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How to Bathe a Dog Without Going Insane …

June 24, 2013

OK, so the title might be a little bit of an overstatement, but I thought I could share a few things I have learned about dog baths over the last few years.

First, a quick update on Cooper: He has yet another condition. Yep. Apparently the digestive tract ailment wasn’t enough. He had to suddenly develop some strange skin condition that I can only equate to seborrheic dermatitis in humans.

It all started with some dry skin along his back, but as I started inspecting his hair, I realized he had tiny clusters of flaky and scaly skin. When I took him to the vet, she was immediately concerned that he might have a bacterial infection. Fortunately, the swab she took came back negative. As she looked at him further, she asked if his hair seemed to be oilier than normal. I, honestly, told her it was hard for me to tell because he had such an oily coat as a pup that I had to bathe him every two weeks with medicated shampoo to get it under control.

She nodded knowingly.

Yep, another Cooper idiom for me to “enjoy.” Bad skin. Or flaky hair? Either way, it requires more time and attention.

Right now, he has to be bathed twice a week with special shampoo to try to get the condition under control. Oh, and I have to completely soap him up and rinse him twice, with the shampoo remaining on his coat for a minimum of five minutes during the second treatment.

I can’t say he loves it, even though he relishes the chance to jump in any puddle or pool available to him, but then again, what dog really loves being bathed?

Thankfully, I have done a few things right along the way from puppy-dom to adulthood that have made these things a whole lot easier.

  1. I bathed him fairly regularly as a pup. Of course, that was because I had to since he had such oily skin, but it definitely helped. When he was really tiny, I bathed him in the kitchen sink, but he really didn’t like that. Amazingly, he did far better when I moved him to the tub. When I made the transition, I placed a special mat in the bottom of the tub to keep him from slipping. I can’t say that it helped, but he did seem more confident. Eventually, I didn’t have to use it anymore, but I was grateful to have it when I first moved him to the big tub.
  2. Somewhere along the way (before Cooper came along), I learned a very, very, very important dog-grooming tip: Always completely wet, wash and rinse their body first. Only when that is done should you move to wash and rinse their neck and head. For some reason, dogs don’t feel the need to shake the water out of their coat until their heads and necks are wet. Until then, you can pretty well count on them holding off any full-body shaking.
  3. When Cooper was young, I taught him that he couldn’t jump over a barrier without permission. I did this so that I could place baby gates throughout the house, which would give the cats the chance to escape him when they needed to. Interestingly, he transferred this restriction not just to baby gates (which is where we started), but to all small walls, fences or gates. That apparently includes the bathtub. He will generally act like he is going to jump out at least once each bath, but all I have to do is tell him “uh huh” and he immediately stops and just stares at me. Waiting. And pouting. Like the entire world is against him.

Bath 1

Bath 2

Bath 3

Bath 4

The good news is that the prednisone Cooper is on for his stomach apparently kept his skin issue from being any worse. The condition is usually pretty itchy and can cause dogs to lose their hair. Cooper, thankfully, has been no worse for the wear.

From → Animals, Cooper

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