How to Wash Your Dog
Even if you’ve got the most easy-care dog in the world, she’ll still need some attention to be paid to her appearance every once in a while – so it’s worth spending a bit of time learning the best techniques for easy, stress-free grooming.
WHY SHOULD I BOTHER GROOMING MY DOG?
Not so long ago, the average American’s approach to canine grooming was somewhat cavalier. Dogs were seen as something that lived in the yard (usually in a dusty, hard-floored kennel), ate whatever was put in their bowls, and existed as a sometime-playmate for the household’s children.
Today, we tend to care for our dogs a lot more, and view them more as members of the household than the Thing in the Yard.
Ever since this rise in the estimation of our beloved pooches became widespread, grooming has been increasingly recognized as an important facet of your dog’s regular health-care. It ensures that any skin-care problems are minimized (because grooming distributes the natural skin-oils evenly throughout the coat), and assists you in monitoring your dog’s overall condition – if you groom on a regular basis, you can’t help but notice the presence of any unusual lumps or bumps.
This preventative action has saved many a canine life. Our dogs can’t tell us where it hurts, but taking just a little bit of time every so often to check them over ourselves can save a lot of grief in the long run.
The trick is getting your dog to tolerate (and even enjoy!) the process …
THE FIRST STEP IN THE GROOMING PROCESS
Something that many owners lack experience in is how to wash their dogs. Dry-grooming (brushing and ‘buffing’ the coat) seems to present little problem for most people; the rot tends to set in when water is introduced to the mix.
Most dogs have a strong dislike of being bathed, and in many cases will become utterly panic-stricken when the tub comes out.
This article is going to deal with the basics of how to wash your dog in a way that’ll keep both of you relaxed and happy.
PREPARING YOUR DOG FOR GROOMING
First of all, the absolute most important thing you can do is to accustom your dog to the grooming process. Now, starting this in puppyhood is the ideal way to handle the situation, but of course not all of us have this luxury; if you’ve got an adult dog, you’ll probably need to move a little slower, but you should still start getting her used to being touched and handled all over as soon as you can.
As your puppy or dog gets used to the sensation of being rubbed and handled, she’ll slowly come to enjoy it. Dogs are social creatures by instinct, and physical affection and contact is a big part of their lives – it shouldn’t take long before she begins to trust you, and allows herself to get some pleasure out of your touch.
All you have to do is start rubbing her slowly all over. Fondle her ears, touch her cheeks and neck, rub her back and belly, pick up her paws and – if she’ll let you – give each one a gentle squeeze (treating and praising her whenever she lets you do this, since paw touching is generally a pretty big deal for most dogs). If she has a tail, rub it between your fingers; get her to roll over on her back so you can rub and stroke her belly and hocks.
This might not seem like such a big deal, but it’s actually a really important part of the grooming process: the more your dog enjoys it, the less stressful the whole event will be for both of you, and so the more often you’re likely to groom her – which increases the health benefits for her.
HOW TO WASH YOUR DOG
Bathing always comes before dry-grooming, since it makes brushing and trimming a lot easier as well as a lot more effective (there’s not much point in brushing a tangled, dirty coat!)
You will need some basic tools: a tub, a non-slip mat, a plastic jug, some warm water, a small sponge, and some canine shampoo (not human shampoo: the pH is all wrong for dogs, and will give her dry and flaky skin.)
Stand her in the tub, on the non-slip mat. If she’s a large or unruly dog, you may want to wash her outside to minimize mess – either that, or you can restrain her by tying one end of a light nylon leash to her collar, and the other end to the faucet.
Pour jugs of warm water all over her until she’s good and wet. This breaks down the grease in her fur, and ensures a thorough shampooing.
Mix a little shampoo with another jug of warm water, and rub it thoroughly into your dog’s fur. Start off with her back and rub it into a good lather (but don’t be too harsh!)
