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Dirty Dogs

The following post was originally published by Karen on KP’s Dog Blog, September 27, 2007.

I was at a large dog park recently on a hot day, and there was just one puddle in the entire park (from a leaky pipe).

Naturally, all the dogs kept gravitating toward the mud as inexorably as a moth to a flame, and this set the dog guardians to screaming, “Max, get away from that!” “Don’t even think about it, Sasha!” I was standing nearby and tried to advocate in behalf of the hot dogs: “But it’s so hot out! You can just let the mud dry and then brush it out of her coat.”

I don’t understand why muddy dogs cause such freak-outs. If you’ve got a blanket or a tarp over your back seat, your dog will be dry by the time you get home and will probably have licked most of the dirt off too. But what’s left can easily be brushed or combed out.

And for those unfortunate inevitable incidents when Fido merrily rolls in something really fetid, you can just use enzyme wipes (Nature’s Miracle makes nice ones). Try that first before going to all the trouble of lathering up your little Lucifer.

People are always so shocked to find out that I almost never bathe my dogs. Yet, they smell fine. They really do. The truth is that chronic bad doggie odor usually comes from within (from a diet that is not agreeing with the dog), so frequent baths are just masking a serious health issue that requires a dietary change, not shampoo.

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  • Rachel says:

    I almost never bathe my two mini dachshunds. Only when they get into a really smelly mess out at my parents’ farm do they get a bath. Regular brushing is the best to keep their coats in good condition. They smell fine otherwise.

  • Kristina says:

    I have to bathe my dogs…although I totally agree with the diet thing. If the dogs are eating clean and healthy, they will be more clean all around.

    I have to clean my dogs…a poodle and a Cockapoo because if I don’t, they can get matted and very uncomfortable. Plus, my two girls like to get into things and get dirty…so I have just accepted monthly groomings.

  • Margarita says:

    I like to give any dog that I have, a bath. I see they enjoy all the attention and care and like somebody said, the bonding. Whether they realy stink or not I like to give them a nice warm bath that they really enjoy.

  • Alyson says:

    The dog whisperer is usually on National Geographic on Fridays at 8:00 p.m.

  • Amanda says:

    If you’re going to take your dog outside and are just abhorring the idea of letting it drink “dirty water”, you should keep at least one bottle of clean, cold water with you and a small, lightweight dish for your buddy to drink out of.

    Of course, if you’re going on a long walk with your dog, you should do this anyway, whether the weather is hot or cold.

  • Annie says:

    Why do some dog owners have a dog and yet expect the dogs to always stay clean instead of doing what dogs naturally do?

  • Allyson Magrath says:

    Your dog Kiana is a Wheaton Terrier and has long, soft hair, and doesn’t shed. Down side to that is that it gets matted VERY easily, and she is a dirt magnet!! We usually bathe her about once a month, to help get some of the tangles out and clean all the grunge out of her coat, but especially in winter when she plays in the dirty slush (she LOVES snow more than ANY dog I have ever met)we end up having to at least rinse her off more often.
    She also has the bad habit of knocking over the bathroom garbage cans if the door is ever left open by accident and taking out any “feminine products” and rolling in them. As you can imagine, that requires a good bath.

    Dogs just want to have fun and act like…DOGS! I don;t understand people who expect their dogs to stay perfectly clean.

  • Scott Cox says:

    My wife & I have a German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) who, and I would think it’s due to the undercoat, starts smelling real musty and just generally yucky if we don’t bathe her once a month. When she’s at her worst, if you pet her for a short time your hand will be covered in an oily layer of dirt…and she sheds constantly!
    Now regarding diet, we feed them what we’ve researched to be pretty darn good dog food – Wellness Brand dry kibble mixed with Embark Dehydrated Raw food which is grain-free…no by-products, no fillers, no perservatives or additives. And of course being vegan myself, everything they eat is cruelty-free!
    And occasionally we supplement with rice and a good quality cooked chicken and some essential oils (Dreamcoat), but don’t understand why our other 2 dogs smell fine but not the 1, and they eat what I thought was a good diet.
    Could it be due to some of her medical conditions? She underwent a radical mastectomy from being a breeder’s bitch and never being spayed, as well as a previous heartworm condition that she’s since been treated successfully for. However she does have buckshot pellets in her (lead) from when the breeder shot her and tossed her out for dead when she couldn’t produce anymore litters.
    And the dog shampoo we use is also cruelty-free and 100% biodegradable, called Earthbath from San Francisco, so needless to say I’m confused!

