HOW TO GROOM A LABRADOR
The Labrador is a beautiful, short-haired dog that, like all dogs, needs regular care and maintenance to stay healthy. Grooming your Lab isn't complicated, but it must be done regularly to preserve their beautiful coat and their vitality.
Why Do I Need to Brush My Labrador?
The Labrador has a short, thick coat with a soft, weather-resistant undercoat. And, thanks to this short coat, grooming your Labrador Retriever is pretty simple. However, it needs to be done regularly and carefully to prevent the onset of skin diseases. Luckily, it doesn't take up too much time. Brush your dog’s coat once or twice a week all year round. During moulting periods (in autumn and spring), we recommend that you brush your Lab’s coat more often using a wire brush to get rid of dead hair. To avoid parasites, such as fleas, be sure to do regular, rigorous inspections. This also allows you to check whether your pooch has any injuries. Another positive point: brushing your Labrador—as long as you do it gently!—can be a special bonding moment for you both and a good time to strengthen your relationship.
What’s the Best Dog Brush for a Labrador?
In order to brush your Labrador properly, you need to have the right tools. A dog brush for a long-haired or curly-haired dog will not be suitable for your Lab. Instead, we recommend a carding brush or a pin brush, which allow you to brush your dog’s coat well and remove dead hair effectively, without damaging the undercoat. Finish off with a boar bristle brush to smooth your dog's coat. Please note: You should never shave your Labrador’s fur. It protects them from both the cold and the heat and, without it, your pooch would be at risk of serious sunburn.
How to Bathe a Labrador
In addition to regular brushing, you also need to wash your dog. Labradors don't need washing too often: three or four baths a year is more than enough. Of course, if your dog gets particularly dirty after rolling in the mud, for example, and starts to smell bad, don’t wait to give your Labrador an extra bath. Just try not to exceed one bath per month. If a bad smell persists, contact your vet because this could indicate a skin problem.
Always choose a suitable product to wash your dog with. Select a good dog shampoo that respects both your dog's hair and skin type (dry, oily, etc.). You should never use human shampoo on your dog! Use lukewarm water between 35 and 38°C. Never wash your Labrador in water that is too hot or too cold; this could seriously endanger the life of a puppy. The Labrador is a large dog, so you may have a little trouble getting it into your shower or bathtub. In this case, you can wash your dog with a hose outside, so long as your water supply has a temperature regulator. Lather shampoo all over your dog’s body, paying special attention to the legs and between the toes. Avoid your dog's eyes and ears, then rinse your pooch well to get rid of all traces of shampoo. Rub your dog with a towel to dry or, if you prefer, use a hairdryer set to low or medium heat.
Complementary Health Care for a Labrador
Labrador care doesn't stop with bathing and brushing; it’s also imperative to take care of your pup’s teeth, ears, eyes, and claws. Fortunately, the Labrador is a good-natured dog, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble!
It's important to take care of your Labrador’s teeth and have them professionally cleaned once or twice a year. Not only will this give your dog good breath, but it also helps to prevent tartar build-up that could cause painful dental problems over time, like periodontitis or abscesses. Teach your Labrador to accept a toothbrush and toothpaste from an early age and brush their teeth at least once a week to get rid of dental plaque and maintain healthy gums. You can also give your dog chew bones to help fight plaque and tartar.
Clean your Lab’s eyes regularly with saline solution. Avoid cotton balls or swabs which can leave fibres behind and, instead, opt for gauze or a cloth. Move gently from the inside to the outside of each eye, so as not to allow dirt in. If your dog suffers from chronic discharge, take them to see your veterinarian.
Your Labrador’s floppy ears are another point not to be overlooked. They need to be cleaned regularly to prevent ear infections, which the Lab is prone to. All you need is a suitable ear cleaning solution and some cotton pads or a cloth. Place the product inside your dog's ear canal, then massage gently to allow it to penetrate the ear. Wipe the remaining product off until no trace remains.
Remember to trim your Lab’s nails every three months using a suitable nail clipper or electric file. For large dogs like the Labrador, the electric file is often more convenient. Please note: Your dog’s nails must not be cut too short! Make sure to carefully locate the quick of the nail before cutting to avoid injuring your pooch. If your dog won't stay still or you don't feel capable of doing it on your own, you can take them to a professional dog grooming salon.
Finally, take your dog to the vet for regular preventive medical care, which is essential to the good health of your Labrador. While not compulsory, certain vaccinations are strongly recommended for dogs, in particular vaccines against rabies and tetanus. The kennel cough vaccine will also be necessary if your dog is staying in a boarding kennel. Additionally, an adult dog needs to be dewormed between two and four times a year, while puppies should be dewormed every month until they are six months old. Lastly, it’s very rare to find a dog who never catches fleas or ticks, so don’t forget to treat your dog with antiparasitic pipettes. It's also a good idea to schedule at least one general veterinary check-up a year, especially when your dog gets older. Supplement this care with a high-quality diet, adapted to your Labrador’s needs.
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