Paws for Wellness A happy and healthy pet starts with a plan!

What’s That Smell? Summer Hygiene Tips for Your Dog

Dog getting a bathWith summer comes long days spent outside, enjoying the nice weather and all the activities it has to offer. Of course, with that comes dirty dogs! Dogs often have different ideas about what counts as “dirty”, so you may need to persuade your dog that if he wants to snuggle up in bed with you that night, getting rid of that layer of grime and “doggie smell” is a must. If your pup can frequently be found crashing through the underbrush, leaping into the lake or rolling around in a questionable pile at the park, here are a few tips on how to cultivate a good hygiene routine for your dog that will make both of you much happier this summer.

Start them early!
The key to getting your dog used to bathing and grooming practices is to start when they are puppies, much like training or socialization. If you start when they are young, they learn that baths, brushing their coats, teeth, and trimming their nails are all routine happenings that they will grow to accept, even if they don’t particularly like them.

Get them used to being handled by you
Acclimate your dog to being handled by you, especially with the parts of their bodies most dogs shy away from being touched, such as paws and mouths. A few times throughout the course of the day, hold your dog and gently, but firmly, rub your hands along their back and down their legs. Then rub their tummy, paws, ears and feet. If they resist or cries out, stop but don’t let them go. Speak to them calmly until they stop protesting, then continue with the gentle massage.

Brush regularly
Every dog benefits from a regular brushing. It will remove loose hair and dead skin cells, as well as any dirt and debris that may build up, while distributing their natural skin oils along the hair shafts. How often you need to brush your dog will depend on their breed and coat type; short hair coats require less frequent brushing while longer or curly coats can benefit from a daily brushing, as will dogs that shed a lot. Regularly brushing your dog will get them used to the action, as well as help to maintain cleanliness by removing loose debris and counteracting build-up. Always brush out long or curly coats before bathing.

Use warm water and special doggie shampoos
No one likes a cold shower, especially not dogs! Be sure to use warm water when bathing your dog- bathing should be a relaxing experience for them. As a pup, newborns like being licked by their mothers to be cleaned, so the water you use should be as warm as body temperature, much like a mother’s saliva and tongue would be when grooming her puppies. Dogs typically don’t like showers, so be gentle with your use of water when bathing your dog; don’t splash, and avoid getting water in their eyes and ears. Use a washcloth to gently wash their faces, instead of pouring water over their heads. Always use a shampoo formulated for dogs, as their skin and hair needs are different than humans. There are many choices available at your local pet store or vet’s office. Ask your vet or groomer if you are unsure what types might work best for your pup’s specific needs.

Take it slowly
Hair dryers and clippers can be scary things! Introduce your pup slowly to these sometimes terrifying appliances; set them out and let them thoroughly investigate them. Then turn them on low, and again, let your pup check them out. When they seem to be more comfortable around them, then proceed to dry their hair or clip their hair or nails. If you and your pup are still not comfortable grooming on your own, take your dog to a professional groomer who will make the process easier and more relaxing for everyone.

Practice, practice, practice
Along with starting them early, being consistent with grooming practices will help you to improve your grooming skills, as well as allow your pup to become increasingly accepting of these practices. Try to create a bathing schedule for your dog, depending on their breed and requirements. If you are unsure how often you should bathe your dog, ask your vet if you aren’t going on smell alone!

You can also create a predictable cause-and-effect bathing schedule for your dog, so they understand that after certain events, a bath is likely to follow; such as a weekend at the cottage swimming in the lake means a good brushing and bath upon returning home. Creating a predictable grooming routine for your pup will help to increase their acceptance of it, no matter how grudgingly. Incorporating these easy tips into your pet’s grooming and hygiene routine will help to ensure you both have a happy and healthy summer!


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    Dr. Laura Neuhaus (Raiff)


    Dr. Laura Neuhaus is a graduate of the University of Missouri - College of Veterinary Medicine. Following graduation, she completed an emergency and specialty medicine internship at VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center in San Diego. She enjoys ophthalmology and has a special interest in avian medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, and spending time outdoors. She is the proud parent of a cat and 2 parrotlets.
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    Dr. Mitchell Meyerhoeffer


    A Virginia native, Dr. Mitchell Meyerhoeffer (Dr. M is fine!) started his career in the veterinary field in high school at Chesterfield Technical Center's veterinary science program. He completed his undergraduate degree in Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University while working as a veterinary assistant in a specialty and emergency hospital. Dr. M then completed his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine training at Virginia Tech, enjoying the hiking and outdoor scenery in Blacksburg when he could ...
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    Veterinary Technician

    Beth joined the GAH staff in April 2010. Originally from Maryland, she now lives in the Gloucester area. She has been working as a Licensed Veterinary Technician since graduating from Blue Ridge Community College in 1989. Away from work, she enjoys reading and working her dogs in obedience and agility classes. She has two dogs, three cats, four ferrets and three reptiles.
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    I'm Aidan, and I'm not your typical groomer. I'm a passionate animal lover with a heart full of love for our furry friends. Every day, I get the incredible opportunity to work my magic as a groomer at the renowned Grafton Animal Hospital. I can't express just how much I adore what I do. It's not just a job; it's a calling. I find immense joy in transforming your beloved pets into the best versions of themselves. Whether it's a shaggy dog that needs a fresh haircut, a cat in need of a spa day, or ...
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    Ricky came to Grafton Animal Hospital in April of 2011. He was a little shy at first, but once he became more comfortable with us, he became one of the team. Ricky is a Congo African Grey Parrot. We think he is around 10 years old, but no one is sure. He will sometimes put on a show of whistling, talking, singing and dancing, and imitating sounds like telephones and coughing. Visit our Facebook page for an opportunity to see Ricky in action.
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    Lucy joined the Grafton Animal Hospital reception team as the new Noisemaker bird in September 2016. After losing our long-time mascot, Croaker, earlier that year, we learned of a young Quaker parrot available for adoption at the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter and decided she might be a good fit for the clinic. Lucy quickly made herself at home and before long, she was showing the staff who was really in charge. She is generally pretty friendly, so you will often see the staff holding her. ...
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    Daisy & Duke

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    Daisy and Duke joined the GAH team in June of 2009. They were stray kittens that needed a home, and Squeaks was in need of a brother or sister. After some convincing, we were able to keep both. If you haven’t seen our kittens roaming the clinic, it’s because they are still learning their way around. For now, they are great morale boosters that keep us entertained during our staff meetings.
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