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This year in the Pacific Northwest we didn’t have the gradual move into fall that I’m used to; instead, it feels like it went from 70 degree weather to 50 degree weather.  I’m freezing!  Along with the cooler temps comes the rain and our puppy, Blue, isn’t quite sure of what the sky is doing.  Often we see him sitting next to Rodrigo while they stare up at the sky.  Sydney just goes inside.

The point of my ramble about the weather is that with the rain comes wet dogs and wet dog smell.  We’ve managed to take care of the wet dog smell in the house by cleaning regularly (sweeping, moping, vacuuming, FeBreezing), but then the dogs come in and it’s ruined.

In a perfect world where there is loads of time and every idea I come up with is brilliant, I would bathe the dogs weekly, but I’ve been told that this is a terrible idea, because it dries out their skin, making it dry and itchy.

So we came up with a fall/winter routine…

Wipe Your Paws

The dogs are invited in and held in the mud/laundry room where we have several towels available to dry their hair and paws.  This is great, because it keeps our furniture dry, the dogs love getting dried off, and it’s a great idea to keep your dogs’ paws as dry as possible.

Hey, Wait Your Turn

The laundry room is small when you have two adults and three dogs in it so sometimes one of us will stay on the outside of the laundry room to give the dogs a second dry down (surprisingly we only go through a couple of towels); it also allows the process to go more quickly.  If they’re really wet (like after a bath), then we go through about 4-5 towels for our three dogs, which immediately go into the washing machine.

Walk In Shower

Sometimes the dogs have been digging or were kind enough to roll into something foul and that’s when the walk in shower comes in handy.  It’s right outside the laundry room so we can march them right in (they know the drill) and rinse them off.  We invested $10 in a shower nozzle that is perfect for bathing the dogs, because it hangs down and has several speeds, including a pause function so that we don’t have to reheat the water when it’s time for a rinse..

Oh, Sydney, It Smells Pretty

And then each dog gets a spritz of canine cologne that smells amazing.  They don’t hunker away as quickly as they do when we spray the holistic Flea & Tick Treatment (which smells nice too), but they’re not fans.

Let’s rule out any health issues…

Before I start sharing tips on shampoos and colognes, we need to talk about our dogs’ health.  I’m always learning something new, so you are too!

When it comes to how smelly our dogs are, we need to look at Diet, Health, Breed, and Environment.  Erin Cole, Certified Pet Groomer at Stay N Play Pet Ranch, uses the following checklist, and suggests these tips, when a pet owner says their dog smells and the bath doesn’t last long enough:

DIET:  We are what we eat and so are our pets. What are you feeding your dog?

  • Change in their diet to a food that does not have byproducts or preservatives can often change the smell of your dog. Some of the preservatives and byproducts found in some pet foods are difficult for the dog to process and results in a buildup in their organs. The body simply begins to smell.
  • Changing to a natural food without chemicals or byproducts could make a difference. It could be their specific metabolic process does better on chicken versus beef, or fish versus chicken.
  • It’s also possible they could need a supplement added to their diet to balance their nutritional needs, such as an omega 3 product.

HEALTH:  There are a number of medical conditions that can cause your dog to smell. A visit with your veterinarian could identify the cause of the smell and a medical condition that needs to be treated.

  • Check you dogs ears, smell and buildup of wax in the ears could be a sign of infection.
  • Check your dogs teeth, smell could be coming from bad teeth and gingivitis.
  • Certain skin conditions, such as yeast infections or seborrhea can promote a smell.

BREED: The physical structure of a dog can contribute to its smell, regardless of how often you bathe it and will require a more frequent routine of cleaning parts of the dog. Your groomer or your veterinarian can advise you as to how often or what products to use. Examples of this are: 

  • Breeds with folds in their skin such as Bulldogs and Sharpeis benefit from routine cleaning of their skin folds; otherwise they may build up a yeast type of infection in the folds of skin.
  • Cocker Spaniel type of dogs with long ears, often get infection in their ears because air flow into the ear canal is restricted. Routine cleaning of their ears, will help prevent this.


