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MJ's Animal Blog

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Giving Your Dog A Bath

Photo Credit: Pixabay
A dirty, smelly dog is inevitable once you adopt him from a shelter. Whether you go hiking in the hills, swimming at the lake, or he finds mud in the backyard, a good scrubbing at bath time will become a regular part of your care routine. The ASPCA recommends bathing your dog at least once every three months. Depending on the breed, amount of time outdoors, and whether skin problems persist, your dog may require frequent baths every 2-4 weeks. Washing dogs too frequently can remove skin oil, making your dog itch or develop skin breakdowns. However, if your dog stinks, it is time to give him a bath.
           Because you don’t know all the past history with your shelter dog, first create positive associations with the bath tub or specific area where you will give your dog a bath. If your dog is older, it may take them longer to become comfortable taking a bath. Be gentle, patient, and calm with him. Throw their favorite toy or treat in the tub and reward them with praise when they jump in the tub. Allow them to spend time in the space until they are comfortable and repeat this training – with or without treats - until he will do the same with water in the tub. A bath tub may be out of the equation for your shelter dog. You may have to bathe your dog outside because the dog feels trapped in the small space. Some dog owners have even resorted to showering with their dog.
           Regardless of where you plan to bathe your dog, brush him before bath time. Brushing keeps the dog’s coat in good condition by removing loose hair and preventing hair mats or knots. Brushing helps distribute healthy natural skin oils over the hair shaft and allows dirt to slide off the hair making the shampooing process more effective. Gently cut away any mats or knots with a sharp scissors as they can reduce the amount of air flow to the skin trapping moisture, causing skin irritation and infection.
           Gather all supplies before running water to the bath. Prep the area with hypoallergenic shampoo, a bath tool or wash cloth for scrubbing, a pitcher, cup, or hose for rinsing, and towels. Some experts recommend three towels – one for the bottom of the tub to increase traction and reduce slipping (or use a non-skid mat), one for draping on the dog between washing and rinsing so he doesn’t shake, and another for drying off.
           Start the warm water and fill the basin with 3-4 inches. If your dog will allow, place cotton balls in the dog’s ear canals to prevent water from entering the ear. Dogs ears are extremely sensitive so you do not want water getting in them, along with the eyes, nose, and mouth. You can use a towel with baby oil or apple cider vinegar to wipe out the inside of the ear. Using a damp cloth to wash the head can effectively clean it. Remember to remove the cotton after the bath.
           Wash your dog by starting from the neck down, getting completely down to the skin.  While praising your dog, you may either put shampoo in your hands to scrub it in or place the shampoo on the dog’s back in a “W” pattern. Scrub from head to tail, massaging to relax and clean him.  (If you have a dog who scoots across the floor on his backside, you may want to suppress the anal glands. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to empty them.) Drain the dirty water out and rinse the dog thoroughly with clean water.
           Dry him completely with a large towel. If your dog is used to the noise, you can use a blow dryer on their hair on a low setting. Continue to praise your dog, building a stronger bond between the two of you. You may want to wait until he is fully dry to let him go outside – or he’ll find some dirt to roll in! Another grooming opportunity presents itself at this time as your dog’s nails will have softened in the water. It is a great time to clip his nails.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
           But what if my dog has that wet dog smell even after I bathed him? Oil, known as Sebum, and water together create a bacteria causing the unpleasant odor. The Sebum, along with microorganisms, collect on the hair shaft and follicles to protect a dog’s skin from dehydration. You may need to bathe your dog every week or bi-weekly until the smell lessens, being careful not to overwash the dog because the skin can dry out. Be extra vigilant with a dog who has skin folds to wash and dry between the folds, as these can be problematic areas. If smells persist, consult your veterinarian to check for skin conditions or disease.
           In addition, wash toys, bedding, blankets, or other areas where your dog frequents. You may consider natural options, rather than chemicals found in common household detergents. Diluted vinegar wash or baking soda rinses will help reduce microorganisms causing odors to emit from your dog.
           If your shelter dog despises bath time, other options exist. Handy and portable pet wipes can eliminate odors but avoid the eyes. Groom your dog with a deshedding tool and grooming tool to reduce the amount of dirt and allergens in your dog’s hair. Sometimes dry shampoo, such as baking soda and cornstarch or commercial dry shampoo, can alleviate dog smell. Massage the dry shampoo through your dog’s coat using a towel. Doggy sprays can freshen up a dog and help detangle their coat as well. Get rid of doggie breath by brushing your dog’s teeth or use dental chews.  
           Be patient, calm, and assertive to create pleasant associations with the dog and bath time. View bath time as a positive opportunity to build the bond with you and your shelter dog!

Michael John Kulick
My goal with this venture is to give these pets a fighting chance in finding a good home for them and to let people know about the health benefits that come with owning a pet. I believe that every is unique and that each dog can cater to different people.

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