Canine Health Information
Common Sense Grooming - Part 2
“Show me your dog,
and I will tell you what sort of man you are.”
…von Stephanitz, 1932
(Part 2 of 3)
Click here if you missed Part One.
On a warm day, soak the dog with a water hose, then work in shampoo
or bar soap until you get a good lather, being sure to get the
belly, head and neck. Hold the head almost all the while, or the dog
will struggle and shake. After he is soaped from ears to tail tip,
let him run around for about five minutes while the dirt is
emulsified and any ectoparasites are drowned (fleas and ticks will
survive under plain water, but cannot breathe in soapy water). By
the way, I don’t believe the flea shampoos are any more effective
than just letting the dog’s coat stay soapy for several minutes.
Then make sure you rinse away every last residue of soap or you will
encourage itching and allow dried soap flakes to show later. Soap
remaining in the coat will often look like dandruff when it dries,
and may even promote moisture retention and hot spots, as will
clumps of dead hair that remain wet. The dog can “drip-dry” if the
weather permits and the yard is grassy, otherwise he’ll want to roll
on the ground and may get muddy.
You may want to towel him off thoroughly, using the damp towel over
your finger to “ream” out his ears. If you live in the north and
must wash him in the winter, you might need to do this in your
shower and either way, there are now big warm-air blowers that will
literally blow the water from his coat and hasten the drying
Ears - Unless your dog has mites or gets seeds or
dirt into his outer ear, the natural production and outward flow of
wax will keep the ear lined with a light protective layer, and all
you need do is put some tissue paper on your little finger and ream
out his ears during your weekly “combing and quality time” sessions.
Here are easy, step-by-step instructions, unless
you own a grooming cat. For some reason, cats love to clean
If you notice more than the normal amount of wax, get out the ear
cleaning kit. This includes rubbing alcohol, cotton, paper towel,
and Q-tips™ or equivalent. If you find an infection and/or
infestation, use a combination antibiotic/fungicide and miticide.
Using the cotton swab-on-a-stick, twirl it in one direction only, on
the way into the ear canal as well as on the way out. If you pull
off the dirty cotton and twist fresh cotton onto the stick, do so
with that same directional motion, or it may come off in the ear.
the dog lying on his side, use the heel of your hand to keep his
head down while pulling up on the pinna with the thumb and first two
fingers. In this manner, you can partly straighten out the sharp
bend of the canal so you can get the swab all the way in. Despite
warnings in the popular dog press and elsewhere about touching the
eardrum, I have done this for well over thirty years with no
problem. With a gentle touch, you can feel the swab bottom-out, and
with a firm hand and soft voice you can keep the dog still while you
clean the entire outer ear canal.
Fleas, Thyroid & Immune System - Some dogs lack natural and
sufficient hormonal activity to prevent flea-bite allergy, a sign
that the thyroid and other glands are not working optimally. There
are things you can do to alleviate most of the discomfort and then
run tests. The skin, especially in certain areas such as belly,
underarms, and pelvis/croup regions, may be hormone-affected but it
is the ear that usually is the most obvious place of irritation and
symptoms. If the ear canal has an abnormal amount of wax, and if the
accumulation is dark and smells unpleasant, it needs cleaning, but
you should also attack the immediate cause.
The underlying cause may be that the immune system has been damaged
from too-frequent and unnecessary 5-in-1-type vaccines. There’s
always a chance that the dog may have ear mites, but this is
infrequent enough that until you get some miticide or schedule a
possible vet visit if you can’t handle it yourself, you’d be wise to
treat the symptoms.
Some people claim success with hydrogen peroxide, but I have found
over the years that cleaning with a 50/50 dilution of cheap white
vinegar does as good a job as anything, and at minimal cost. Wet a
thin cloth or a strong paper towel with the solution, and with your
little finger ream out the ear as much as you can. Then, while it is
still wet, use the Q-Tip I mentioned, and clean out all the
channels, then all the way to the ear drum. If you waited too long,
and the ear is sore, you will have to persuade the dog that the pain
is for his own good, and it will be better in a day or two as the
open sores heal. Vinegar has a low (acidic) pH, and that’s what you
need because the opportunistic fungus (which is always in the air)
does not do well in acidic environments. Do it every day until you
can try every other day with success in controlling it. Meanwhile,
try to mitigate some of the damage to the immune system by giving
If you do find that the dog actually has a rare case of mites, put
some of the medicine on the tip of the tail as well, as experienced
breeders have long said that the same mites are usually found there,
too. In fact, that may be one of the only excuses for frequent
bathing until the critters have been killed or banished.
Geriatric dogs that have been damaged by over-vaccination frequently
have the same foul, rancid smell emanating from the skin that you
had earlier noticed only in the ears. Again, it is probably too late
to cure or to erase the damage, but you might be able to control the
smell by frequent bathing, a weak vinegar solution rinse, and
immune-system dietary boosters.
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COMMON-SENSE GROOMING - Part Two
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