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This blog post was originally published in June 2017. It has been updated with new information about how I groom each of my dogs and there is now additional information about grooming various dog breeds.

During the 2020 pandemic, groomers weren't considered essential businesses and closed their doors. We're lucky, because our dogs are easy to groom. Or are they? Paying attention to my favorite groomers made me realize that although I don't have to take my dogs to a professional, grooming is essential and I use the following tools to keep my pack healthy and looking good.

My dogs LOVE to be brushed, and I love brushing them.  The biggest shocker for me as a dog owner was that short-haired dogs shed more than long hair dogs. We have three four short-haired dogs and one long-haired dog; we sweep and mop our hardwood floors 3-4 days a week.

Do Raw Fed Dogs Shed Less?

I was told that one of the benefits of raw is that our dogs shed less.  To be honest, I can't remember how much our dogs shed before I switched to raw so I can't confidently tell you that they shed less.  I can say that this “benefit” of raw feeding is a myth because I'm sweeping and mopping every other day.

So who knows?  Other raw feeders, that's who; others have experienced a decrease in shedding.  I think we all can relate to that time of year when our dogs blow out their winter coats.  We now have a Husky/Golden Retriever mix with a thick undercoat, but, so far, the grooming hasn't been that big of a deal. This time of year, I find myself clearing out the excess hair on my dogs. I used to call it an undercoat, but now that we have Apollo, the Husky mix, my other dogs have excess hair. There definitely is a difference. In past years, I used a FURminator to clear out the excess hair, but I've moved to new tools thanks to a chat with my friend who owns a grooming business.

Should We Use a FURminator on our Raw Fed Dogs?

According to my friend, regardless of our dogs' diet, “a good, knowledgeable groomer will never use the FURminator [deshedding] tool or similar unless” they are grooming a Whippet, which has a naked/no coat.  Well, that's not a description of my dogs' coat, and I've been using a FURminator for years.  I don't often brush them, so I never notice discomfort in the past.  I mostly ran the tool across Sydney's back (short hair).  I didn't use the FURminator on Rodrigo (although his deshedding tool is for long hair breeds) because it yanked and pulled at his hair; he was not amused.

So, exchanged the FURminator for other grooming tools.

The Best Tools to Deshed Raw Fed Dogs

So, okay, this isn't strictly for raw fed dogs. However, I want raw feeders and aspiring raw feeders to find my blog which is why I'm adding “raw fed dogs” in my headers.  It's a blogging thing.

Grooming our dogs isn't just about keeping them looking pretty. The excess hair keeps their skin health. Combing out the excess hair between seasons keeps them comfortable. And grooming our dogs regularly avoids tangles and matting in their coat, which can be painful to remove. When I reached out to friends about grooming tools, several recommended looking for a tool with wider spaced teeth; this would avoid the pulling I was experiencing with the FURminator.  I stopped by a big box pet store and approached the rack of grooming tools.  My first impression was that they didn't have a lot.  There must have been a sale because the pickings were slim, but I did walk away with three tools that I've been using for a couple of years, and I love them!

Bonus! Everything was affordable.

Below is a list of grooming tools that helped me deshed my pack.

A slicker brush is fantastic for getting rid of loose hairs, taking car eof mats and tangles, and giving my dogs a yummy back scratch,

1 – Slicker Dog Brush

I use this brush on my short-haired dogs only.

Slicker dog brushes are the ones with fine wires, and they're great for taking care of mats and tangles.  I use this gently on my dogs' haunches.  I like that I can quickly tell if I have a matted (with trees sap) spot that needs to be cut out; this prevents me from causing any discomfort as I try to force the brush trough the sticky spot, mistaking it for a tangle.

I also use this brush to gently remove loose hair.  A quick brush (3 or 4 swipes) takes care of any errant dog hair.  And although the wires seem like they'll hurt my dogs, it's a comfortable back massage and feel-good scratch that gets a wagging tail every time.

I use an undercoat rake on our Husky mix and our short-haired dogs to remove lose hair, undercoat on their haunches and, for Sydney, around the neck.

2 – Undercoat Dog Rake

I use this brush on my short-haired dogs only.

All of my dogs have a thick, matted undercoat on their haunches every year and I spend several days cleaning everyone up (a little bit at a time).  Rodrigo, our long-haired dog, gets these matted hairs a couple of times a year if I don't stay on top of his grooming. However, I don't use an undercoat dog rake on him.

When I looked online for dog rakes, there were several crazy and kind of scary contraptions that were not for me.  I wanted something simple and found what I needed at the pet store (similar to the image above).

The right grooming rake removes the undercoat, loose hair, and dead hair, which helps to prevent matting.  I go slowly starting at the end and working my way up to the skin.  This detangles and removes all the excess hair without pulling it and causing discomfort.

I have a couple of undercoat rakes because I couldn't decide which one we needed.  They work equally well.

I use a comb on my border collie mix to remove the undercoat in some areas and detangle his hair.

3 – Grooming Dog Comb

I use this brush on my long-haired dog only.

I've had this grooming tool (the one pictured above) for a long time, and it's the only one I use on Rodrigo.  With his long hair, he gets mats in his haunches and a few tangles.  And I swear he must rub against every tree and bush on the property because he always comes in with a sticky spot.

