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Has Your Dog Gone Without a Bath for TOO Long?

posted Feb 16, 2010, 9:56 AM by Angela G   [ updated Feb 16, 2010, 9:56 AM ]
[cross-posted from Dr. Jon's Dog Crazy Newsletter]
Do you dread giving your dog a bath? Is it a big soapy mess? Do you let your dog go without a bath for weeks because it is simply too much of a hassle?
Well, you're not alone.
My friend, Margie, has a little black and white Terrier named Chips who just HATES baths. Every time she mentions the word "BATH," he runs away and hides under the sofa. It takes the entire family to catch and bathe him. Margie even tried SPELLING the word. "It's time to give Chips a B-A-T-H," she would say. But Chips soon caught on and began running for cover at the very spelling of the word "BATH." (Who said dogs aren't smart?)
There are other challenges to washing your dog.
Big dogs can be more of a handful just because of their size. Dogs with thick coats are always more difficult to bathe because it's hard to clean through the fur, down to the skin.
In some climates, it can be too cold to wash your dog outdoors during winter months. This year is so cold, even South Florida is getting freezing temperatures!  For some dogs the job is just too messy to be done indoors, but it must be done regardless. (Any time your dog starts to SMELL like a dog, it is time for a good bath.) Professional groomers are always a good option ... provided it's in your budget (which is not always the case -- especially these days). Regardless of HOW you do it, your dog still needs to be bathed regularly during cold winter months - and for most of us, that means bathing him indoors.
Here are some tips to help you bathe your dog indoors during cold winter months.
1. Never wash your dog outside if the weather is cold. This is particularly true for puppies - they have trouble regulating their body temperatures. Puppies should be at least four weeks old before they receive their first bath.
2. Before starting an indoor bath, make sure the house is warm. Turn up the thermostat a few degrees. Do your prep work. Have everything ready ahead of time - shampoo, towels, the works.
3. Start  by combing and brushing out all mats. Otherwise, the water will turn the mats into solid masses, which will require clippers to remove. If your dog's hair is matted with paint, tar or some other sticky material, trim with clippers or soak the area with vegetable or mineral oil for 24 hours. (Consult a professional groomer for especially difficult tangles.)
4. Prep your dog. Put a drop of mineral oil in the eyes to protect them from suds. Some people use cotton balls in the ears. If you use cotton balls, make sure they're the right size for your dog's ears; if they're too small, they may slip down the ear canal.
5. Bathe your dog as quickly as possible. Be thorough and do a good cleaning, but whether you're using the tub or the shower get him in and out as soon as possible. Dry your dog immediately and as quickly as possible. Use a good pet shammy, lots of big soft towels, or a hair dryer set to a low setting. NEVER allow a wet dog to go outdoors in the winter.
I hope this will help make bathing your dog a lot easier this winter.  Your dog will be happier and he will smell nice and clean. With a little preparation and the right tools it can actually be fun for both of you.
Everybody wins!
Until next time,
Dr. Jon