Now you can move on to her head and face. Be very careful here – dogs’ eyes are sensitive too, and if you get any water in her ears, she’ll probably get an ear infection. (You can plug her ears with a small twist of cotton wool to help stop this from happening, if you like.)
Remember to clean under her tail before you wash her off – dip the sponge into the shampoo mixture to do this properly.
Now it’s time to rinse: using the jug and some clean, warm, shampoo-free water, carefully tip it all over her and use your fingers to help disperse the lather from her coat. Rinse her off thoroughly at least twice, since any residue that remains will irritate her skin.
Now you’ll need to dry her off: if she’s got short fur, you can use a towel (an old one will do just fine, although big dogs generally need two); for dogs with longer fur, give her a gentle toweling-off first, and then use a hair dryer to get rid of the last dampness. Be certain that it’s set on low heat, and hold it far away from your dog’s fur to prevent burning either the skin or the fur.
KEEP YOURSELF CALM
Remember that most dogs have an inherent dislike of being bathed, which can cause anxiety and even outright panic.
Your dog takes a lot of her emotional cues from you, so make sure you act like a good role model for the occasion. Reassure your dog frequently, keeping your voice well-modulated, low, and even; keep your movements slow and deliberate; praise her lavishly for good behavior, and give her a couple of treats throughout the process to make it more enjoyable for her.
The more she enjoys the process, the easier it’ll be for you!
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Grooming your dog is just one tiny aspect of maintaining overall health and happiness. For a complete, encyclopedic survival guide to all aspects of dog health, from preventative care to choosing a vet to doggie First Aid (even the canine Heimlich maneuver!), you should take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health.
A survival guide for knowledgeable, effective, and life-saving dog care, this manual keeps your dog’s health and wellbeing firmly within your control – which is exactly where you want it to be.
To be the best and most responsible owner you can be, take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health.
You can visit the website by clicking on the link below:
Ultimate Guide to Dog Health
External parasites and their treatments
WHAT IS A PARASITE?
External parasites are pretty common among dogs. A parasite is an organism that lives off the resources your dog has to offer: namely, fresh blood (which most parasites drink) and a warm place to stay (in and on the skin and fur).
What are the common parasites that might affect my dog?
There are a wide range of parasites that affect dogs:
All of these parasites cause adverse reactions in your dog: typically, itching and inflamed skin, a dull coat, and bald spots. In advanced cases, your dog may develop anemia (blood loss) and become generally debilitated (particularly if he or she is very young, very old, or suffering from another condition).
In addition to this, many parasites convey secondary and internal parasites to your dog – for example, fleas usually carry the common tapeworm (which causes constipation and flatulence), and ticks can cause a variety of much more serious problems like Lyme’s disease and paralysis.
In today’s newsletter, we’re going to be looking at fleas: what they are, how to tell if your dog’s affected, and how to get rid of them.
A CLOSER LOOK AT FLEAS
Fleas are without question the number-one most common external parasite affecting dogs. They’re small, jumping insects that are light brown in color, although humans generally can’t see them – they move much too quickly for that!
Fleas live off your dog’s blood. The life cycle of a flea moves very rapidly from stage one (egg) to stage four (adult flea), which means they’re capable of multiplying with staggering rapidity.
An adult flea lays hundreds of eggs per day. Each egg will then become an adult flea, which lay hundreds more eggs of its own. One flea becomes a major problem very quickly!
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR DOG HAS FLEAS
The symptoms of a flea infestation are unmistakable.
A dog with a flea infestation will scratch almost constantly, often at areas that fleas seem to favor: the ears, the base of the tail, the belly, and the stifle (the webbing of soft skin between the thigh and the abdomen).
It’s actually the saliva of the flea that causes the irritation, not the bite itself, and some dogs have a genuine allergy to this saliva (as opposed to a standard irritation). Dogs with allergies suffer much more significant negative reactions to a flea infestation, and usually develop “hot spots”.
