K9 Corner, Jan. 17

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Contributing writer

I have been asked about how I keep my dog’s coat so thick and shiny when she is a real senior citizen. It seems that my questioner bathed her dog with her (human) shampoo and now the dog is covered with red, angry bumps and whines.

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Human shampoos have a stronger formula than canine shampoos and some dogs have more sensitive skin than others.  Therefore, my recommendation was to rewash the dog with a mild canine shampoo and even dilute the soap a bit to make it even milder. Rinsing is very important. I used to tell my 4-H group to rinse their dogs “until they think the animal will melt and go down the drain.” Soap has no place in the fur or on the skin of a dog.

  Since this animal’s skin was already reacting to the chemicals in the human shampoo, I recommended a soothing coat conditioner, or a spray like Allercaine. The reader called back later to say the dog was responding well.

As far as my elderly dog, I use a show-dog quality shampoo and conditioner and added a digestive stimulant to her food. She eats well, and has a thick, shiny coat.

 The reader also asked about body odor in dogs. She complained that the odor returned as soon as her dog was dry and the odor was not localized.

  The main sources of canine body odors are: anal glands, ears, and mouth. Occasionally the bad odor can be traced to the dog’s collar which picks up the hair oils and waxes. These oils, called sebum, have an acrid odor, but it is easy to clean the collar; (though one collar on a rescue dog took three scrubbings before the scent was eliminated).

Anal glands are the most frequent culprit of body odor. These glands have tiny openings on either side of the anus and are used by the dog to mark its territory. Some small dogs are unable to express their anal glands because the required muscles are weak. When this happens the anal fluid builds up in the sacs causing pain. The dog starts to lick the area, then it starts to scoot on the floor, (rugs are a favorite scooting place), or even on the grass. Scooting is a main symptom that the dog has a problem with its anal glands. The dog sits with its hind legs extended as far in front as possible so that its rear and tail have solid contact with the ground or floor. Then it pulls itself forward with it front legs.

If left alone anal glands usually get worse, going from “full” to “impacted,” to infected. Therefore, it is wise to check the glands each time the dog is bathed. Your veterinarian can show you how to express them if your dog is not able to do so. For very full or infected glands, it is better to let your veterinarian treat the condition.

Odors coming from the ears or mouth should be evaluated by the veterinarian.