Dog Manual


Bathing

Normally, dogs should not be bathed more than twice a month. The meticulous owner who keeps his animal thoroughly combed out at all times may find that the dog's appearance can be maintained rather creditably by bathing it only once a month. On the average, however, it will be found more advantageous to abide by the bi-monthly routine.

It has often been erroneously suggested that it is not advisable to bathe puppies before they are four to six months old. If human infants can be bathed soon after birth, then does it not seem foolish to believe that to bathe a puppy—relatively so much stronger than a human infant—is dangerous? This belief seems based on the mistaken notion that puppies that are bathed when they are too young will get distemper. The fact is that if a puppy is improperly dried after a bath, and is permitted to go out into the cold air, it might catch a cold and thus be more readily susceptible to distemper. However, if the animal is completely dry before being permitted outside, no harm will ever come of a bath regardless of the age of the animal. It is often even advisable, and sometimes necessary, to bathe a very young puppy, especially if it is very filthy or laden with fleas. It is thus perfectly safe to bathe a dog, regardless of age, provided that the simplest common-sense precautions are taken. And the essential one is that the animal must be thoroughly dry before being exposed to the open air.

The following bathing technique will give the best results. First, comb out all loose and matted hair with a fine-toothed
metal comb. Next, place the animal in an empty tub and tie the pet in such a way that, should the person who is giving the bath be called away for a moment, the animal is not free to hop out of the tub and make a general mess of the household. If you are a cautious person and are afraid of getting soap in the animal's eyes or ears, you may at this stage put a drop of mineral oil in each eye and plug the ears with absorbent cotton. But in most cases this refinement is neither necessary nor desirable. If soap happens to get into the dog's eyes, it can readily be washed out. As for the ears, if they are quite filthy, the simplest way to get them clean is to wash them thoroughly with soap and water. When rinsing the ears, the dog's head should be turned downward so that the flow of water can drain out of the ear rather than into it. By shaking its head the animal will get rid of any water that happens to remain.
The animal should be soaked with lukewarm water from a light shower spray. The animal will shake less and will be easier to handle if the head region is done last. The soaking is followed by lathering the animal with a fine, nonirritant, non-medicated ordinary soap or shampoo or special commercial dog preparation. Then the animal is thoroughly rinsed and dried.

The thoroughness of this final rinsing cannot be overemphasized. If even a small quantity of soap is left on the animal, a severe irritation of the skin may ensue. In fact, improper rinsing of dogs during bathing, veterinarians have found, is one of the commonest causes of eczemas. In rinsing an animal, not only should the shower spray be depended upon, but the bather should dig into the dog's hair with his fingertips to assist the action of the spray.

After the animal is dry, the hair should be combed out again. If this procedure is rigorously followed, the animal's coat will take on a sleek, silken appearance that will be very satisfying to both owner and dog.

In any discussion of bathing, the question often arises: What about dry shampoo? Bran, corn meal, Fuller's earth, and many other preparations have been recommended as dry shampoos for dogs. A moderate quantity of the selected material is rubbed into the animal's coat and then combed out with a fine-toothed comb. This seems to have a cleansing and deodorant effect. It is useful for dogs that have a neuro¬tic aversion to soap-and-water baths. But, at best, the dry shampoo cannot replace a soap-and-water shampoo. True, it is better than no shampoo at all, but the fact still remains that if a dog gets dirty enough to warrant giving it a bath, nothing better than soap, water, and good old "elbow grease" have ever been invented.

While bathing your animal, you might apply an antiseptic which will destroy any fleas, lice, or ticks that the animal might harbor, and will tend to prevent their recurrence. The chemical which gives the most consistent satisfaction is called malathion and details about its use should be obtained from your veterinarian.

Sometimes, in spite of every effort to maintain the cleanliness of the dog, the pet may still acquire an unpleasant odor before the next bathing time arrives. A tablet is now manufactured that will subdue or get rid of these odors. It is made from certain extractives of chlorophyl—the chemical which gives life to plants—and is similar in principle to the various types of wicks that are commonly used to control household odors. Your veterinarian will be very happy to tell you about it.