dog health

How to Bathe Your Dog at Home

Living with Pets, Pet Health, Dog GroomingJanet BreyComment
Washing you dog at home can have some great benefits.  Photo by Autri Taheri on Unsplash

Washing you dog at home can have some great benefits. Photo by Autri Taheri on Unsplash

Call me crazy, but I prefer to groom my dog at home instead of bringing him to the dog groomer. The main reasons I choose to bathe my dog at home are:

  • Less stress on my dog who equates car trips with a vet visit

  • Less stress on my wallet as grooming costs can add up

  • Quality time spent with my dog

There are other benefits to bathing your dog at home. You chose the time; you choose the shampoo and the have the peace of mind that exceptional care was taken not to get water in the ears or soap in the eyes.

On the other side, bathing a dog a home can be a challenge. Over the years of bathing large dogs, I have discovered some tips to ease the challenges of bathing a dog at home.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

When I asked the veterinarian how often I should bath my Labrador, he said every 3 months was plenty. Seemed a bit on the light side so I did some additional research. I found that dog bathing frequency depends - depends on the breed, the environment, where the dog has been, and any existing skin conditions.

According to Your Dog Advisor, your dog’s coat will determine how often you should bathe your dog:

  • Oily coat - If you have a dog with an oily coat you may have to bathe as often as once a week. Breeds with oily coats are Newfoundlands, Alaskan Malamutes, Basset Hounds.

  • Water-repellent coat – Dogs that have water-repellent coats should be bathed less often as they have natural oils in their coats that actually keep dirt away from the skin. Breeds with water-repellent coats are Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.

  • Short-hair, smooth coat – Breeds such as Beagles or Boston Terriers do not need frequent bathing.

  • Double coated – Australian Shepherds and Alaskan Huskies have double coats (lots of shedding!) and do better with less frequent bathing. These breeds really need to be brushed daily. This will eliminate those awful mattes, remove dirt and debris as well as distribute natural oils through their coat.

Tips for Bathing Your Dog at Home

A long hose makes it much easier when in the bath tub.  Photo by Autri Taheri on Unsplash

A long hose makes it much easier when in the bath tub. Photo by Autri Taheri on Unsplash

Based on my own experience and a bit of research, here are some tips to help you have a better dog washing experience.

Step 1 - Get Your Tools Ready (and keep within reach before your dog gets in the bath)

  • Rubber bathmat – in sink or bathtub. Stops slipping and stress.

  • Shampoo – use dog shampoo. Conditioner is optional.

  • Sprayer hose attachment. Longer hose makes life easier

  • Washcloth (2)  or sponge (2) - Need a clean one for the face area

  • Small bucket to dilute the shampoo - saves you in the rinse cycleWide tooth brush (long thick coats) and regular dog brush - gets out extra hair or knots

  • Assorted size towels - I like a small one for head and a large for body

  • Hair dryer  — A long cord is helpful and use a low heat setting 

  • Drain hair catcher - I think this is critical as I am always amazed at the hair it catches

  • Dog Treats or Toy (optional) - Rewards the good behavior

Step 2 - Dog Bath Process Tips

  • Brush and  comb hair to loosen knots and loosen dirt. If your dog has a lot of mattes, you may be able to remove them before the bath. Mattes retain water, pull skin and can be irritating. If really bad, go to a professional dog groomer.

  • Place the rubber mat in the tub or sink.

  • Lay a towel down in front of the tub and roll one up to kneel on.

  • Run the water ahead of time to get it to a lukewarm temperature.

  • Invite your dog into the bathroom with a treat. My lab will jut step in the tub whereas my Aussie Shepard has to be bribed.

  • Talk softly and calmly to your dog through the entire bath. A treat or two does not hurt either.

  • Wet the dog, starting at the back and working up toward the head. Do not wet the head as you will wash the head area last with a washcloth or sponge.

  • Using your sponge or washcloth, dip into the diluted shampoo. Diluting helps you avoid using too much shampoo.  Too much shampoo makes it hard to get a good rinse as you need to get all the soap out to avoid skin dryness.

  • Start the washing on the back of the dog and then the chest. Work back towards the tail. Wash the tail and private areas last. Put that washcloth/sponge aside.

