It is springtime, and with the season’s change, our pets have a lot of new things in their lives to deal with. And by association, so do we.
Mud. Yup, this is the time of year when our pets, especially our big floofy dogs, find every little spot of mud. Much like a preschooler, his new rubber boots, and every puddle along the way, dogs seem to seek out mud and revel in ignoring the loud “No, don’t” that we continually hurl in their direction.
Whether it is in the backyard, on the walk or in the leashless park, mud seems to be everywhere this time of year. And our pets are conveniently covered in mud gathering fur. Most of the time, it is just the feet, but if they slip and fall, or decide to slide though on their belly, it becomes a real mess.
Some people recommend dish soap to use to bath a dog, they claim it strips the grease off them. That it does, and more, and not in a good way. When buying a shampoo, there are a number of options. There are ones that are specifically for “dirty dogs”, designed to float the physical dirt off the hair. There are gentle shampoos for using more often, many with a gentle, pleasant scent. Then there are the 2 in 1’s, like our shampoo/conditioner mixes, for single coated dogs who don’t get too dirty too often.
With a proper shampoo, you can bathe often without damaging the coat. Watch for tangles and mats starting, they are easy to remove if you catch them early, but impossible if you leave too long. If you can run a comb through the dog’s hair right to the skin, you are doing a great job. The comb is an important part of grooming, if you can get a comb through the hair, you can get the brush through it properly.
The feet are more of a daily issue. There are a number of “paw washer” products out there. Most are basically a cup of water you dunk the dog’s foot in. Some have a rubber top with a hole in it to stop most of the water from coming out around the paw. Some also have bristles (plastic or silicone) to loosen the dirt from the paw once it is wetted. Stick one paw at a time in the washer, swish around and voila, almost clean. A heck of a lot better than when you started, now it is easy for a towel to remove the last of the mud and the water. And yes, there are cool microfibre mats and gloves that are built to do just this job.
Another option is boots. The “Pawz” brand of rubber boots are very much like a very thick balloon, but shaped to fit a dog’s paw. These slip on fairly easy once you get the hang of it, and if you have a compliant dog. If they are too difficult to put on solo, have a friend help. There also is a tool, the Paws Jawz, that make the job a little easier. By putting on a rubber boot, it makes clean up a lot easier, just rinse off the boot. If they get into deeper mud, oh well. You can also use any winter bootie, although they tend to be harder to clean and might not be water tight.
Keeping paws and pads clean this time of year is important, dirty paws can grow yeast, bacteria or worse. And if the mud/salt dries on the feet, they can become irritated and can cause the pet to incessantly lick the paws, which can lead to other health issues. Sometimes a foot bath with Epsom salts can calm irritations that occur this time of year.
Lastly, a trip to the groomer, either for a full groom (good luck getting an appointment quickly this time of year) or for a “pawdicure” can make life easier. A “pawdicure” should include a nail trim and removing the fur from the feet, with scissors and/or clipper. This can make cleaning the paws much quicker and easier, and the dog will like it too, because their nails probably got too long over the winter, with no pavement to wear them down.
A little prevention, the proper tools, some planning and spring becomes a lot more pleasant with your pet.