These hot spots are areas of sore, inflamed, flaking, bleeding, and infected skin, caused by the flea saliva and your dog’s own reaction to it. Bald patches will sometimes develop too, from repeated scratching and ongoing inflammation.
If you think your dog has fleas, you can confirm your suspicions by taking a closer look at his skin: you probably won’t be able to see the fleas themselves, but you should be able to see what looks like ground pepper (a thin sprinkling of fine black grains) on his skin. This is flea dirt (poop).
If you groom him with a flea comb (which is like a fine-tooth comb), try wiping it on a paper towel: if red blotches show up on the towel, you know that your dog has fleas (on a white background like a paper towel, flea poop shows up red: since fleas subsist on blood, their poop is colored accordingly).
TREATMENT FOR FLEAS
Because fleas only spend a small amount of time actually on your dog, and the rest of their time leaping through your house laying eggs and feeding on human blood, it’s not enough to just treat the dog: you also have to target his bedding, the entire house, all human bedding, and the yard (yes, fleas lay eggs all through the yard, too. Even if it’s cold outside, you’re not necessarily off the hook: cold weather doesn’t kill flea eggs, it just puts them into a state of hibernation. The eggs will hatch as soon as it gets warm enough outside.)
You’ll need a broad-spectrum treatment which kills not only the adult fleas (which are the ones that bite), but also any developing fleas, and the eggs.
PREVENTION IS THE BEST (AND THE EASIEST!)
Prevention is definitely the best cure – you should keep your dog’s flea treatments up to date with the use of a calendar, and use a treatment that’s prescribed by the vet. Off-the-shelf treatments aren’t recommended, since different dogs require different strengths depending on their size, age, and activity levels. A particular benefit of prescribed flea treatment is that most are also designed to prevent other parasites (like mites, ticks, and heartworm) from affecting your dog.
FOR AN EXISTING INFESTATION
If your dog already has fleas, you have two options:
- You can ‘bomb’ the house and yard with a flea-pesticide. These come as foggers (which coat each room, and the yard, in a fine mist of pesticide) and sprays (which are applied manually to each surface throughout the house and yard), and although they’re very effective in killing fleas and eggs, there’s one major drawback: they’re highly toxic to humans, dogs, and the environment. Depending on your priorities, this is probably the quickest solution to a flea problem (and will effectively wipe out the eggs, too) but if you have anyone in the house with allergies or a health condition – including pets! – you might want to think again.
- A more health-friendly alternative is to target the dog with a topical anti-flea solution prescribed by the vet (like Advantage or Revolution), and to rigorously clean the house on a regular basis until the flea problem has gone. This means vacuuming each room thoroughly each day – put a flea collar in with the vacuum bag to kill any fleas that get sucked up – and wash all human and dog bedding in hot water as often as you can (once every day or every two days is recommended). You’ll be able to tell when the problem’s gone because your dog won’t be scratching, and his coat will be clear of flea dirt when you inspect it.
WHAT NOT TO DO ABOUT FLEAS
- Don’t use multiple products on your dog – it’ll make him sick, since you’ll be overloading his system with toxins.
- Don’t forget to treat all the animals in the house at the same time: cat and dog fleas are interchangeable, and if one animal has fleas, they all will have them, even if some are not displaying the symptoms.
- Flea collars are no longer recommended as a safe option for flea prevention, since the collars are highly toxic – vets have realized that placing a toxic material directly against your pet’s skin for long periods of time (flea collars have to be worn 24/7 to be effective) is detrimental to your dog’s health.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PARASITES AND THEIR TREATMENT...
Fleas are just one of the many, many types of parasites that affect your dog. To find out more about the complete prevention and treatment of all types of parasites (external and internal), as well as a comprehensive guide to all aspects of dog health, take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health.
This book is an invaluable resource for the responsible dog owner, and will help you to ensure that your dog remains happy and healthy – just the way you want him to be!
You can check out the book by clicking on the link below:
Ultimate Guide to Dog Health