Dog grooming isn’t only about brushing and cleaning…

Your disease prevention program wouldn’t be complete without recognizing the importance of regular grooming.  The basic quality of your dog’s skin and coat is determined by many factors, but some such as genetics and climate are beyond your control.   However, nutritional effects, the presence or absence of parasites, and regular attention to grooming are very much dependent on you.

You may not realize that the skin is the largest organ in the body. It’s loaded with blood vessels, nerves, glands, and hair follicles, and consequently has a major influence on general health.  In the dog, when we talk about the skin we have to include the hair coat as well.  Together they function as the most important disease barrier between the environment and the rest of the body.  They also serve to insulate the body’s internal organs, and conserve body fluids.

Since we’ve established that proper nutrition is your number one disease prevention tool and the positive effects on every organ in the body are well documented, we’ll assume you’re already providing the best nutrition you can afford and your dog’s skin is properly nourished.  We’ll also assume that you recognize the need for regular bathing and brushing.  How often?  A good rule of thumb is to bathe and brush when the coat looks, smells, or feels dirty.  Some indoor dogs may only need attention once a month, while outdoor dogs might need a weekly bath.  What shampoo to use?  Any mild shampoo product is okay.  For normal use, Baby Shampoo is a good choice.  For oily, scratchy, or dry skin, Selsun often works well.  Lather it up as normal, but wait 20 minutes before rinsing.

Depending on what part of the country you live in, fleas and ticks may be a big problem.  If they are, then you have several options for controlling these pesky parasites, including shampoos, fleas and tick collars, liquids applied directly on the skin, and an assortment of pills and chewable tablets.  All of these products work to some degree, but all have some limitations.  Some only kill adult pests, some only kill eggs.  Some kill all external parasites, but are not effective against internal parasites.  Some effectively prevent or control internal parasites but don’t kill adult fleas.  Some require a vet’s prescription.

What does The Dog Health Adviser recommend?  If you only need to control fleas, ticks and lice, then topical products such as once monthly Frontline Plus, or the generic FiproGuard Plus are probably your best bet.  But if you live anywhere other than the dry west/southwest part of the country then you may be concerned about preventing heartworm and intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms as well as fleas and ticks.  If that’s the case then you should probably take a look at our recommendations under Preventing Dog Parasites.


  1. I’ve used frontline plus to treat my dogs whenever the flea seasons approaches and so far it has work fine on my dogs especially if you have a heavy infestation where natural flea products though safer may not work as well.

    However, many people have ignored the use of flea combs which I find very useful as a first line of attack on the fleas and not only that, the fur combing sessions you have with your pets helps to bond them closer to you.

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