    >>>Response From KP

    Hi Scott!
    Thanks for your question–you sound like a wonderful, conscientious dog parent!
    I would suggest several things. How about some digestive enzymes to make sure that she is getting all the nutrients out of her food? Prozyme is a good one that you should be able to get at your local pet supply store.
    I would also give her an acidophilus (probiotic) capsule twice a day to build up her intestinal flora, especially if she’s ever had any antibiotics, which I’m sure she has, given all her health problems.
    And finally, I would slip her some luscious coconut oil twice a day (about 1 tablespoon if she’s a pretty big girl) while cutting back a little on calories elsewhere in the diet since it’s pretty calorie-dense. Coconut oil is great for the coat, but did you know that it also kills yeast and viruses? Often smelly dogs have a yeast overgrowth, and the caprylic acid in coconut oil can help clear it up.
    I saw this firsthand in my little foster Chihuahua Theresa. She came to me with completely black skin inside her ears (which, to me, suggested inflammation possibly caused by a yeast overgrowth), and now, after five months on coconut oil and the other supplements recommended above, her ears are nice and pink again!

  • Bryan says:

    Then is it wrong bathing dogs? cosz i bathe my GSD once a week. which is told by my groomer. am i doing harm to her?

  • JJ says:

    Hm, our dog really stinks…

  • Jennifer Pruitt says:

    Thanks Isabel. I’m going to try to find the dog whisperer. I’ve heard of him but I usually watch animal planet and I think he’s on another channel. If you know what channel he’s on please let me know. I’m almost positive that a man w/ a hat beat her w/ a stick. She’s deathly afraid of men in hats and brooms or sticks. If I get the broom or pick up a stick in the yard or anything that even resembles a stick, she takes off running and hides and won’t come out for long periods of time. I did have an animal behaviourist and he helped alot but it’s hard to get a dog to stop being scared. I don’t even want to think about all she went through. She was so skinny when I got her. It was really sad.

    Hi Jennifer,
    The Dog Whisperer is on the National Geographic Channel, but you can also rent DVDs of the earlier seasons.

  • Isabel says:

    and I thought my dog was scared. We adopted our dog also almost 2 years ago. She is afraid people in general, for some reason more of men than women, but she has also come a long way. She is just scared to the point where she will move away from the person, not to the point where she’ll release her anal glands. In your case that is true fear.
    I am definitely against removing the anal glands. Her problem is not physical, it is psychological. You said she’s already come a long way in those two years. You have to be patient, she has to learn to get over her fear. I know, easier said than done – I know that from my own dog.
    Do you watch the Dog Whisperer? Maybe you should write him. I really like him and I think he could help you.
    Otherwise I can’t give you much more advice.

  • Jennifer Pruitt says:

    RE: Dirty dogs.
    I have a dog that I rescued 2 years ago and she was horribly abused. She has come a long way in the last 2 years but she’s still terrified of strange men, so if someone she doesn’t know comes over she will get really scared, like the electrician or the guy from the phone company or any other male she isn’t familiar with. So when she gets scared of a stranger (which is going to happen) she emits this horrible smell. The vet and dog groomer told me it’s from her anal glands and the vet gave me some perineal cleanser to spray on her butt and wipe off, but usually I have to put her in the bath tub and wash her bottom. It is the most repulsive smell ever and it will permeate a house in no time. I can’t even describe it. But I would rather smell a wet dog covered in poop than this smell. It’s truly awful. The groomer cleans her anal glands but apparently she will continue to make more of it. The vet said they can be removed but it could make her incontinent and I don’t want that either. Do you have any suggestions for me? I wish a little dirt was my only problem, lol. But she’s a sweet, loving, gentle dog and it’s not her fault that someone was so awful to her and there’s no way I will get rid of her. I’ve gone through too much w/ her to give up now. If I could just get some help w/ the anal glands I would be happy.