  • Rinse your dog thoroughly – until no soap in the water.  Lastly, with a clean washcloth, wash the dog’s head – tilt the head back as you do not want to get soap in the eyes or water in the ears.

As soon as I turn off the water, my dogs wants to jump out of the tub. I firmly give the stay command and wrap a large towel around him, as if it is a robe. Then I quickly grab a small towel and dry his head and ears. If my boy is not ready to jump, I take another small towel and dry his legs and tail.

Time for a big hug! Image.  Photo by Sasha Sashina on Unsplash

Time for a big hug! Image. Photo by Sasha Sashina on Unsplash

Once out, I rub my lab a few more times with the large towel. Now, the Aussie should be squeezed dry - more than rubbed as vigorous rubbing can cause tangling. 

All done? Time for a big hug! And, now that I have a clean dog, I want to make sure he lies on a clean dog bed. I make sure to put on a clean sheet on the dog bed - a fresh PawSheet. Since they are so easy to remove and replace, I can do this immediately after the bath.

If you have any tips or suggestions, please share.



How To Feed a Puppy - 5 Do's and Don'ts

Living with PetsJanet BreyComment
Super Cute Puppy PawSheets.jpg

Feeding a puppy

Get your pup started on the path to a happy and healthy life!

You are all excited - you just brought your new puppy home. You have the crate, dog bed, pee pads, the harness, the leash - and the dog food.

As puppies are in a high growth stage, they have different needs than an adult dog. This means that you should feed a puppy food that is designed for puppies. What I found to be very interesting is that puppy food is not only formulated to meet a puppy’s special nutritional needs, but formulated to limit the puppy’s growth rate. According veterinarian, Dr. Gary Richter, a puppy who grows too fast can be at a greater risk for hip dysplasia as he/she gets older.

A great resource on feeding a puppy is The Ultimate Puppy Feeding Guide . It is packed with all kinds of useful information - what kind of food to get, how much and how often to feed, how to tell if your pup is at a good weight, and my favorite: The 5 Puppy Feed Tips (below).

  1. Don't buy too much food at once - best to buy a 1 month supply

  2. Don't give your puppy human food - this can set the stage for trouble in the future

  3. Transition foods gradually - this avoids a shock to their system

  4. Switch over to adult food around one year of age - this can vary a bit by breed

  5. Set a regular feeding schedule - get those good eating habits in early

With the exception of #4, all of these tips also pertain to adult dogs. I admit that I learned the hard way - not to change food or schedules or I end up cleaning up a big mess.

Feel free to share your thoughts on these tips and check out the guide.

Image by Poodles 2 Doodles @ pexels.

What's Crawling In Your Pet's Bed? Tips for Washing Your Pet Bed

Pet HealthJanet Brey1 Comment
        Do you know what is hiding in your pet's bed?

        Do you know what is hiding in your pet's bed?

Hot Tips for Washing a Pet Bed

It is no surprise that a dog bed is a magnet for hair and dirt, but did you know that it can also harbor flea eggs and larva, ticks and other parasites? According Dr. Heidi Maher, Medical Director of The Truesdell Animal Care Hospital and Clinic in Madison Wisconsin, bedding should be washed with a mild fragrance and die free detergent weekly or when it becomes dirty. Water should be warm (130° or higher) and dry on high for 20 minutes.

If you or someone in your home has asthma or allergies, clean bedding will keep pet dander and hair to a minimum. Washing bedding regularly is very important to remove parasites eggs and flea dirt.  It also eliminates the odor of a stinky dog bed!

An Easier Way Then Washing

PawSheets offer an alternative to frequent dog bed washing. What makes them so convenient is that they are easy to take on and off and are made of a polyester and cotton blend. They are durable, do not shrink or fade and still provide a nice comfy feel for your pet. So you can use a hot water and a hot dry setting to rid the dog bed sheet of fleas, spiders, ticks and other dirty stuff.

PawSheets Fit Most Dog Beds

Before you look for a dog bed replacement cover that often has to be an exact fit, try a PawSheet. PawSheets’ unique design makes them a great fit on round, square, rectangular or oval pet beds.



