Even though your black Lab (Labrador retriever) is a short haired dog, she has a double coat, according to the American Kennel Club, and this means she will shed her undercoat continually, as well as "blowing coat" in the spring. To reduce shedding and keep her coat healthy you should groom her regularly. Grooming includes more than merely bathing or brushing. You should check and clean your lab's ears and trim her tails, too. Grooming also gives you the opportunity to feel her for warts or unusual lumps--an important consideration for older dogs.
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Things you need
- Shedding blade or undercoat rake
- Soft-bristle brush
- Nail clippers
Massage your Lab and feel for lumps or anything else unusual. This also relaxes her and helps loosen dead fur. Weather permitting, groom your dog outside or inside on a hard floor, so it will be easier to clean up flying fur when you're done.
Brush her with a shedding blade or undercoat rake. Both will pull dead fur away from the skin. Be gentle with both tools; it doesn't take much pressure to remove the fur, and it will be uncomfortable for her if you're too rough.
Use a comb to further loosen fur and work out knots. Have your Lab lying down, if you can, and work on one side at a time. Pay attention to the longer fur on the backs of her thighs and the underside of her tail.
Go over her with a soft-bristle brush to help distribute the skin oils that keep her coat shiny.
Check inside her ears and clean brown waxy residue with a tissue wrapped around your finger. Don't insert anything down the ear canal--dogs' ears are not like ours and you can hurt or injure her. If you see redness, or her ears smell (take a close-up sniff) take her to your veterinarian.
Trim her nails with guillotine trimmers or plier-type clippers. If you snip off the very tips every week or two, the quick will stay short and you're not likely to cut it. Getting your lab used to a Dremel tool and grinding her nails instead eliminates the risk of cutting the quick completely.
Tips and warnings
- All double-coated dogs shed undercoat continuously. The dogs will also shed voluminously in spring and fall. This is called "blowing coat."
- A high-quality diet will keep your Lab's coat shiny and reduce "doggy smell."
- Don't over-bathe your Lab because this will remove the oils that keep his coat shiny and water-resistant.
- A healthy dog on a proper diet should only need to be bathed in spring and fall to quickly remove blown undercoat.
- If you feel a lump, have it checked by your veterinarian. Harmless fatty tumours are common in older dogs, but should always be checked for malignancy.
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