• Hackles

Grooming Essentials For Dog Owners

In an ideal world we'd all be brushing our dog's coats on a regular basis to keep them knot and matt free. However, in reality, few of us actually get round to doing this regularly and when we do, we find the knots and matts tend to occur in awkward and sensitive parts of your dog's body, like armpits, tummys, legs and the groin area - invariably we give up because of our dog's protestations! Not leaving it till your dog's coat has begun to resemble bad taxidermy and having the right tools can make all the difference. Many of my clients show me the brushes they (claim to) use and in most cases they don't have the right tool for the job. The following are what I consider to be essential items for owners to help keep their best friend's coat in reasonable condition:

Flexible Slicker Brush - Forget bristle or pin brushes that are commonly available in pet shops, these are generally used for 'finishing', not brushing out knots. The flexible slicker is great for a wide variety of coats and is very effective at brushing out knots. They come in a several tensions - soft, medium and firm - for general purpose use I recommend the 'medium' brush. There are several makes, Groom Professional Flexible Slicker Brush and the Activet Pet Brush (Glitter Green) which are ideal for pet owners as they are reasonably priced - they must be use with care as they can easily pierce the skin.

Metal Comb: Often called Greyhound Combs, one half has wider teeth and the other half narrow teeth - a 'fine/coarse' comb will suit most coats. The metal comb should be used after brushing to make sure you have picked up all the knots.

Detangling Spray: If you're going to tackle those knots, then you need a detangle spray - it lubricates the hair shaft, making it easier to comb through. Most work best when used on a wet coat and then combed out when fully dry. If you don't want to bath your dog, spray the knot or matt, let it dry then tackle it. There are loads of detangling products on the market, but I can recommend Mist Magic, Wondercoat or Canter Mane & Tail for hardcore knots and matts!

Shampoo: The most common question I get asked by clients is what shampoo to use . . . not human or baby shampoo, or Fairy! Dog's have sensitive skin with a different pH to humans so you must use a proper dog shampoo. With so many shampoos on the market, it can be a real headache deciding what's best for you. As a groomer and complete product whore, I've tried loads and always end up coming back to Double K's Ultimate - it is a brilliant all round shampoo that cleans and conditions, and is suitable for a wide range of coats. It is uber concentrated so should last for ages. For really sensitive skins Double K Oatmella is also a great choice.

And that's all you really need (at a pinch you could get away with just the flexible slicker and detangling spray). It'll makes such a difference to your dog's experience at the groomer's, and of course your groomer will love you!

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