Oh and he hates being brushed.

I used to use the wrong tools on him, trying to “gently” force brushes through tangles and mats.  With this comb, he rarely bares his teeth at me when I'm brushing him; but he's still not a fan of the experience.

A local groomer recommended this simple, inexpensive comb when I explained my challenges grooming Rodrigo.  Like the undercoat rake, I start at the ends and gently work my way to the skin with short, shallow brushes.  It may seem like a tedious undertaking, but Rodrigo is a border collie mix, so it doesn't take long to get through his hair.  I use my fingers along the way, feeling for any sticky (tree sap) spots that may need to be cut out before I try the comb on the area.

The teeth of the comb are too wide to use on my other dogs (it just slides through doing nothing) and perfect for Rodrigo's long locks because it allows me to gently brush him everywhere without getting caught in the tangles.

4 – Deshedding Gloves

I use my gloves on all of my dogs.

Have you seen the gloves that remove loose hair from dogs' coats? OMG, I saw a pair in an ad on Facebook, asked friends their thoughts, and everyone gave rave reviews. I love them and need to buy a second pair. Our puppy, the Husky mix, got ahold of my first pair and tore one to shreds. I lost the other (or it may be in the yard somewhere). Note to self, put your toys away, Kimberly.

Anyway, what I love about these gloves is that they are a quick way to remove loose hair. I take the dogs outside and “pet” them one at a time with the gloves on and watch the hair fly. And don't forget the legs. You'd be amazed by how much hair is removed from the legs. The dogs love it and it's a great way to turn petting my dogs into a light grooming session.

5 – Curry Comb

A curry comb is another handy tool to have on hand and I love it. It's a great way to comb the dogs in a way that they love because the rubber tips of the comb (or is it a brush?) add a lovely massage to the chore that keeps my dogs content and in place. I also use the curry comb on my cat and it's amazing how much hair this simple tool pulls off of Cosmo. I thought the FURminator was impressive, the curry comb is just as effective and it doesn't pull my pets' hair.

It's not necessary for me to have a curry comb, to be honest. I received one in a gift bag and have loved it ever since.

  • CLICK HERE to order a curry comb for your dog (or cat). The Kong brand has an inexpensive, yet effective one.
When it comes to my dogs nails, I'm still using clippers (Miller Forge are my favorites) and haven't graduated to a dremel yet.

My Favorite Nail Clippers for My Dogs

I'm convinced that the nails of raw fed dogs grow faster.  I have to clip our dogs' nails regularly because not only do they seem to grow faster, none of my dogs like having their nails clipped so I often do two nails a day.  I recently clipped Zoey's quick (she has black nails) which means she won't let me near her for a while.

I used to use guillotine clippers, which one of my former vets used successfully with my dogs.  However, a friend who is a groomer (hey, Amber) told me that these can cause a dog pain.  Turns out that you have to sharpen these tools and I wasn't doing that – no wonder my dogs run from me.

Today, I use traditional clippers that don't hurt my dogs and I have a small collection of clippers that have been effective with my dogs and my favorite pair are the Miller Forge clippers for medium dogs. My second favorite pair are my Safari Professional Nail Trimmer for Dogs. People have told me that I need to use the orange Miller Forge clippers (for large dogs) on my dogs, but I now ignore the advice. The orange ones cause all of my dogs' discomfort because I think they're meant for very tough/strong nails, which my dogs don't have. The red Miller Forge clippers (for medium dogs) work the best for my pack.

Other Grooming Tools for Dogs

And since I'm on the topic of grooming, I thought I'd share a few other tools and products that keep our dogs clean.

Clippers – every year, J trims Rodrigo's hair a couple of inches.  Not short enough to come close to exposing his skin; instead, he cuts enough to give him some relief in the heat.  We use a clipper set by Wahl.  It's quick, it's quiet (doesn't freak Rodrigo out), and it does a great job.

Shampoo – I prefer natural shampoo and one brand that I love is 4-Legger (their unscented is THE BEST) which is certified organic and all-natural.  And 4-Legger makes our dogs smell amazing without killing Zoey's nose (she's sensitive to strong scents) when I bathe her. And, of course, it's easy to make your own dog shampoo.

Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Repellent – I've read that raw fed dogs are less likely to get fleas because they don't have that “dog smell” that bugs love so much.  In a perfect world, that would be all I'd have to write; but we all know fleas still happen.  I recently started adding fresh garlic to my vegetable mix (trust me, it's not toxic in small amounts) because my friend (hey, Tina) hasn't had an issue with fleas and ticks since she started adding fresh, crushed garlic to her dogs' diet daily.

I love Wondercide products and buy the spray and occasionally the shampoo bar.  One bottle of Wondercide will last for two years with several big dogs.  I'm going to try a Cedarcide product this year, similar to Wondercide because it's always nice to have a backup plan.  Both of these brands offer sprays, shampoos, and garden sprays too.  We're covered!

During the 2020 pandemic, groomers weren't considered essential businesses and closed their doors. We're lucky, because our dogs are easy to groom. Or are they? Paying attention to my favorite groomers made me realize that although I don't have to take my dogs to a professional, grooming is essential and I use the following tools to keep my pack healthy and looking good.

Read More About Raising Dogs

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