Dogs and Rawhide - Safe or Not Safe?

Pet HealthJanet BreyComment
Dogs love rawhide chews! Beware of some dangers. Get the facts before your give one to your furry friend.

Dogs love rawhide chews! Beware of some dangers. Get the facts before your give one to your furry friend.

This is a question I have struggled with for years. They look so tempting at the pet store and I know my dogs love them.

Based on advice from my vet, I stopped giving rawhide to my dogs. I know people who give their dogs rawhide chews and never have a problem. When I read an article on vetSTREET, I thought it would be good to share a few considerations.

Considerations when giving a dog rawhide chews:

  • Only buy if made in USA. That means sourced and manufactured in the US.
  • Can be a carrier of salmonella so wash your hands after touching. Don't let your baby near them!
  • Know your dog's chewing style. Does your dog chew or gulp? My Lab gulps so it could be trouble for him. My Shepard mix chews everything to the max so it is  unlikely to get stuck in his throat or stomach.
  • Can help with teeth and gums but not a substitute for brushing.
  • Make sure you are around to supervise your dog while he is chewing in case of a problem.

Another post The Dangers of Rawhide Dog Chew Toys presents good reasons to avoid commpletely rawhide chews. For one, they are not regulated so who know what chemicals were used to produce them.

For me, forget the rawhide. Too many considerations. I have tried antlers, but they actually cracked on of my dogs teeth! My most successful toys and treats are rope toys, Greenies (which have been reformulated and OK by my vet) and smart toys.

Here is a video of my Lab with his new smart toy... he is finally getting the hang of it. The first couple days he was trying to bite the toy open! 

Comments welcome!


Tips for Brushing Pet Teeth

Janet BreyComment
             Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at

         Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at

After a big dental bill from my vet for my dog’s teeth cleaning and extractions, I now vow to be more diligent to brushing my dogs’ teeth.  Luckily, both my black lab and mixed breed dogs allow me to stick a tooth brush into their mouth to brush their teeth.  So, I have no excuse not to do this on a regular basis.

Over the years I have learned a bit about how often to brush a pet's teeth, how to brush and what tool is best to use for brushing. Based on experiences, this is what I have found to work best:

  • Use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs or cats. 
  • Wash the toothbrush after each use. 
    • If the bristles get stiff, I soften them with warm water before I begin.
  • Announce it is time for teeth brushing. My dogs start licking their mouths. 
    • They know they will get a treat after their teeth are brushed.  
  • Rest the side of the dog's head on your thigh and pull the gums up on the opposite side.
  • Brush the outside of the top and bottom teeth with a circular motion – focus on the top back teeth.
  • Re-paste the toothbrush and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Finish with a quick brush on the front teeth.
  • A thin slice of a fresh carrot is well received as at treat.
    • I feel that the raw carrot also adds to gum health.
               Fresh organic carrot slices make a great dog treat - low in calories, tasty and good for their gums.

               Fresh organic carrot slices make a great dog treat - low in calories, tasty and good for their gums.

I try to brush my pet's teeth daily. When I just cannot get to it my vet suggested a chew specially designed for helping with dental hygiene - Virbac CET® VeggieDent® Chews. My lab gobbles one down in a few minutes whereas my mixed breed chews it slowly and then gags.  So I had to look for something else.

The Best Dental Hygiene Chews

The Veterinary Oral Health Council publishes a list of food and chews that meet or exceed the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s effectiveness standards for retarding the accumulation of dental plaque and/or tartar.  Greenies are on the list which surprised me. 

Years ago, I stopped using Greenies as I read that some dogs had choked on them. However,  I was told (by my vet) that they have been reformulated and are now a good choice.  I also recommend pet owners look at the county of origin as I lost a cat that ate toxic cat food made in China. 

What I have learned:

  • Dogs and cats need help with their teeth. Help them!
  • Good dental hygiene pays off with fewer vet bills and a healthier pets.
  • If your pet has bad breath, do something about it!
  • Your pet needs basic hygiene just like a human  – hair brushing, tooth brushing, nail clipping and a clean place to sleep. Healthy pets are happy pets.

Good luck with your pet's teeth. Please share any tips.