The very first thing a lot of people will notice about your Labrador is not their behavior, athleticism, or anything else but their coat and nails.
This is because the Labrador is a very friendly breed, one that will always approach people if they are used or trained to be friendly to others. That is why people will first look at – especially experienced fur parents and veterinarians – their coat first.
How nice the coat looks is a telltale sign of how well taken care of the Labrador is. If your Labrador’s coat looks dull, dry, and clumpy, then many will think you’re not taking care of your dog.
Knowing how to groom a Labrador is a basic skill that many fur parents should have, as taking them to the groomers every month would be very expensive. At least being aware of the basics is one of the few needs of a good fur parent.
However, many people mistake grooming to be just a simple bath and brushing, and fail to ignore everything else. Some don’t even bother to brush or simply just ignore their Labrador’s skin, one of the body parts that will show any first signs of illnesses. But worry no longer, as you’ve come to the right place!
Grooming your dog can be meticulous especially because you have a lot of ground to cover, and this is going to be tiring if you’re not already used to it or are meticulous with your own body.
However, there are tools to help make the job much easier for you, and these tools are considered quite essential when grooming your Labrador.
Obviously, you’re going to need a bathtub for your Labrador to be able to dip into and help you conserve water. Aside from a bathtub, it would be helpful to have a table ready so you can just stand or sit when drying and brushing your Labrador. This will prevent you from having to constantly bend over and hurt your back in the long run.
The next few things you’re going to need for your dog’s coat or fur are namely a wide-tooth metal comb, a hair brush, a good-quality dog shampoo, a large towel or a couple of small towels, a cool hair dryer, and a couple of sharp scissors. These are meant to help your dog’s coat shine and lessen the shedding without hurting your dog.
The next couple of tools you’ll need are just as essential as for your dog’s coat. You will need a nail grinder, some dental wipes or a canine toothbrush and toothpaste, and veterinary-grade ear cleaning solution.
These will all help your dog look spick-and-span and approachable to strangers. Take note that the toothbrush and toothpaste must be made for dogs alone, as ingredients in human toothpaste can be toxic when swallowed.
Skin Care is the Best Care
Your Labrador’s coat is easily one of the most important things you have to constantly maintain, as it is the layer that gets quickly exposed to dust and dirt and tends to have a build-up of it.
For dogs that enjoy the outdoors, it is recommended to bathe them at least once every week or every two weeks to remove any excess dirt.
For Labradors that are used to the confines of indoor living, they may be given a bath once every four to six weeks, as they’re not constantly exposed to dirt.
For competing dogs, it is recommended that they be given a bath four to five days prior to the day of competition, so their coat wouldn’t look dry or dull.
Get Their Nails Done
Getting your Labrador’s nails done is as important as getting your own nails done, as keeping them short will prevent any undue injury or harm to your dog.
This also benefits you in the sense that if they love to cuddle with you and touch you with their paw, their short nails won’t dig into your skin and possibly wound or hurt you.
The area between the toes needs to be trimmed of hair as well, as this can be a cause for them to slip on, especially slippery floors. Though be careful when trimming with scissors, as this area is where some dogs can be very ticklish. Using nail clippers is also no longer recommended as they can be injurious to your dog if you cut too short. Instead, nail grinders are now preferred as they do a better job of keeping the nails dull.
Typical Regular Grooming Routine
Having a grooming routine is essential because a step-by-step process will allow you to give your Labrador the best care possible. Below is a very typical grooming routine that many fur parents use. You can modify the routine by adding some stuff in between, as this is just a general outline.
The first and most important thing you should do before giving your Labrador the full grooming is inspect its coat and skin.
On its coat, look for any clumps of hair or especially noticeable dry patches of hair. These areas are what deserve special attention when brushing your Labrador’s fur.
After you’ve done an inspection of its coat, you should now look beneath it and inspect your Labrador’s skin thoroughly. Any red patches, bite marks, wounds, or growth should already be a cause for concern.
There are many reasons why these could appear, and it is best to consult your veterinarian to get a proper diagnosis and buy the appropriate medication.
Brushing before and after bathing is essential to keep your Labrador’s fur from clumping.
Fur clumps can be very hard to deal with and very annoying when actually bathing your dog. These clumps are also a breeding ground for bacteria and even some parasites, so always brush your Labrador’s hair before and after giving them a bath.
As already mentioned, you don’t need to give your Labrador a bath every day, as doing so will only dry out their skin.
Dry skin for a Labrador is not healthy as it is more prone to infection and wounding, and also affects the shine of their coat.
Bathing is typically only done when your dog is visibly dirty, but should normally not be more often than once a week.
Bathing your Labrador is usually done with warm water to prevent hypothermia, but some dog shampoos would not specify it. It is best to use your dog shampoo according to the instructions at the back of the bottle, so your Labrador will be thoroughly cleaned and you can get the best value out of your shampoo.
Cleaning the Eyes
Labradors are normally teary-eyed dogs, and if their tears dry on or around their eyelids, there tends to be a mucus buildup.
This buildup can look very nasty and harmful for your Labrador as this can hold a lot of bacteria, so make sure to remove it before your dog contracts an eye infection. You can easily remove it with some cotton balls moistened with saline or some pet-friendly wipes.
Cleaning the Ears
Cleaning the ears is essential for your dogs to prevent any wax buildup and ear infections. The outer areas are easy to clean as you can simply wipe them with a cotton ball or some q tips dipped in veterinary-grade ear cleaning solution. This will remove any wax buildup that can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.
Clipping your dog’s nails is no longer recommended because of how you can easily injure your Labrador. Using a nail grinder is much safer as this will allow you to easily see how short your Labrador’s nails are. You also shouldn’t be cutting your dog’s nails often, as the growth is very slow compared to human nails.
You should first get your dog used to the sound of the nail grinder or else they will run away or panic. You can do this by turning it on and off around them and letting them sniff it while it is on. This can help them remove their fear of the new sound.
There are many ways you can deal with your Labrador’s dental hygiene. The easiest way is to use dental wipes to keep their teeth clean. If you want their breath to smell better, use a toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs, as these will not be toxic in case your Labrador swallows the toothpaste.
Dealing With Parasites
If you notice that your Labrador has a lot of parasites on their skin, like ticks and fleas, you should immediately deal with them. This step is always done last, so any topical treatment won’t be washed away during your Labrador’s bath time. Consult with your veterinarian, as to what medication you can use for your dog as well as the specific dosage.
Grooming your Labrador can be a very tiring experience, but at least it doesn’t have to be done as often as you think. Remember that you should only really be bathing your Labrador if it is visibly dirty and trimming its nails if they are too sharp or make noise when your Labrador is walking.
Giving your Labrador the best care is one of your responsibilities as their fur parent. If your dog constantly looks clean and with a healthy shine on its coat, many fur parents and veterinarians will know you take the best care of your Labrador. So go the extra mile and give your Labrador the best love they can get!