I Am NOT A Water Dog!

Sadie has been incredibly itchy lately, probably from the dry air in the house. We've changed her food and began bathing her with a medicated anti-itch shampoo. This is her typical look when she's in the tub - not a water dog by any stretch of the imagination.

I have fibromyalgia, so bathing puppies in the tub has never been easy for me. Sadie also has severe hip problems in the back, so I've had to find lots of ways to make this process a little more enjoyable for all three of us.

1. Groom the puppies first. If you don't, the hair will mat and never get clean. Or it will all come out in the tub and you'll be fighting with that, too. Grooming will also help remove that dead hair and dander that make them dry and itchy.

2. Gather all your supplies. Chances are they're not going to stay in the tub if you have to go find something. Have shampoo (not people shampoo, but designed specially for dogs) and plenty of towels on hand. You also want to put a non-slip mat or a towel in the tub so your dog won't slip and slide. They'll feel more confident if they have some traction, and you won't have to worry so much about them hurting themselves. If you want, use one of the hose attachments made specifically for washing pets or the hand-held water nozzle on your shower. This will save you from filling up a water pitcher and leaning over your pet for so long.

3. Wet 'er down! Set the water temperature to lukewarm and adjust it before you turn the water on the dog. Imagine if you got sprayed with super cold water! Keep the flow gentle and keep it out of eyes, ears and face.

4. Shampoo. Lather up your dog from back to front, so there's not so much around her face for very long. If you have a long-haired dog, make sure you work the shampoo clear down to the skin. This is my bonding time with the girls - they get massaged, coo-ed over and pampered for a few minutes. As much as they may not like being in the tub, they melt during this part.

5. Rinse. Again, keeping the water warm and low, rinse this time from front to back, top to bottom. Get in all the nooks and crannies so there's no soap residue left. This will decrease their scratching and licking because there will be less skin irritation.

6. Drying off. I use at least two towels on each dog because they have such thick fur. Squeeze all the excess water out of their fur first, then wrap them up and lift them out of the tub. Blot and lightly rub their coat in circles to pull out the remaining water. If you have a long-haired dog, don't rub briskly or you'll have new mats to work out. Generally the girls and I will go to another room for the drying process so they can spread out on a towel and get a really great rub-down.

Quick and easy - and not too hard on the human's body! Then there's a little rinsing of the tub, and you take the towels to the washing machine. A couple of notes - when it's warm outside, you can do all of these steps with the hose in the yard. Never bathe a dog outside in the cold. It's just not healthy for them. And while your dog is wet, keep her away from vents and drafts so she won't get sick. Love on her and get her all warmed up before you let her go outside. Then you'll have a clean, happy dog that's ready for the rest of the day.

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