Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Bath time!  When bath time involves a dog it can be a fun experience.  Not all dogs react like the dogs in the old silent movies who did their best to outwit their masters and avoid bathing in a washtub full of soapy water.

Bathing Annie is definitely a totally different experience from grooming Buddy.  Annie runs around and walks enough to wear her nails down - we never have to trim them.  City living and concrete see to that.  If you don't walk your dog enough or live in a rural area with less concrete that we have in Brooklyn, you'll need to trim nails on a regular basis.  This can be accomplished at the vet or by a groomer or you, if you are a do-it-yourself-er.

If you are going to do this yourself, get a good pair of clippers (do your research) and read up on how it's done.  I strongly suggest a session with the vet to have someone demonstrate it the first time and watch you clip a nail or two before you attempt to do this on your own.  When trimming the nails of a dog with light colored nails it's easy to see the quick but dark nails hide the quick thus making this chore trickier if the dog has dark nails.  If you cut the quick the dog will bleed - it's very painful so you need to practice 'less is more' when cutting a dog's nails.

For the bath itself, I recommend some sort of plastic bucket or pitcher to pour water over your dog, a mild shampoo (preferably a castile or baby shampoo), a washcloth and a couple of fluffy towels.  Since Annie is 42 lbs. my brother and I will both handle her during her bath.  One of us will wet her down and the other soaps her up.  Soap from the neck down, making sure to wash the chest, undersides, all four legs, the hind quarter, all the way to the tip of the tail.  Once you have a good lather, rinse and keep rinsing until the water runs clear.  I wash Annie's face with a washcloth.  Wet the cloth well and wring it out, do not use soap.  Annie is used to this so I will wipe her face, muzzle, forehead and top of her head as well as the backs of her ears.

If your dog thinks this is fun and games time (as Annie does) make sure the bathroom door is tightly closed or your dog will shake water all over the house.  Having furniture and bedding used as towels isn't a fun thing to experience either so make sure your dog is confined during the drying off part of the bath.  We immediately cover Annie with a large towel, moving her haunches from side to side to get her to shake off the water.  Shaking is natural so don't discourage it just make sure the dog has a towel on them or else you and your surroundings will get soaked.

After we get Annie calmed down, I put a few drops of Epi-Otic in one ear and massage the base of the ear to clean inside.  Then, very carefully, I use a gauze pad to clean the inside of the ear removing as much wax and dirt as possible (don't push inside).  Repeat the process with the other ear.

Finally, we make a big fuss over Annie.  This helps reinforce bath time as fun.  If she wants to, we will play catch with her or chase her around for awhile until she's had enough fun and decides to relax.

Frequent bathing is ideal.  Your aim is to keep pollutants off the skin.  Dogs ingest them in the normal course of grooming.  We try to hold to a schedule of a bath a month because it is very time consuming, however, if you want do bathe your dog once a week that's OK.  Less, more, whatever you decide just try to bathe on a regular basis.

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