The Importance of Grooming

Grooming is much more than a cosmetic chore. The American Kennel Club notes that a failure to groom dogs can cause pain and irreversible damage. Because guide dogs accompany their owners everywhere - including work, public transport, and buy city walks, specific areas need to be taken care of. These primarily include nail trimming, pest prevention, and fur care. The good news is that the breeds most often used as guide and service dogs (such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers) don’t have fussy grooming requirements and tend to enjoy many parts of grooming - especially brushing!

Keeping Nails Trim

Black lab pup getting out of a bath.When it comes to nails, keeping nail trimming sessions consistent is key. The longer you leave between trims, the longer the quick (which contains blood and nerves) can be allowed to grow out of control. It can then become impossible to cut nails short. Every dog has a different nail growth rate. Guide and service dogs that walk frequently on gravelly surfaces, for instance, my be fine with a trim every couple of weeks. Those that mainly stay indoors, on the other hand, will need more frequent attention. Remember that when nails are left too long, this can hamper your dog’s posture and cause pain. They can even develop poor traction or splayed paws.

Pest Prevention is Vital

Monthly flea and tick prevention is key for guide dogs who can be out and about all day. As a result, they can have a greater chance of picking up pests from grass, reeds, and other pets. Fleas that settle in the home can be very difficult to totally eradicate, since they can live for months and can be impossible to spot. This can lead to re-infestation of your guide dog. In addition to using a treatment, consider using a flea comb and bathing your dog as frequently as his physical activity needs require. As a minimum, consider a bath every two or three months.

Fur Should be Knot-Free

Keeping fur nice and tangle-free is important. Those with sight issues should use their hands to feel beneath their dog’s fur during grooming. This way, you can feel odd bumps or lumps while they are small, and take your dog to the vet to obtain a diagnosis and treatment. Often, lumps are simply fatty formations, but your vet will probably advise you to monitor the lump to ensure it is not growing too quickly or bothering your dog. Grooming your dog’s fur will also you to notice problems like hot spots, missing fur, etc. The issue may be an allergy or a skin infection, which may require more frequent bathing or other treatments.

Guide and service dogs have a special bond with their owners, who are very much in tune to their dogs needs. One need which should always be fulfilled, is that of regular grooming. Assistance dogs tend to enjoy lots of outside time, so ensuring their nails are short will guarantee comfort. Flea and tick treatments are equally important; they will allow you to enjoy days outside in grassy areas without worrying about your dog bringing unwanted pests home.

Authored by Karoline Gore.