Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Does your dog love or loathe the bath?

dog in the shower
Bosca is a bit too big for the bath but happy to take a shower...if he gets a massage.

Here at SAT we’re major fans of grooming. Not so much the bouffant-shaping kind as the keeping-fur-clean-and-eye-boogers-at-bay kind. And just to be clear I am talking about my dog.

In my experience a lot of clients worry about the prospect of over-grooming their pets, and it is possible – though rare. When my dog is itchy, the first thing I do (apart from look for fleas and flea dirt) is give him a wash. It removes surface allergens, soothes his skin and also allows me to inspect him very carefully.

When it comes to shampoos less is more. I avoid those that are scented or designed to whiten, and chose based on the state of his skin (I’m a fan of Dermcare’s Aloveen as a maintenance shampoo but if Phil has itchy skin I tend to select Malaseb). I don’t wash the inside of his ears. Putting water in ears is playing with fire (or, more literally, tempting otitis externa).

Washing is ONE PART of a multifactorial approach to itching. i.e. depending on the skin, I use adjunctive treatments including conditioner, moisturisers, antibiotics and even steroids. And again, good flea prevention. If you’ve got an itch-prone dog anyway, it just takes one pesky flea to send him over the itch threshold.

It really is worth making sure that giving your dog a bath is a positive experience. Some dogs love a bath but lots of them really loathe it and you can understand why – difficult-to-stand-on, slippery surfaces, cold water, scary noises, being manhandled and scrubbed on bits you don’t normally let people pat etc.

Approaching slowly, placing a non-slip surface, ensuring the water doesn’t run too fast (or loud), avoiding clanking showerheads against the bath, administering praise and treats – all of these can help reduce anxiety in the bath.

Also being less anxious yourself can help – if you dread your dog’s bath time, your dog picks up on that too. On that note, if its really a battle to bath your dog I am not a fan of forcing it. Its worth chatting to an experienced groomer or vet who offers grooming. We have the benefit of purpose-built facilities and extra-hands, both of which can make a difference. 

Life is just better if your dog enjoys bath time. Like this dog here (thanks Rachel for the link):