In my recent post about the importance of dog grooming, I used a manly motorcycle metaphor to divide the chores into the categories of body work and detailing, citing coat brushing as essential to the smooth functioning of a dog.

Why is brushing so crucial?

1) To stimulate the skin and allow natural oils to circulate

Some people are obsessed with washing their dogs (another topic I’ll get to), but that doesn’t benefit dogs quite as much as it benefits humans, who prefer companions that don’t stink. In contrast, dogs don’t care if they’re malodorous; if they did, they wouldn’t roll  around in disgusting stuff.

And if they cared about cleaning themselves off afterward, they would be cats.

I mention washing because, if done too often, it can deplete dogs of the natural oils they need. In contrast, brushing keeps those essential oils circulating, which is good for both the coat and the skin.

2) To peer at your dog’s pelt

When you brush your dog regularly, you automatically establish a baseline for what’s normal and start noticing things that deviate — bumps, discolorations, and, yes, tumors. And while you’re at it, this is also a good time to check eyes, ears, and teeth (though actual tooth brushing at the same time might be a tad too much for your pup to tolerate).

3) To prevent irritations and infections

If you don’t pay attention, fungi and insects –- and, in very large dogs, squirrels and small children — may take up residence in tangled hair. As a result mats (as matted hair is known) and knots give rise to skin irritations and, eventually, infections.

4) To spend quality time with your dog

It’s true, not all dogs love getting their coats brushed. And if you adopt a dog that isn’t used to it, you’ll have to go slowly and not try to do too much untangling, tugging, or anything else painful at once. Rewards and praise should be administered liberally, too. But once you get into a routine — which also means less pain because it’s just maintenance — your dog will appreciate the fact that she’s got your undivided attention for a nice stretch.

5) To keep your dog looking spiffy

Who doesn’t like a smart, well-turned out dog? The tousled chic look that Frankie sports is the result of home (read: uneven) haircuts, not lack of brushing, visual evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Coming next: The right tools for the job.

14 thoughts on “The top 5 reasons to brush your dog’s coat”

  1. All of your points are good–especially the one about spending time with your dog. By brushing your pet’s coat, you establish a bond between the two of you. I can also tell when a dog or cat’s fur has been brushed. It’s not matted or dusty looking.
    Plus, you bring up an important point, by brushing your pet, you can find tumors or any lumps that shouldn’t be there.

    1. Thanks, Michele. Yes, once you’ve established a routine — and dogs like routines — it’s easy to get a lot of preventative health checking accomplished.

  2. Edie, you forgot the best part of brushing often – less vacuuming! I’d much rather spend the time grooming the dogs and fawning over them, telling them how handsome they are – than lug the vacuum around the house sucking up the “fur bunnies.”

    1. Ah, Amy, you’ve anticipated one of my future posts! Unfortunately, you can’t eliminate vacuuming altogether if you’ve got a shedding dog, but you’re right, brushing definitely cuts down on the amount of fur that gets distributed randomly around the house.

  3. As a former groomer, I would stress to my clients the importance of brushing their dogs in between groomings so that I would not have to stress the dog while it was in the shop. This did not always work so I would just suggest that those unbrushed dogs come in more often. It is so rare today to see a dog wearing the beautiful coat it could be wearing rather than the lion clips or other designer clips to pacify the too busy pet parent.

    1. Thanks for your input, Amelia. I’m going to be writing later about professional grooming but it didn’t occur to me that regular grooming at home might make the experience at a groomer easier. You make a good point about one not being a substitute for the other.

  4. What great writing–love your humor! I appreciate your comment on washing dogs too often. It’s a real problem in urban areas; the dirt that turns the white part of my Shih Tzu’s coat gray makes me want to wash him and I have to stop myself because his skin is on the dry side and I’ve seen the dry coat that results from too frequent bathing. Thanks, Edie.

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