- Start with a deep brushing, carefully working out any mats and tangles. A matted coat will cause skin problems, irritation and discomfort. A badly matted dog should be seen by a qualified groomer with the tools and training to address the problem humanely.
- Check for parasites. While you are brushing and combing, inspect the dog’s skin for signs of fleas, ticks and other parasites. Don’t stop parasite prevention treatments yet; those pests will be looking for a ride indoors before the cold weather arrives.
- Shampoo thoroughly to remove dust, dirt, mold spores and parasites. Follow with a conditioner to moisturize sun-damaged skin. Towel dry, then brush and comb the coat. It’s best not to use a home hair dryer, because it can burn the dog’s skin.
- Do an ear check for problems that may be triggered by summer swims. If the ears have an odor or show signs of redness, or if the pet is scratching at them, proper cleaning by a professional groomer or veterinarian is in order.
- Do a foot check by spreading the pads and looking between the toes. Redness and irritation may indicate contact dermatitis or allergies from lawn chemicals, hot asphalt or grass seed – requiring cleaning and treatment. Nails and excess hair between the pads should be trimmed.