Dog baths at home can be simple. However, here are a few safety tips to make sure the money you save on grooming isn’t spent on a vet visit.
They make dog bathing look so fun in the movies, suds flying everywhere and children laughing as Fido destroys the bathroom with wet furry flying soap. While keeping safety in mind and knowing what you are doing, a dog bath can be a fun bonding experience for you and your dog, and your bathroom.
Brushing Out Your Dog
At the beginning of the dog bath, start with brushing out your dog. It can be hair or fur, long or short, either way, it is important to brush out all excess undercoat or mats before the bath. If there is any matting during the bath the water will make the mats tighter to the skin. To make the brushing process easy on the dog and you, use line brushing. Start at the base of the tail and push the hair against the grain towards the head.
With a Slicker Brush, brush the hair out from under your hand little by little. Use a J like motion with the brush, being careful not to scratch the dog’s skin while doing so. Continue doing this along with the spine, sides, and legs. If there are mats in the sanitary area, undercarriage, armpits, behind the ears or between the paw pads do not attempt to brush these out. The skin is too sensitive. These mats need to be shaved out and these areas are best kept short for the dog’s health. If you are not comfortable shaving these areas, most groomers will shave them only, and for a lesser price than a full grooming.
After you have finished the line brushing, take a comb and brush it through. If it goes smoothly you have brushed out all the mats and are ready to move on.
As for double coated dogs, it is a matter of what brush to use. If you choose a “Furminator” be sure to keep it gentle. It might feel like you need to dig for that fur but you don’t. This brush is for the undercoat and somehow still allows the shedding top coat to remain. For the top coat use a Zoom Groom. It is as if you are petting the dog but the rubbery tips grab the fur and let it fall. This brush can also be used in the bath to scrub in the shampoo.
The Dog Bath
And now it is time for the bath. If your dog has any skin allergies, sensitivities or irregularities please contact your vet before purchasing a shampoo. As for everyone else, oatmeal shampoos are gentle to the skin, shine up a coat, and soak up all odors and oils while whisking away dirt. Use this from the top of the neck down to the rest of the body and tail.
As for the face, a tearless shampoo is necessary for two reasons. Our dog’s eyes do not get as much protection as ours throughout their life. No sunglasses or eye drops for them. So protect them by using a tearless shampoo. The second reason is the mouth. No soap is good to digest, but this is the most likely soap they will lick in the process, so it’s best to choose one without perfumes.
Rinsing is very important. If there is any shampoo left on the dog’s skin it could turn into a hot spot, so rinse thoroughly. However during this process be very careful not to get any water in the dog’s ears.
This can be tricky. Try to work with gravity, turning the dog’s head down, as they tend to want it up for some reason at this point. A cotton ball placed gently in the ear can help as well. But no one knows better than the dog that there is water in their ear. So to some extent, if the dog needs to shake, let ’em!
After the bath, if you are going to blow dry your dog, make sure the dryer is on cool air. The heat could burn them. If you put cotton balls in the ears remove them and clean the ear out with a clean cotton ball. Using dog ear cleanser, moisten the cotton ball and gently sweep out the ear. Do not feel like you need to go too deep.
If the cotton ball is dirty with excessive wax, the ear could be infected and needs to be seen by a vet. As for the ear hair, this can also be included in the cheaper sanitary shave package at the dog groomers. But if you do it yourself use the dog ear powder. Sprinkle it on the ear hair and only the hair growing out of the ear canal. Then with your fingers, pluck out what you can. Be careful using hemostats. One sudden move of the dog could result in a serious injury. If your fingers can’t reach any more hair, and there is not a build up of wax, then it is alright to leave.
This little part of the dog bathing process can be the hardest. Many dogs scream a painful scream. But the feeling is like tearing off a band-aid and is much less painful than an ear infection, which is the reason for pulling out the ear hair in the first place. But take a moment after this to gently scratch your dog behind the ears and give some love. It will make both of you feel better.
Cutting the Nails
Next comes the dreaded nails. We call the vein in the nail the quick. If this is cut with the nail the bleeding is serious and dangerous. So before you start make sure you have what you need. Quick styptic powder or flour is used to stop the bleeding. Be sure to have some close by just in case. If it is needed, take a pinch and push it against the end of the nail. Continue to add powder and pressure until the bleeding stops. This creates a clot that can be re-opened. So keep an eye on it for a couple of days.
As for cutting the nails, do not trust quick finding nail clippers. They can not tell where the quick is, and every dog is different. Clear nails or black nails, it is always best to use a regular dog nail clipper for their size of the nail and start at the very tip of the nail. Slowly shave off bit by bit until you reach the quick. You will know you are there with clear nails because you can see the red vein. With a black nail look for the inside to become white and chalky, or look for a small blacker dot in the middle. And don’t worry, your dog will let you know when you are too close to the quick.
Listen to your dog. If you are cutting slowly enough you can stop before any damage is done. If you use a Dremel tool to grind the nails you can still open the quick. Repeat the same process as the clippers. Dremel bit by bit, always checking for the quick and listening to your dog.
When finished with the bath be sure to give your dog lots of love and well-deserved treats. This is quite the ordeal for them, but they’re just too cute when it is done.