Are you preparing to entertain guests in your home this holiday season? You’ve got the house cleaned and decorated, the food is all ready to be cooked, and the table is set. But amidst all the shopping and cleaning have you forgotten about the dog? Riverside resident, Brandy Marshall, and her roommate have five pets in their home. “We didn’t always have this many animals in our lives,” she laughs as she reminisces. “I had one dog, Mikey, my golden retriever, that I would take to the groomer once a month. When I moved in with my roommate, Amber, she brought her Boston Terrier along. Then we opened our home to foster a couple of Chihuahuas, who ended up staying with us. And about six months ago we found an abandoned kitten in our front yard. So, we have a full house now.” When asked about grooming Brandy shares, “Since the other animals all have short fur we are able to groom them ourselves. And to cut down on costs I now only take Mikey to the groomer seasonally for haircuts or special occasions. But having this many pets makes grooming a full day event.”
We all know grooming can be a chore, especially if your pup hates baths, but sending him to the groomer can cost you a pretty penny. If you are up to the task you can bathe your dog yourself all the time or in between groomer visits to ensure he smells good more often and to keep your grooming costs low.
Start with a simple bath…
Preparation: Pick a shampoo and conditioner that will meet all of your needs. Consider your dog’s skin type; Does he need odor control, moisturizing, or medicated shampoo? (ie. For dry, itchy skin consider oatmeal shampoo and/or conditioner.) You may also consider special seasonal scents that are available this time of year. You may find shampoo and conditioner with special smells like cinnamon, hot chocolate, harvest spice, peppermint, apple pie, and more. Also, depending on the extent of your dog’s dirty ears, you may need to pick up animal ear cleaner.
Step 1: Place clean cotton balls in your dogs ears to prevent water from getting in his ears and causing an infection.
Step 2: (A bath tub works best) Using lukewarm water, get your dogs entire coat wet. To wet his face, use a washcloth to avoid irritation.
Step 3: (Using a pH-balanced shampoo) Apply enough shampoo to lather your dog’s entire body, from the top of his head to his toes and his tail. Don’t forget his belly and underarms/legs but avoid his face and eyes (use a washcloth on his muzzle if it needs to be cleaned, but be careful not to get shampoo in his eyes).
Step 4: Rinse thoroughly while sliding your fingers along your dog’s coat to ensure you get all the soap out. Left in soap can attract dirt and increase your dog’s change of matting his fur.
Step 5: (Using a pH-balanced conditioner) Apply a conditioner to your dog’s coat to prevent tangles and a dried out coat. Most conditioners require that they sit on the coat for 2 minutes or more. You can use this time to brush your dog’s teeth, clip his nails, or express his anal glands so the time passes quickly.
Step 6: Rinse thoroughly while sliding your fingers along your dog’s coat to ensure you get all the conditioner out as left in conditioner can also attract dirt.
Step 7: Use a dry, clean towel to dry off your dog. No matter how well you towel dry your dog, be prepared for him to shake as soon as he gets the chance. You may encourage him to do this before you start towel drying to help get rid of excess water first.
Step 8: The cotton balls in his ears can then be used to wipe the inside of the ears to remove loose dirt. If his ears need more cleaning than a cotton wipe apply animal specific ear cleaner and follow the directions on the bottle.
- Never use human shampoo or conditioner as it has a different pH balance and the chemicals are too harsh.
- Towel drying your dog is best, but if you do use a blow dryer use the lowest setting as dog skin can burn easily. Blow drying (on a low setting) is good for puppies or kitten as they get cold faster.
- With proper up-keep you can go six to eight weeks between groomer visits (or in-home grooming). Just be careful not to bathe your dog more often than every two weeks as it can dry out his skin and take away the natural oils that make his coat healthy and shiny.