Spring has finally come! Temperatures rising, flowers showing their heads. We feel the urge to get busy cleaning, and our dogs could probably use a little spring cleaning too. Winter baths are usually minimal, with quick wipe-downs or short baths, but Spring is the perfect time to give a really good soaking bath.

A lot of dogs dislike baths, so here are a few helpful tips to ensure a successful bath time.

  • Be sure that you choose a warm, draft-free place for bathing, and never let him outside following a bath during cool, windy weather. Although it is an accepted common practice, professionals discourage ever bathing a dog outside with the water hose. Outdoor water is too cold for your dog’s comfort even on the hottest day, and most dogs naturally hate being blasted with water from the hose. Warm water is an important consideration.
  • Tasty treats and favorite toys will convince your dog that baths can be fun. If your dog really hates baths, convince him that good things happen at bath time by feeding him treats every step of the way.
  • Brushes are a pre-bathing tool to remove the loose, dead hair from his coat before his bath. You will naturally take his collar off so you will have no effective way to hold onto him, so a handy-dandy slip lead.
  • Do not use human shampoo on your dog – use a pet shampoo that is pH formulated for your dog. A sponge or wash cloth is useful for gently soaping and rinsing, especially those sensitive, hard-to-reach areas. Check the nether regions to be sure everything looks okay, is clean, and shows no sign of trouble such as swelling, undue odor or discharge. This is a good time to do a thorough body check for any lumps or bumps that might need medical attention.
  • Many dogs are afraid of dryers, so unless you plan to just towel dry them, or let them dry naturally, you will need to use some type of dryer – a hand-held, human hair dryer may be used on a low heat setting, if not held too close to his body.

Ear infections strike dogs with unfortunate frequency, with documentation indicating that more than 20 percent of our canine population is affected by inflammation of the external ear, so conscientious cleaning is important because untreated infections can have serious consequences. Hopefully you regularly check your dog’s ears all year long, but spring cleaning should include a thorough check. Never use a Q-tip to clean ears. Fill the ear canal with vet approved ear cleaning solution, and massage the ear canal with a cosmetic pad. If you detect odor, redness or discharge, he needs a professional exam to determine the basis for the infection, and what treatment is needed.

The skin and coat around your dog’s eyes are sensitive areas, and should be cleaned regularly. Look closely at both of her eyes. They should be clear, bright, free of any discharge, and show no signs of inflammation. If her eyes produce an abundance of matter, it is time for a professional examination. Bacterial eye infections, glaucoma, and cataracts are leading causes of blindness and discomfort in dogs.

Check your pet’s feet for wintertime abrasions and cracks. The snow, ice, sidewalk melt, and other cold weather dangers have caused a lot of wear. If she has burrs, stones, dirt, or even too much untrimmed hair between her pads, she won’t be comfortable walking. Check for dryness and cracks. You can buy special paw pad moisturizing cream, or you may have something already on hand…lanolin cream and beeswax are great pad moisturizers. Mineral based products that are petroleum distillates are not recommended because they clog the surface of the skin. Keeping the nails trimmed is important, and if you trim them on a regular basis, your dog is probably comfortable with the procedure. If you have been negligent with this procedure, you may have to have a professional trim them, and then you can just keep them trimmed by snipping off just a tiny bit each week. Just don’t trim too much, and offer a reward each time.

Dogs need regular check- ups, and a professional spring cleaning appointment with your veterinarian is advised.

Spring is when you discover your freshly bathed dog enjoying a good roll in the nastiest stuff he can find!