I feel like all I’m doing lately is washing mah dawgs. This isn’t something I like doing more than once every few months; this house’s Westie skin is itchy skin, and I’ll do anything to keep it at bay, but lately with all the rain, snow, mud and other lovely things the girls keep embedding into their hair, these extra baths have been a necessity.
When we first bought Peach (and it was time for her first hair cut) I took her to a dog groomer. I was so excited to get my little Westie back finally looking like a Westie for the first time, but alas… she came out looking like a Maltese with some weird pouf on her tail and I was mortified. Didn’t help that the groomer came out calling my first-time-ever-being-groomed puppy a “little ratbag”. Needless to say, we haven’t been back to a groomer since. I kept Peach’s hair super long for her trek to Canada a month later (so she’d be warm in the plane), but then once we got to our new home there was quite a mess to deal with. I went out, bought grooming scissors, a men’s beard trimmer, and stole one of my combs from my dresser and sat down with YouTube.
Thanks to those first few videos I found, I figured out the essentials to grooming my little Westie, but no one really runs you through the bathing element. Granted, it seems pretty straight forward, but there’s something I didn’t find out for a solid year. Drying your Westie with a hair dryer makes their itchy, grey-ish skin even itchier and greyer.
I’d noticed in my first few groomings with Peach that her skin was quite grey to nearly black in places, and had the gut instinct that heat from water and heat from the dryer wouldn’t be a good thing to add to the mix. I’m so glad for that gut instinct! I kept the water skin temperature and dried her from a foot to two feet away or used the cool setting on the hair dryer. (With the body-temperature water, it does mean you need to boogie on the washing cause your dog will start getting the chills).
Getting to my “wrap” point! It was over a year later that I came across a post about someone washing their Golden Retrievers. (Don’t ask me why or how I came across the post. I’m not even sure haha!). The first thing they said was how much a hair dryer damages a dog’s skin. Essentially, when you use a hair dryer, you’re drying the outer layer of hair. And when you think they’re dry and ready to go, you’re actually leaving the inner coat (the lovely downy-soft stuff right next to your pup’s skin (if you own a breed with those two layers))… you’re leaving it wet. Leaving that fur damp for a prolonged amount of time irritates the skin, can grab onto bacteria and dirt much easier… you get my drift. So, if your dog is already having issues with itchiness or scabbing, you’ll only make things worse by creating this warm, wet environment right on top of it all!
The solution isn’t perfect. There isn’t really a way to 100% dry that inner layer of hair perfectly (especially if you’re cutting the hair dryer out of the mix). Leaving as much time as possible between baths is definitely a great step, finding a really good shampoo and conditioner for your pup is another good one, BUT, this one trick is a fantastic way to help that inner hair dry. The WRAP.
Warning: This is an incredibly cute moment for you fur-parents, so beware of how much time you have up your sleeve after bathing your pup… cause you’ll want to be sitting there for hours. 🙂
The wrap is basically this: after washing your pup, give him/her a good squeeze in the tub to get as much access water off; all the way down their legs. Then grab your clean, very dry towel (It needs to be really dry to do this properly. Peach and Lucy now have to have separate towels after a bath so this can work properly). Drape the towel over them whilst they’re in the tub so the shorter width is from their head to their bum, leaving the longer sides ready to wrap around them when you pick them up (if they’re pick-up-able). Grab your pooch with the towel, and as you lift them from the tub use your dominant arm that’s holding them the most (usually my right arm) to wrap the one side of the towel under their belly and legs. Then once you’ve done that, continue holding your dog with your right arm and wrap your left arm (and the remaining side of the towel) under the dog as well and take a seat. Get the bum and back legs in under the towel, and flip whats left at the top over their head and hold them nice and tight. (As quickly as Peach wants to get out of this once we’re done, when she first gets snuggled up tight in the towel, she’s instantly asleep and I’m pretty sure she’d be purring if she could. 😀
What does this weird wrapping do, you ask? Just by sitting there for 10-15 minutes, the heat from your pup’s skin warms that inner layer of hair and starts drying it from the inside, out! Having the towel around them allows the moisture to get sucked away as the dog continues to heat up their own body. Of course, you’re also drying the outer coat, but not having to vigorously rub or pat them down, which can also be a bit too abrasive for their sweet skin. Once I’ve let them go, I’ll use a drier corner of the towel to pat down their face so they don’t use our rug for the job. Since wrapping the girls post-bathtime, I’ve noticed a significant change in Peach’s dandruff (there’s little to none now), and I LOVE this lovely warm snuggly time with my little pickles. So, don’t be afraid of the first few times you try to get that towel around your dog, just get wrapping!
PS. If you’re a big dog owner, I’d love to know if you can find a way to do this!
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