    Hi Jennifer!
    Have you tried asking the men to give your dog treats? This was what I did to help Sunny and Dexter overcome their fears of both men and children. Every time we encountered one or the other, I would shove treats into their hands and say, “Here, would you like to give my dog a treat?” No one has ever refused, and it has really helped a lot.

  • Kaitlyn McKee says:

    If anyone needs help finding holistic food for your your dog let me know.

  • shirley moore says:

    I’m so pleased to have been told by PETA about this blog. I work with disturbed dogs and hope to learn more. About dirty dogs: I have three, we go out for walks three times a day whether it’s raining or not. I keep a large towel next to the front door so that if they are wet, as soon as we get home I dry them – they love it! If they are very muddy I put them in the bath tub and shower them off with the hand shower – no shampoo. then dry them.
    If they have rolled in shit or putrified carcasses(as they sometimes do because in the wild it hides their odour from prey, allowing them to get close without being detected), I use a dog shampoo on the ‘bad’ bits, but only on those occasions which are rare. None of mine smell, because I feed them only well boiled rice, very lean meat or fish and the few dairy products I give them are all strickly low fat. It is animal fat that overworks their liver and produces the odour.
    In the wild the alpha dog and bitch eat first and choose the best bits, not the fatty parts. However some breeds are more prone to smelling than others, for example, manchester terriers, whippets and greyhounds don’t smell at all, some breeds (usually those with double coats, under and over-coats)have a natural odour that should only be very slight and not washed away.
    thanks for being here !!

  • Liat Slann says:

    Another great way to keep your dogs clean is to vacuum them- I know it sounds crazy, and it isn’t possible to do with dogs that are afraid of the noise, but I have 3 dogs and 2 of the 3 are happy to submit to a daily vacuuming of their bodies- the actually enjoy it judging from their reactions. My 3rd and youngest dog is always curious regarding the proceedings, and comes near enough to watch, but is skittish and unhappy for me to try the process on him- so I don’t- because 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, and it really helps keep the house clean and the dogs petable! 🙂

  • Isabel says:

    Well, what can I say: I bathe our dog.
    She sleeps in bed with us, so I bathe her about once a month. But I would not want to miss her bathing time for it is our bonding time. She knows the command “In the bath!”, then she goes and climbs into our bath tub. She likes the extra attention and is all happy afterwards.
    Nevertheless I am not the type of person that freaks out when her dog gets all muddy or wet. As an experienced dog park visitor, I usually have a towel in my car that I lay over the seat when she is too dirty. I don’t bother hosing her off at the park, because it is like Karen said: It is much easier to just brush out the dirt when she is dry. When the month is up she gets another bath, but between that time she can do whatever she wants – and trust me, she does.

  • Mazie says:

    what makes a dog scarch with back paws his stomach and that is all

  • Jenny Desmond says:

    AMEN!! No tarp, no groomer, no tears = happy dog!

  • Jessica says:

    I’m guessing that a great many of them don’t have tarps in the back of their car. I can’t help but shake my head at the many, many people who take their dogs to parks and expect them not to act like animals. In fact, it sometimes seems as though they are expected to behave better than children are asked to.

    We hardly bathe our dog, either. We only do it because he is a Chessie, but has nowhere to swim, so the oily build-up in his fur can get nasty after a while.

    I’ve only ever met one animal that actually stank, and that was indeed a kitten with a dietary problem. All other times that someone has claimed a pet “stinky,” it really just smelled like animal. We humans have a smell, too, no matter how much we shower, we’re just more used to it.

    I still can’t figure out why on earth people bathe their cats…

  • Karen says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. People overbathe their dogs. I lived for 7 years just a few blocks from Lake Michigan in Chicago, and my lab mix swam daily when there was no ice. I taught him to roll in the grass on command to get some of the sand off, and then I taught myself to vacuum more. Despite water of questionable cleanliness and hundreds of swims, in all those years I can count his baths on one hand. Even wet, he doesn’t smell, and his dry coat shines to a degree that strangers comment on it. Soap is no substitute for good health and a good brushing.