• Linda Healy

Bathing your dog

Removing Mats: Mats are tightly tangled hair usually pressed close to the dog's skin. When ignored, they can cause discomfort and skin irritation. Upon discovering a mat, use your fingers and a comb to untangle as much as possible. If the mat, or a portion thereof, cannot be untangled carefully cut it out by first placing a comb between the hair and the dog's skin, then trim out the clump with scissors. Since the mat is usually very close to the skin, the comb will act as a guard against cuts.

Bathing: To ensure a quality finish on the dog's exterior coating, you should bathe the animal on a regular basis. This experience can be an enjoyable one, especially if the dog is introduced to the process during puppy-hood. For most breeds, a bath ever few months should suffice, unless the animal tends to dirty itself more often. Brush the dog before bathing it to remove mats and tangles.

Caution: bathing the dog too frequently may lead to dry skin and/or skin irritation. If you must was the dog often, or own a breed predisposed to dry skin, use a canine-formulated conditioning shampoo.

1) Place a rubber mat in the bathtub. This will give the dog a secure footing and will help it relax

2) Be sure all supplies are withing reach.

3) Put a cotton ball in each of the dog's ears to keep out water.

4) Place the dog in the tub. If the canine is a large breed and you are unsure of your ability, seek help.

5) Rinse the dog thoroughly with warm water, using a spray hose, if available. Hold the nozzle as close to the dog's body as possible. Do not spray it in the face.

Tip: throughout the process, it is important to stroke and reassure the dog frequently (especially if it is not used to bathing).

6) Apply a dog - formulated shampoo, in small amounts, working from head to tail.

7) Be sure to wash the rear, toes and areas behind the ears and under the chin.

Caution: Avoid getting shampoo in the dogs eyes.

8) Rinse the dog thoroughly with warm water. Begin at the head. Squeeze excess water from the coat. Remove the cotton balls from his ears.

9) Dry the dog with a towel or hair dryer. Dogs with kinky or long coats, including the maltese, bichon frise and poodle look better blow dried. Keep the dryer on a low setting, and never direst the dryer into the dogs face.

Caution: Some breeds including basset hounds and many members of the spaniel family have very oily coats. If not bathed and properly groomed, the oil can become rancid and cause a dandruff - like condition called primary seborrhea. Medicinal shampoos can correct this problem. Consult your vet for advice.

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