Welcome to Daisy’s Rescue. We are all about helping people and rescue groups to learn helpful tricks and tips on how to take care of your dog(s). We are here for you to help with useful information on all types of routine dog care. Please feel free to leave comments and questions you may have for us. For your convenience we have added links to the products that we like to use, here in the article for you to find them more easily.
Today’s session is about washing your dog.
Now we know what your thinking…. “Do I really need to be told how to wash my dog?” The answer is no, but there is more to washing your dog then, well “washing your dog”. Washing your dog does so many positive things from helping to create a bond between you and your dog, to allowing you a really examine them throughly. During a recent bath-time with our dogs and we found a tick on one, a hot spot on the tail of another, a lump on the rib cage of a foster, these would have taken longer to find had we not been bathing them. Let’s face it having the fur wet provides you a view of your dog and can reveal things that are hidden beneath it.
When we take our dogs to the vet’s office they are always amazed that we catch so many little “problems” on our dogs so early on and the reason we do, has always been a bath. We found 3 tiny mammary tumors on our old girl, Duchess. We also discovered a swollen lymph node on my Daisy, which was then checked out by our vet. The secret to knowing our dogs so well is simple, it’s because we run our hands over them and bathe them on a regular basis.
I know, many of you are saying, “my dog hates baths”. Why is that? Have you ever noticed that a dogs normal temperature is warmer than ours? One reason your dog may not like to take a bath is that the water maybe too cold. Think about how you feel when the water heater is on the fritz and you had to take a chilly shower. The water used to bathe dogs should be warmer than you would have it for yourself, NOT scolding, but on the warmer side of comfortable. Next, does your dog feel uncomfortable in the tub? In older dogs, especially we have found the need for it to be less slippery for them to feel “safe”. Now I am not recommending ducky appliqués in the bottom of your tub but a great trick is to lay a towel in the bottom for your pupper to stand on and bang instant traction.
Since this article is really more about examining your dog than actually washing your dog, I will only briefly cover washing. There are many different shampoo’s available on the market today. You can buy everything from whitening and conditioning shampoo’s to flea shampoo’s. While doing research on these I discovered some interesting things. If you have a dog that you know or suspect has a grain allergy, you really don’t want a grain based shampoo, like oatmeal. Also, if your dog has a yeast infection on it’s skin, you don’t want to use oatmeal either, it seems that yeast like to feed on sugar, grains are carbohydrates which turn into sugar readily and therefore feed the yeast. So on a side note, if you have a yeast infected dog, no grains, that means food and/or shampoo.
When we have had few flea problems in the past, and we all do from time to time, I received a lot of recommendations to use Dawn dish detergent. I was also told that it really doesn’t matter what shampoo you use as long as the dogs stays covered in soapy suds for more than five minutes. Any shampoo that stays on the dog for longer than fives minutes will kill fleas so what you need is good soapy suds. Whenever we bring in a new foster dog to stay in our home the 1st thing they receive is the flea removing bath in, you guessed it, Dawn dish soap. Works every time.
Since flea’s head for the dogs head when they get wet start there and work back toward the tail. I wet the dog’s head and soap up the lower head and neck to keep any fleas down on the body. I do not put soap on top of the dog’s head to avoid getting soap in their eyes and I avoid soap in the ears too. I rinse down the dog to get him wet then I apply the shampoo or soap over the body. I very carefully massage the dogs body with my hands. I cover and feel every inch of the dogs body and give the dog a nice massage. I rinse the shampoo off with warm water, then I soap the dog up again. I get in between his toes, under the “arm pits”, I look at the feet and look at the nails, the pads of the feet and the leg joints. This is exactly what I am trying to tell you its a great time to really inspect your dog.
I start at the head at the ears and I work down. I massage and feel the head. I look for bumps and scratches. If your dog has long fur, now is the time to find ticks and abnormal growths, like warts and skin tabs. Along the neck, I do the same, feel the skin looking for anything abnormal. Massaging the back and ribs, can offer important clues to the health of your dog. Long haired dog especially make it hard to easily observe abnormalities. Feeling along the spine looking for ticks, thickening skin, rashes, bumps, growths and the spine its self. When you run your hand down the dog’s sides, you should feel the ribs under a very thin layer of fat. You should be able to feel each rib, but not see the ribs. If the spine and the ribs are easily felt and has deep depressions in between each rib or back bone, your dog is too thin. Since you are at the ribs, move your hands forward and feel the chest and toward the rear and feel the abdomen. Make sure you feel under the front arms and the rear legs. In this area feel for small bumps. Here is where the lymph nodes are located. Feeling small pea sized “balls” under the skin could mean an enlarged lymph node. Enlarged lymph nodes could mean an infection somewhere so see the vet. Bumps on the back, along the ribs or on the chest could be fatty tumors. Any bumps around the area of the nipples could be mammary tumors, if caught while small, they are easily removed. I have found mammary tumors as small as half the size of a “BB”..yep, during a bath. Feel down each leg looking for tender areas, swollen areas. Look and feel in between each toe on the feet, look for ulcers, cuts, swelling and growths. This is also a good time to look at the nails. Look in the ears, for dirty wax, the ears should not smell or be red. Look at the base of the tail, this is where fleas love to hide and is a common place that becomes inflamed and irritated. ** An important note, when you are inspecting your dog, pay attention to your dog’s reactions to your massage. If your dog yawns or starts to lick his lips, that is a sign of pain. This is a clue that there may be a problem with your dog.
After your done washing your dog try to get them as dry as possible make sure that includes drying inside those ears with the towel. I also have a portable space heater that we use to warm up the bathroom so its comfortable for them during the drying off faze. After your done, its a sure thing that if you paid attention will know a lot more about your dog then you did going in.
A few brief suggestions if you don’t like the mess that giving your dog a bath can create in your tub then head on out to one of your local retail pet stores and for a nominal price you can bathe “Spike” there and leave the mess/ cleanup to them. Also, those situations are helpful with accomodating larger size dogs and are generally raised to height were you wont be kneeling or bent over a tub. Lastly, I recommend a special tasty treat that you only give your dog after the bath so he starts to associate baths with good things.
Thank you for joining us today at Daisy’s Rescue (www.daisysrescue.com), we hope that you enjoyed todays article and that you found it helpful. Please remember to visit and like our Face Book page at www.facebook.com/daisysrescue . You can email Daisy at firstname.lastname@example.org .