Wet Dogs

The crazy rainy weather seems to be behind us, it’s now scorching hot. So what do we do…we head to the lakes and rivers and of course our four-legged friends come too.

The lab in Finn is attracted to water and he loves the lake here. He’s not so much of a swimmer more a wader and to be honest I think he sees a lake as a giant drinking bowl. With fur that grows into tight curls it becomes water-logged quickly and despite the full body shake, retains an awful “wet dog smell” that permeates the entire car on the drive home. Does this sound familiar?
According to the American Kennel Club, “wet dog smell” is due to the yeast and bacteria that live in dog fur, not the dog itself. These microorganisms regularly release volatile compounds as they live out their lives on the skin and hair of our canine pets, but we don’t smell them beyond the regular musky smell on a dry dog.
Some breeds, most notably the hound group, have more oils in their coats than other breeds.

The specific oil is called sebum, it collects on the hair shaft and follicles to protect a dog’s skin from dehydration. When the dog gets wet, like after a day at the beach or a lake, the oil and the water together create a bacteria which causes the unpleasant odour. The dog needs to be properly dried to avoid smelling like a… well… a dog. https://iheartdogs.com

It doesn’t hurt to give your dog a bath with a good smelling dog shampoo, though not too often.

Some obvious points to consider when giving a bath:

  • Reassure your dog. Lots of dogs don’t like being given a bath, not that this is a problem with Finn. He will happily jump into the tub, of course this could be something to do with the peanut butter I spread along the far ledge! ~Brush your dog first. This is to ensure that there are no tangles or matted fur. Matted hair holds water which can leave you dog with irritated skin.
  • Keep the water at a warm temperature and make sure you test it before washing your dog.
  • Soak your dog’s body in warm water and ensure their fur is nice and wet, especially underneath.
  • Add the dog shampoo. Squeeze out a small amount and rub the shampoo into the body until it lathers and be sure to rinse it off thoroughly.
  • And if you have a Finn, keep the jar of peanut butter handy.

This time last year, Finn had a different water experience. He started having mobility problems in his back end. After many tests, ruling out all kinds of conditions and having different medications and therapies, he was suddenly back to normal..well normal for him anyway.

I actually believe that it may have been a trapped nerve or pulled muscle as he responded to regular massage and hydrotherapy. He had regular visits to the Canine Fitness Centre in Calgary working with the physical rehabilitation aids. Getting into the tank was no problem for him, I think I was more nervous for him on the first session.

The hydrotherapy involved exercising on an underwater treadmill, which in 2004 was the first of it’s kind in Canada. Exercising in water provides the advantages of buoyancy, stability and hydrostatic pressure. The warm water helps the muscles and decreases pain. I can’t say enough about the wonderful team there and the care Finn received.

I do hope you and you dogs have a wonderful summer wherever it takes you and on a final note, remember to take water with you on all your trips and keep your dog hydrated on the inside too.


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