  • Check your dog’s pads, there are times when there’s a buildup of debris between the pads on their feet that can promote an offensive smell.
  • Routine bathing approximately every four weeks prevents a buildup of the oils on the coat of the dog, which attracts dirt, dust, pollen and other smelly things.
  • Ensuring that the bath is thorough and the soap is fully rinsed off is critical, any soap residue left on the dog will attract more dirt more quickly.

A healthy pet’s skin should shine and should not smell. Ask your groomer or your veterinarian, specific to your pet, what recommendations they would make.

Let’s talk great products…

Vintage Doggy Spa

Dr. Cathy, my favorite veterinarian who has done me a tremendous solid by helping me with most (probably all) of the health topics on Keep the Tail Wagging shared her favorite shampoo.  Dr. Cathy hails from the Midwest and she loves “citrus shampoo from Vintage Doggie Spa. The citrus really cuts the stink. A groomer friend of mine says it’s the best for cutting the grime of the super grubby dogs who haven’t been in to the groomer in ages. There is a spritz that works in a pinch when there’s no time to bathe – just squirt and rub in.  She was so enthusiastic about this product that I’m going to give it a try.  I love citrus.

Neutrogena Shampoo

Alan N. Canton, Managing Partner of 499WordPressDesign and dog lover, shared a cool tip.  His family uses Neutrogena Shampoo.

We usually take Jack, our Australian Shepherd to the groomer every month, but there are times when he needs a bath before that.

We have a walk-in shower. We have a little bench in the shower and a hand-held shower head. We put Jack on a short leash, turn the water on to warm (not hot,) strip down and bring him in the shower. We use my Neutrogena Shampoo on him as it is low-sudsing and washes out easier and faster than others (I don’t know why.) To dry we use LOTS and LOTS of towels (which then go right into the washing machine.) After a good toweling most often we let him air-dry but sometimes we’ll use a hair dryer on medium or low. If you do a good toweling they dry faster than you would think they would.

Baby Shampoo

Amber Dixon of Utah gives her Black Lab, April, a bath every 3 months and uses baby shampoo – I love the simplicity.  Okay, I’m so jealous.  But Amber did do her time, because she used to have to bathe April up to four times a day, because she insisted upon rolling into everything that was on the “Don’t Roll In That” list.  This frequent bathing dried out April’s skin, but she’s a little older now and has learned to be careful where she rolls and Amber rarely smells the “dog smell” with her pup.

My favorite product…

I have two products that I love; actually I have three.  John Paul Pet Oatmeal Shampoo by Paul Mitchell dog shampoo (my favorite scent is Oatmeal, but it comes in other scents).  It’s spendy if you buy it at the store, because you can only get it at beauty shops.  So I order it online through Amazon.com.

Life’s Abundance Bath Fresh Mist.  You’ll have to find a Life’s Abundance rep to order this.  I’ll be a rep through January 2013 and then my account will be terminated and I’ll have to order through someone else.   This product wipes out smells immediately and the smell left behind is heaven.  I bury my nose into our dogs (they love this and think it’s a game) just to get my fill it smells so good.

Bright Eyes Pet Wellness flea & tick spray.  We bought one big bottle at the beginning of the summer and we still have plenty left over.  We didn’t have one flea or tick and the dogs smelled great.  They weren’t fans of the scent, but we loved it.

Dog Washing Tip

If you use the walk in shower, Alan and I both agree that you should encourage your dog to do most of his shaking inside the shower.  It’s a pain in the neck for me to wipe down the bathroom after a shake-fest.  Especially after 3 dogs take a turn at soaking the ceiling, floors, mirror and everything else.

Wouldn’t it be cool if all of our dogs loved baths like Kitty below?

Not it’s YOUR turn!  What is your favorite dog grooming product?  Shampoo, cologne, conditioner, brushes, combs, etc…Please share and give a plug to your favorite product(s).

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