats, heavy coats and long haired cats, use this brush as needed in conjunction with a slicker brush.
Rubber brushes should be used in conjunction with another brush to be of any benefit to your pet, with the exception of smooth coated breeds. A rubber brush is used to pick up and remove loose guard coat, however it is almost impossible to completely remove all loose guard coat. It is used to finish a brushing session, so should be used after either the de-shedder or bristle brush, it also helps pick up any stray undercoat that had been left on the guard coat.
For smooth coats, rubber brushes can be used as the sole brush, often enjoying the process pets can be brushed at your discretion.
For double coats, short coats, short-haired and long-haired cats this brush must be used in succession with another appropriate coat brush.
Bristle brushes are used in a similar capacity to rubber brushes, they are used in conjunction with another appropriate breed brush. However these brushes are less effective on cats coats and double coats. It's a brush that's really only appropriate for smooth coated, short coated or wavy coated breeds as the rush doesn't penetrate curly coats or thicker, coarser coats.
For smooth coats it can be used as a sole brush, only gentle pressure need be applied.
For short coats and wavy coats it should be used after brushing with a slicker brush or de-shedding brush.
Like the bristle and the rubber brush, pin brushes are not very effective when used on their own. They only pick up the loose guard coat, meaning undercoat is left un-brushed. In single coated breeds they can be useful in helping to prevent matting and tangles, but not if they are the sole brush being used. They are not good for long, coarse or thick coats.
For all coat types this brush should be used in conjunction with another breed appropriate brush.