With the worrying rise in cases of Alabama Rot, (CRBV), we thought it was timely to write about keeping dogs clean. Although the exact cause of this worrying disease is not known, it is thought to be contracted in muddy areas, so dog cleanliness after walks is clearly very important. Bathing dogs can be very stressful for owners and dogs alike, but this guide gives some helpful insights into making it a positive and healthy experience for ALL involved.
Alabama Rot: what we know
After muddy walks it is very important to wash the feet, legs and coat very thoroughly, as this is how it is thought that CRBV is spread. There have been 29 cases of CRBV in the UK this year already, compared to only 40 in total in 2017 and 19 in 2016. You can see the UK cases mapped here. CRBV is a disease caused by damage to the blood vessels of the skin and kidneys. The blood vessels become blocked and then the tissue gets damaged, leading to ulcers of the skin and kidney failure. The first sign of the disease is open wounds or lesions on the legs, chest and body.
The dog will appear tired and not want to eat, and may even be sick. At the first signs, or if any doubt, take your dog to the vet straight away. The sooner you react the better.
Cleaning after walks
If you have a muddy and water loving mutt, you will undoubtedly be hosing them down often, to get the worst off. Alison, Ruff and Tumble MD, swears by the hot water tap she has outside because the dogs will tolerate being cleaned off thoroughly and the warmer water is kinder on cold days! The benefit to you and your dog of a good wash outside first cannot be underestimated, so investing in a hot water tap could be a positive step towards healthy cleanliness.
How often to bath?
Hosing down is one thing, but bathing is another, and for some owners and dogs, nothing short of a nightmare! Regular bathing is normally about once a month for most dogs, but the more oily haired breeds may need to be bathed more often and short haired breeds like Beagles less often. Retrievers, who have water-repellent coats, should be bathed less frequently to preserve their oil content, and some double coated dogs benefit from regular grooming as much as regular bathing, like Malamutes for example. If you regularly walk your dog in the country, and they love mud and water, you may wish to bathe your dog weekly, particularly if they are the longer haired variety! There's nothing like a clean smelling newly bathed dog on the sofa snuggled up to you!
Before the bath - what to do and the kit you need!
If you have a new dog, it's good to get them familiar with the bath and put them in it without water in first. Give them a few treats once in, and encourage them to see it as a positive place to be.
Always buy a shampoo specifically for dogs - human shampoo, even the mild baby ones, are too strong for dogs and will irritate the skin. Alison uses Rhubarking Mad shampoo and Muddy Marvellous conditioner because they smell wonderful! Use a non-slip mat for the bottom of the bath and put a little wire wool over the plug hole to prevent it being blocked by lots of hair. Prepare your dog by giving them a good groom first to minimize this, and, if they will tolerate it, pop cotton wool in their ears, as water in the ears is not pleasant or advisable. If your dog is new to bathing, or dislikes it, fill the bath whilst they are not in the room, and arrange everything to hand so that you can keep close to them for reassurance. We like to put the dogs' drying coat and drying mitts on the radiator and put our aprons on before we start, so that the doggies stay warm and we stay dry! Have a few treats in the pocket of your apron to reward you dog after its bath!
Bathing - top tips!
The water temperature should be what you would have for a baby, comfortably warm but not hot. It needn't be too deep, just enough to be able to splash up and use the shampoo easily. Start from the neck and work down, and once shampooed thoroughly, let the dirty water out. When washing the head,be careful to gently hold the nose down. It's very important to avoid getting water up the dog's nose. Alison uses Tropiclean's Spa Tearless Cleanser on the face and head only because it is very gentle on the eyes and smells gorgeous; it's expensive but lasts forever as you only need a tiny amount. Rinse off thoroughly because any shampoo left in the fur will irritate the skin and cause scratching and itching. Once thoroughly rinsed, give the dog a quick rub down to get rid of the excess moisture, and gently lift out of the bath; then slip on their drying coat. Put up the hoody and fasten the Velcro under the chin and around the belly, then fold the hoody back to make a nice thick
double layered collar. Use the drying mitts for the head, legs and tail, and then give them a treat! Many dogs don't like hairdryers, and of course you don't need them with Ruff and Tumble drying coats. The double layered towelling wicks away the wet and also warms them, as even getting out of a bath in summer can be a chilly experience.
Read more about CRBV here