Grooming

Below are resources for grooming your pet.

Nails
Skin Care (For hairless dogs)

SHAMPOO- In skin care for hairless dogs less really is more. First we'll start with shampoos. Almost all dog shampoos are fine for hairless dogs, they have proper PH and don't contain known allergens. Personally I recommend Chubbs Bar Soap brand. A few popular shampoos I'd say away from are anything in the hartz shampoo line-- the products are made with less than quality ingredients, ANY flea and tick shampoo (even the "all natural" ones)-- these shampoos aren't meant for total skin contact, and Dawn Dish Soap or any type of detergent shampoo-- Dawn is renowned for it's "safety" for oil spill animals and while it has saved many animals during oil spills it is not a good choice as a shampoo. It strips the skin of natural oils which at best can cause dry skin but at worse can cause major skin issues. On my adult dogs, I use an exfoliating shampoo monthly ( St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Scrub ) and Chubbs Bar Soap in between. If I notice any type of skin issues such as sores I use a Veterinary Strength Medicated Shampoo this is the one I use CURASEB as it is broad spectrum. It needs to be used 2-3 times weekly and allowed to soak for 10 minutes, then rinsed. Absolutely no lotions should be used.

PUPPY ACNE- AHTs as puppies inevitably get puppy acne. This happens because the AHT is actually born with fur but they lose it over their first weeks of life. DO NOT POP PIMPLES. I know it's hard to not "help" them but it will scar and can lead to skin infections. I use ST. Ives Apricot Scrub Acne Control, it contains salicylic acid which helps with acne, I use this weekly until the skin has completely cleared up (usually around 6 months) then  I use it monthly until a year old. If I need to bathe more than once a week, I use chubbs bar soap. I DO NOT use any lotions or oils while puppies have acne as it can cause clogged pours. 

LOTIONS- AHTs are VERY sensitive to Lanolin, which is a common ingredient in lotions. I highly recommend forgoing a lotion, they aren't needed and most contain harsh ingredients. Coconut Oil makes a great lotion for adults (and if they lick it off, it's okay!), Aloe Vera gel is another great lotion for AHTs, especially if their skin is irritated. Make sure it doesn't contain Lidocaine though. I never use lotions or oils on a puppy except aloe if they need it. 

SUNSCREEN/Bug Spray- AHTs need sun protection and protection from biting insects such as mosquitoes. Internally we give heartworm prevention to prevent any lasting effects from mosquitoes but we'd prefer them not to get bit because like people, mosquito bites are uncomfortable. If your pup does get bit ketamine lotion will give some relief, if they need it. To prevent bites WONDERCIDE is a great all natural repellent for fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other biting insects. I use this when we're out in the woods, I use it on myself too. When it comes to mosquitoes thought I much prefer Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard. Avon SSS Bug Guard is great, it contains safe ingredients and is a 2 in 1 for bug repellent and sunscreen. It's 30 SPF and lasts about 4 hours. It's not very greasy and doesn't smell awful. I use this daily in the summer if we're outside. If you just want sun protection you can purchase from Spoiled Bratz Wear.  Any sunscreen that doesn't contain Zinc or Lanolin are safe for AHTs to use though. 

DETERGENTS- Since most AHTs have a wardrobe what you wash their clothing and bedding in matters. Fabric softners and fragrences can really cause allergic reactions that manifest as itchy skin. Using gentle detergents for your dog's clothing, blanket and bedding will really help lessen that chance. Dreft & Tide Free & Gentle are both great brands to use.

Bathing (For coated breeds)

Regular bathing your dog is essential for healthy skin and coat. Any high quality shampoo will work. I have used many different brands and the brands I've listed below are my favorites: Best Shot, Isle of Dog, Chubbs Bar Soap, Chris Christenson and Tropiclean. For itchy skin I like to use Tropiclean Oxymed Shampoo or  Curaseb if their is a visible skin irritation. I use Tropiclean Flea & Tick for fleas. I Never use Dawn Dish Soap or any type of detergent shampoo-- Dawn is renowned for it's "safety" for oil spill animals and while it has saved many animals during oil spills it is not a good choice as a shampoo. It strips the skin of natural oils which at best can cause dry skin but at worse can cause major skin issues. My routine for bathing my flat coats is as follows: I bathe monthly unless I need to bathe sooner but I follow the same protocol except if I grooming for a show. I use Isle of Dog Deep Clean shampoo to get through the dirt and thoroughly clean the coat, then I follow the best shot 3 step system (conditioning shampoo & conditioner ). (If I am grooming for a show I use the Best Shot conditioning shampoo, then Chris Christenson Black on Black.) I let the conditioner soak for 5-10 minutes before rinsing, then I dry my dogs thoroughly with a towel. I spray the Best Shot leave in conditioner through their coat and finishing drying with a high velocity dryer. If you don't have one letting them air dry is fine too. 

Brushing

Brushing is very important in grooming your dog to prevent painful mats and tangles. Generally Flat Coats are pretty low maintenance when it comes to brushing requirements. Weekly brushing should suffice against mats and tangles. Generally Flat Coats can mat behind their ears and sometimes in their feathering on the hind legs. Diligent brushing will help prevent this. A good Slicker Bush and Comb should be all you need. Even during shedding those two items should be enough to remove dead coat. 

How to find a good groomer

Establishing a relationship with a good groomer will make grooming at home so much easier. Bringing your Flat Coat to the groomer every 8 weeks for a coat trim will really help prevent matting in between appointments. There are many groomers out there so sometimes it's hard to find a good one. Big box stores such as Petsmart and Petco's groomers are generally very new to the industry and a lot of times lack the training and experience to safely and properly groom dogs, of course there are exceptions but I would be cautious in using a groomer from a company like this. There is nothing wrong with "interviewing" your groomer beforehand. If a groomer seems annoyed that you're asking questions, find someone else. See how the groomer interacts with dogs. Ask groomers for examples of their work. Most groomers will not have experience with Flat Coated Retrievers so be very adamant about only trimming the ears & feet. Feathering should be left long, bellies should not be shaved and under no circumstances should a Flat Coat be shaved. If you want a groomer referral for your area, let me know and I'll find you one.