A monthly grooming routine is essential for a clean and healthy pet. Routine brushing and bathing allows you to check your dogs for cuts, matts, and skin bumps. Dogs with coats that need to be trimmed can be scheduled with a groomer you trust or done at home with self-training and set of clippers. Short coated dogs can be bathed and brushed easily at home with a few tools.
Introduce bathing and brushing early and with lots of treats to make future grooming a breeze. Using lukewarm water (think baby bathwater temperature) soak the dog from behind the ears back. Use a wet washcloth to wash the face with no soap to avoid burn and eye injury. Lather up the dog with a dog shampoo. Rinse, rinse and rinse. Soap residue can cause itching, rash, and irritation. Towel dry thoroughly. A high velocity dryer just for dogs is very helpful for double coated breeds. It dries them thoroughly in a flash and blows out the undercoat, reducing shedding drastically.
Wipe the ears clean with a damp, not wet, cotton ball. Do not reach deep into the ears. If you are removing a lot of debris or it has a pungent smell your dog may have an ear infection. No ear infection can be treated without veterinary care. The vet will determine if there is an infection and whether it is caused by bacteria or yeast and prescribe treatment.
If you are concerned your dog may have fleas or ticks a slightly different bathing method is recommended. Before wetting the dog, use a natural flea killing shampoo such as Richard’s Organics and apply it in a ring around the dog’s neck just behind his ears, on the foot pads between the toes and around the tail and anogenital region. When fleas and ticks feel the water, they will run to safety- the ears, hind end and paws. By applying the soap in a ring around these areas you will catch the escaping fleas. Follow all instructions on flea and tick shampoos, natural and chemical types. In a pinch regular dog shampoo used in this method will kill fleas, it just must be left on for 5 or so minutes.
Be advised that puppies and kittens may not be bathed with flea and tick shampoos so read the label first. Shampoos, natural and chemical, leave a residual that keeps working long after the bath. Do not double up on chemicals by bathing in a chemical flea shampoo then applying a spot-on treatment. Always follow label instructions and do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian when in doubt.
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.