Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Importance of Keeping Your Pet Clean

"Clean Dogs Are Healthy Dogs"
The Importance of Keeping Your Pet Clean

I have heard and seen to often, owners pushing their pet away telling them "Go away, you stink". Sadly, the pet doesn't know why it is being rejected by its beloved human. He may be thinking, "What did I do wrong that you won't hug and cuddle with me", which, by the way, puts stress on the animal.

As a long time professional pet groomer and vet tech, I had experienced dogs and cats with many different odors. I along with several other techs and groomers did a study on the odor of 100's of dogs. Certain breeds have a unique odor, as well as dogs of certain colors. Black dogs when wet, smell similar no matter what breed they are, as well as white dogs of any breed. Dogs with different types of coats have a distinctive odor. Long thick coats, short dense coats, and curly coats all have their own unique odor. These particular testings were done on clean or wet dogs. This is not to say the order is bad, it is just a certain type of odor.

Now we will take a look at the dirty dogs. Dirt mixed with other odors can be foul smelling as well as unhealthy for both the pet and their humans. Many people have been told at some point in their lives, that too many baths can hurt your pet or dry out their coats. Have you ever watched a dog show on TV and admired the gorgeous dogs in the show? Do you think the show dogs get bathed only a couple of times a year? They are bathed frequently to keep their whites as white as can be, and their coats fluffy and clean. Most people bathe their pets only 1-4 times per year. Personally, I bathe my Alaskan Malamutes every 2 weeks. The famous Cesar Milan (the dog whisperer) bathes his dogs once a week. Why should a pet be bathed so often you may ask? Have you ever seen the coat and skin of a dirty dog under a microscope? Probably not. If you did, you would have nightmares for a month, and know what I am talking about.

"Washing A Dog"
First we have to look at the location where the dog lives. City life may seem simple where your pet is just going in and out for potty time. But the oils, and pollution from trains, planes, and automobiles floating in the air, can build up on your pets coat over time. If you live in dry areas with sand mixed in the soil, your pet will have particles of dust and sand in his coat. Areas with red clay mixed in the soil, may stain your pets coat from the red color of the clay, as well as pick up other particles within the soil. Swampy or humid areas will bring moisture to the coat and may cause mildew to form in areas around the collar, arm pits, bellie, etc. All of these things can cause irritation to the skin. Ants, gnats, dust mites, and mosquitoes, are some of the insects that may attach themselves to your pets coat while they are outdoors. Your pet may be bringing all of the things mentioned here into your home. On rainy days, my long coat malamute had brought earthworms into the house which were on her coat while she briefly laid down on the ground. Pretty gross. But most of the stuff your pet may bring in, you may not see or know about.

Second, think of all of these things on your pet. If you have more than one pet, they will be bringing things in as well. Not only on a weekly basis, but for months at a time, as long as the pet is not clean. There are too many pets taken to shelters due to allergies within the family who may be allergic to their pets. This can be prevented with frequent baths, whether the pet is stinky or not. My sister is allergic to cats. I had a long coat cat for almost 19 years. My sister was the one who took care of the cat while my husband and I were away on vacation. She didn't need medication to stop her allergy to my cat. The reason for that, is because I bathed it every 4 weeks. Cats have a very high level of bacteria in their mouths. They clean themselves several times a day. What do they clean themselves with? Their tongue of course. So they are putting that bacteria right onto their coats. Not to mention the dust and dander as well. If they are bathed often, those things will not collect on the cats coat and cause as many allergies.

Dirt, dander, and nicotine, make a thick coating of grayish white film on the pets coat. If you take a powerful pet dyer and blow the dry coat, you will see all of that blowing into the air along with the dead coat. You and your family are actually breathing this in on a daily basis. If you allow your pets on your carpets and furniture, it is in there as well. This can cause irritations in your nose, throat and eyes, and contribute to the sinus infections, colds, flues and red eyes that you and your family may get throughout the year.

Thirdly, keeping your pet clean is not only healthy for you and your pet, but it is also bonding time as well. Brush your pet every day. Even if the books say to do it weekly. Your pet will love the time you spend together with him. By brushing your pet, you can find debris, bugs, lumps, tangles, etc. on their coat or skin and take care of it immediately instead of finding out about it months later. Once I was brushing one of my malamutes, and found a huge lump on her back. I freaked out thinking it was a tumor. How could I have not noticed that lump before I asked myself. Well it turned out to be an allergic reaction to a bite she got from a millipede. If I didn't find it when I did, she may have had a bigger reaction and died. Brushing also helps loosen the dead coat and prevent the pet from shedding all over the house and furniture.

Bathing your pet
Use a gentle shampoo such as Nature's Choice Aloe Basic. Do not use a shampoo that has heavy perfumes in it. It can dry out the coat and is hard on the sensitive nose of the animal. Cats can be bathed often as well. Use very warm (not hot) water to bathe them. Turn the water on before putting the pet in the tub so it doesn't scare them. If you prefer, take the cat to a groomer to bathe.

Be sure to get the water and shampoo down to the skin. You may use a conditioner or moisturizers to keep the hair from static in winter months. Also use vitamin E or fish oil in their diets to help keep their skin and coat looking great.

"Dry the Coat Completely"
Use a powerful force dryer like the K9 2 on medium to large animals or those with heavy undercoats. It does a great job at removing dead coat, and dries the coat down to the skin. For smaller or older dogs, use the smaller metro dyer. If the dog is air dried, the undercoat does not dry properly and will cause the coat to get mildew, especially on Labs and Huskies.

Bathing your pet often will bring you and your pet closer together, and they will love you for it. Check out Pet Edge for great grooming products at PetEdge.com.

About the Author:
Anna Grob has worked with animals for over 25 years as a vet assistant and professional all breed pet groomer. She studied the art of grooming for competitons and attended many workshops and seminars, while working side by side with well known groomers and judges.

Anna participated in a study for many animal related projects such as animal behavior, skin and coat health and animal enrichment.

Anna is a docent volunteer at Brookfield Zoo near Chicago. She has studied wolves, coyotes, and related canids. She is an Award winning artist, and an author and illustrator of Childrens Books. Anna's first book A Coyote Who Wished He Lived In A Zoo was released last year. Her second book A Wild Dog Without a Patch will be released 2013.


How Sam Sees It said...

I'm so glad you posted this article. I wash our pups every two weeks (except winter - every three weeks) for many of the reasons you posted above. People always comment on how beautiful our boys are. I thought I was the only one who thought this way!


Allen Pearson said...

Thank you for your comment. My humans take me to a groomer every so often and I love it. Gets me nice and clean!! Noah

dog groomer new york said...

That's a great post - thanks for sharing.

Allen Pearson said...

You're welcome- enjoy sharing with my readers.