PhotoIf your dog spent the summer trekking through the woods, swimming in the river, or simply enjoying a bit more time outside than usual, his coat and skin may be feeling the effects.

Bringing your dog along on an outdoor adventure can be a great bonding experience — one which provides your four-legged companion with exercise and mental stimulation in spades. However, mother nature can often wreak havoc on a dog’s paws, skin, and fur coat.

For this reason, pet parents should cap off a fun-filled summer with a little grooming. Seizing the opportunity to address coat and skin issues now can keep matters from getting worse once cold weather sets in.

What to do before fall

Grooming is always beneficial to your pet’s health, but the end of summer is an especially important time to give your dog’s coat and skin some extra attention, says Traci Simo of at-home pet care provider Canine Company.

What can pet owners do to undo summertime damage? Simo recommends the following:

  • Give your dog a deep brushing. All that romping around outside can lead to a matted coat, which can cause skin problems, irritation, and discomfort. Owners should carefully work out mats and tangles. If the matting is too severe, take your pup to a professional groomer who has the right tools and training to keep your dog comfortable during brushing.
  • Perform a parasite check. Check your dog’s skin for signs of fleas, ticks, and other parasites that may have hitched a ride on your unassuming pooch. Keep up with your parasite prevention treatments through fall.
  • Shampoo thoroughly. Bath time can help remove dust, dirt, mold spores, and parasites. After shampooing, pet owners can apply a conditioner to infuse moisture back into sun-damaged skin. When it’s time to dry off your dog, always use a towel instead of a hair dryer. (Home hair dryers may burn dogs’ skin.)
  • Do an ear check. Swimming can cause ear problems. If your dog’s ears have an odor or if you notice redness or see your dog scratching them, have your pet’s ears cleaned by a professional veterinarian or groomer.
  • Do a foot check. Your head-to-toe inspection should also include a look at your dog’s feet. Spread the pads and peek between the toes. If you see any signs of redness or irritation, your dog may have contact dermatitis or an allergy to lawn chemicals, hot asphalt, or grass seed. Have paws cleaned and treated, if this is the case. Lastly, trim your dog’s nails and any excess hair between the pads.

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