The general condition of your dog's skin and coat are good indicators of its health. Although health and nutrition influence the luster and texture of your pet's coat from the inside, regular grooming and skin care on the outside will help keep your dog's coat clean and free of tangles, no matter what type of hair coat he or she has.
Selective breeding has led to the development of dogs with a myriad of different coat characteristics and different grooming needs. Some breeds have hair that grows continuously and does not shed. These breeds of dog require regular trips to the 'doggy salon' for a shampoo and cut. Breeds such as huskies, malamutes, and many retrievers have long, thick hair coats with both an outer coat of 'guard hairs' and an undercoat of fine hair that serves as an insulating layer. These breeds often go through two heavy seasonal shedding cycles per year (late spring and late fall), during which much of the undercoat falls out in clumps. Many short-haired breeds lack a distinctive undercoat, and these breeds often shed hair in low levels all year round.
All dogs benefit from regular brushing to remove loose hairs and dead skin cells, to keep the coat free of dirt, debris, and external parasites, and to distribute natural skin oils along the hair shafts. Dogs with long, silky or curly coats require daily brushing to keep their hair from becoming tangled or matted, especially around the ears, in the armpits, or along the back of the legs. Dogs with short hair coats may require less frequent brushing. However, daily brushing of any dog that sheds will cut down dramatically on the amount of loose hair and pet dander floating around the home, and will also cut down on the amount of hair that the dog swallows in the course of self-grooming with its tongue.
Regardless of the type of hair coat, you should inspect your dog's coat every day to make sure there are no tangles or clumps that have developed under the armpits, in the groin, or behind the ears. After a romp through the grass or in the woods, it is a good idea to look for burrs or grass awns that might have become trapped in the coat and could potentially cause irritation.
If you regularly check your dog's coat and skin, you will also have a better chance of detecting any unusual lumps, bumps, or areas of sensitivity on your dog's body at an early stage.
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