Like most canines, my dogs aren’t big fans of baths. However, it isn’t difficult to get them in the mood with a generous amount of tasty CANIDAE treats as a reward. My biggest challenge is avoiding flying water that leaves me wetter than the dog. It only takes a few seconds for a wet dog to shake off 70% of the water in his coat – 4 seconds to be exact. Nature provided an effective way for furry animals to quickly dry off, but it is physics that explains the mechanics of a wet dog shake.
Evolution is a process of natural selection that, over time, made subtle changes to increase the survival of mammals, insects, and other creatures. Somewhere in the process, furry animals evolved to use shaking as a means of quickly drying their coat. Having the ability to quickly shake off water is a survival technique used by furry mammals from the smallest mouse, to dogs and large predators like bears to help ward off hypothermia. A wet coat loses its ability to insulate by trapping warm air next to the skin. Shaking is not only an effective way of dispelling water, it also uses less energy than waiting for the sun to evaporate all of the water in a coat. A 60 pound dog, for example, would have to use up to 20% of his caloric intake to maintain his body heat while air drying; this isn’t a practical solution for a wet, furry animal, especially in a cold environment.
You run just the right amount of water at the perfect temperature while trying to convince your dog how good he’ll feel after his bath. The doggy shampoo you squirt over his coat has a pleasant smell, and your four legged friend is satisfied munching on CANIDAE treats while you scrub him from head to toe. A question arises, however, while drying off your pet – why doesn’t he smell as good as the shampoo you smeared all over him? Dogs definitely do have a unique wet dog smell, and there is science that can explain what causes it, which begins the minute water hits your dog’s skin.
Dogs may have a better nose than humans, but our nose is also pretty amazing. Microscopic molecules in the air enter the nose when we inhale, finding their way to specialized cells called olfactory sensory neurons located in the nasal cavity. The job of these cells is to recognize the chemical makeup of molecules and send the information to the brain via electrical signals where it’s decoded into a recognizable smell – a steak sizzling on a grill, the scent of a flower… or the smell of a wet dog.
If you have a dog with sensitive skin or a predisposition to skin conditions, you may have fallen into this circular trap – you need to bathe him more often because of the condition but the more you bathe him, the worse his skin condition seems to get. That’s because a regular dog bath can exacerbate his problem. Dogs with acute allergies or a propensity for other skin conditions need special care when receiving a bath.
Symptoms and Causes
In many cases, you will know if your dog is suffering from a skin condition simply by looking. Excess hair loss or bald spots are an indication of a problem, as are dry, flaky patches, scabs or rashes, lumps and bumps or anything out of the ordinary. If there are no visual indications, but you notice your dog chewing, scratching or licking himself excessively, then a skin condition may be the issue and you should make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the cause of the skin condition and the best treatment plan.
A variety of things can cause skin conditions for dogs. The most obvious reason is fleas and/or an allergic reaction to them. Other external parasites could also be the culprit. It could be a result of an infection, hormonal or metabolic issues, allergies, yeast overgrowth, stress and boredom, or even a reaction to the shampoo or grooming products you are currently using on your pet.
Dogs do need to be bathed on occasion, and you need to choose the right shampoo to get your canine friend clean. Their skin and fur attracts dirt, debris and pests which can cause health problems. A stinky dog can also smell up a house quickly, and get furniture and bedding filthy.
Don’t use products designed for humans for bathing your dog, no matter how much you like the smell of them. They’re not meant to be used on dogs. Don’t use dish detergent either, as it can be caustic and can burn their skin. The added chemicals and perfumes from these types of products may also cause allergic reactions or make your dog’s skin worse. The strong scents can be agitating to a dog’s super sensitive nose as well.
Look for a shampoo designed specifically for canine care with healthy ingredients such as aloe or oatmeal for moisturizing and cleaning. When buying dog shampoo, keep in mind that an adult dog may have different sensitivities and needs than a puppy does, so be sure to buy age appropriate products. Getting the right dog shampoo will help to keep his fur and skin healthy.
We live on the coast of South Carolina. If you are familiar with this area, you may have become acquainted with pluff mud (aka plough mud), a slippery, oozy, brownish, grayish, viscous sucking mud. This slimy mud, which is abundant around our tidal flats and salt marshes, has an accompanying aroma that is like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. I’m not sure I can accurately describe the smell in words but I can tell you this, it’s nearly impossible to wash out of dog fur. The mud itself takes a firm hand and lots of elbow grease to remove, but that smell has a lingering quality that you almost have to get used to. I often say our dogs smell like a combination of popcorn and pluff mud.
Our dogs get into pluff mud a lot. One of our favorite places to let them run is deep in a small island not far from our house. Of course the island is rife with the stuff and our dogs love to romp through it. Not to digress too far off topic, but you have to be careful around pluff mud because you can sink into it and get stuck. So can dogs. Just saying.
Every time we take the pups for off-leash playtime, we know we’re going to have a long, intense grooming session afterwards. Fortunately, they are used to the routine and understand that “if you want to play, you’ve got to pay” so they stand by patiently as we soap them up and wash them down.
If you are a new dog owner or your dog has recently discovered the joys of pluff mud (or skunk chasing or stink rolling, etc.), here are three grooming mistakes to avoid.
A larger dog can be more difficult to bath than a small dog that you can simply pick up to put in the water. If a large dog is resistant to bathing, it can be quite the ordeal convincing him that he needs a bath. Dealing with bathing can turn into a unpleasant task if they aren’t cooperating. Make bathing an enjoyable experience for both you and your big dog with these tips.
Set everything out ahead of time that you will need to give your dog a bath. That way, you won’t be darting out to get the things in the middle of bathing and wrestling a resistant dog. Put the shampoo and towels in easy reach. A dog can have an allergic reaction to shampoo made for humans, so be sure to use a shampoo specifically made for dogs.
Choose an Appropriate Bathing Area
A walk-in shower, regular bathtub or large portable bathing tub that can be used indoors or out, work well for a large dog. In warm weather, an outside bath might be the best option. If it is very hot, a nice cool dip in a bathing tub or quick scrubbing with a garden hose will help the dog stay cool in the heat. It is more difficult to contain a squirming dog outdoors though.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.