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Published: May 21, 2012

Spring brings with it a number of concerns for pet owners, as dogs are likely to spend more time outside among fleas, ticks and mosquitoes during the warmer weather. Grooming may not seem like it needs to be on the top of a dog owner's to do list this spring, but keeping your dog clean may be key to its overall health this summer.

Shedding that winter coat

If you have a medium or long-haired dog or one with a thick undercoat, grooming can prevent overheating and heat stroke this summer, according to an animal hospital in Georgia. Now is the time to remove the thick coat of dogs like poodles or other breeds that get shaved regularly, but owners of other breeds must keep an eye on their dogs' coats as well.

Dogs like Newfoundlands and golden retrievers might be more comfortable in hot weather if they are shaved, and even medium-haired breeds like Labradors can benefit from a scrub down that will remove loose, dead hairs from the undercoat that kept it warm all winter. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, healthy dogs should be bathed about every six to eight weeks.  Dogs who experience heavy seasonal shedding should also be bathed at these times in order to remove loose hair.  Additionally, dogs should be bathed any time you notice they have been rolling in something, if their coat is visibly dirty, or if they develop an odor.  Speak to your veterinarian if you find you need to bathe your dog frequently as they may recommend a gentler soothing shampoo to avoid over-drying of the skin or coat.

Keeping an eye out for insects

As your dog romps around the woods, field and even your backyard this spring, it is much more likely to encounter disease-carrying insects like ticks, mosquitoes, or fleas. Ticks can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in dogs, while mosquitoes can transmit heartworms to dogs. When you groom your dog regularly - through brushing or baths - you can inspect it for bugs it might have picked up outside. Nail clipping and ear cleaning are some other good times to look for these critters, since ticks like to hide in crevices like those between the paw pads and around the ear flaps.

Spring is an important time to pay attention to flea control for dogs to prevent itching in dogs or an allergic reaction to the flea's saliva.

"Every month I meet pet owners who don't realize the importance of grooming for their pet's fitness and longevity. And especially with the hot summer months almost upon us, it's more important than ever to educate pet owners about how an animal's coat, nails and teeth need to be cared for in order to avoid heat stroke, as well as parasites, infections and even more serious conditions," said Georgia veterinarian Dr. Mike Wanchick.