My fabulous foster dog Redmond has been enjoying a brief stay at the Humane Society of New York‘s excellent clinic, where he’s undergoing the final stage of his treatment for heartworm disease, and recovering nicely.
Now, it so happens that ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” regularly spotlights adoptable dogs rescued by the Humane Society of New York. And Redmond’s good looks – he’s part Irish Setter, so he sports an exceptionally glossy, photogenic red coat – landed him an appearance on the show, together with another one of the Society’s eligible dogs, a black Lab mix named Flopps who’s as sweet as he is handsome.
Flopps and Redmond were the canine talent in this morning’s very enlightening segment demonstrating how to bathe a dog. Dr. Marty Becker,the best-selling author of “Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul” and esteemed veterinary correspondent for”Good Morning America,” always offers invaluable tips on canine care, whether he’s doing it on TV and radio or in print. And this morning was no exception.
The set featured two bathtubs. The bottom of each tub was lined with a towel, to prevent the dogs’ paws from slipping and sliding while they underwent their bow-wow beauty treatments.
The GMA stars gamely rolled up their sleeves for this fun segment. George Stephanopoulos (wearing a yellow rain slicker) and Juju Chang (protecting her outfit with an apron) tended to Flopps, while Redmond had the undivided attention of Robin Roberts and Sam Champion, who also wisely wore aprons.
Accenting the champ in his surname, the renowned meteorologist revealed a gentle, yet masterful, take-charge tubside manner, practically climbing in the tub to put Redmond at ease. Too bad Champion travels too much to have a pet – he’d make a great dog owner!
Meanwhile, Dr. Becker serenely supervised operation suds, remarking that dogs need to be bathed at least once a month, and ideally once weekly, and citing this intriguing statistic (which explains the imperative to bathe dogs):”Seventy percent of people sleep with their dogs in bed.”
But this was no mere style segment; there was plenty of serious substance on the GMA set this morning.As Dr. Becker aptly explained, grooming is more than just a beauty treatment for dogs; it actually helps to keep them healthy. It’s especially important, the Doc explained, to “wash off the allergens, the pollen, and the spores,”as doing so can help reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of environmental allergies in dogs.
Bathing dogs at home rather than sending them to a professional groomer certainly saves money, but if you’re not careful there could be hidden costs. If your dog sheds a great deal during bathing , the excess hair can clog your bathtub drain. Dr. Becker offered this genius preventive tip: “Put steel wool in your drain to save you a trip from the plumber later on.”
Before you wet down your dog, there’s something else you need to plug: his ears. Gently stuff Spot’s ears with cotton, so he doesn’t get the equivalent of swimmer’s ear during his bath.
As for what to lather Spot with, Dr. Becker pointed out that there are “millions of shampoos for special coat types,” so the choice is up to you. Just don’t use human shampoo, he cautioned, as “the pH is wrong.” (My dogs’ favorite shampoo happens to be TheraNeem Pet Shampoo by Organix South, as it contains no soap whatsoever to irritate their super-sensitive skin.) Whatever brand or type of shampoo you choose, be sure to “rinse your dog until the water runs clear,” Dr.Becker advised.
The good vet then demonstrated this neat towel technique: Fold a terrycloth bath towel in half, then drape it over your wet dog’s back like a horse blanket. “That prevents them from shaking water all over you,” Dr. Becker said.
Here’s another surefire way to prevent the full-body, after-bath shimmy that drenches you and your surroundings: Gently hold your dog’s muzzle shut. “That completely stops them,” Dr. Becker said, demonstrating on Redmond. “It’s like turning off a light switch.”
And of course you’ll want to reward Spot for his cooperation in submitting to the in-home spa treatment. So handle your dog like a pro by taking a page from Dr. Becker’s book: Stuff your pocket full of treats!
Shih Tzu in bath by Shutterstock