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Keeping Your Dog Clean

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People often ask me how often they get a bath because their fur feels so good.

 

Me, too! And I have to laugh when I tell them it's been years since they've had baths.

 

Tansy got one when I first adopted her 2 1/2 years ago because she smelled nasty from the shelter, but she hasn't had one since. I'll bet it's been at least 5 years (maybe longer) since Bodhi had one, and that was because I'd used an essential oil based spot-on insect repellent that he had a really bad reaction to and I needed to get to off his skin.

 

Both of them have really nice coats.

 

I'll second investigating the food.

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My dog had a greasy coat for years (and allergic skin stuff intermittently) and she's suddenly all soft and shiny since we switched her to a less-allergenic food (one of the royal canin ones). I know, I know, I sound like one of those hucksters you read on every forum. But it really did work, and I can't see anything other than the food that changed. She has to be bathed a lot less now too, and smells less. Though I reckon a dog who is bathed regularly will probably smell a lot stronger of dog anyway.

 

That's great that it worked! A month ago, I decided to switch to homemade food for Kieran. It's been really good for him so far. He used to have room-clearing gas, but he hasn't done that in the past few weeks. I figure something must be working. I was so tired of switching foods over and over again with no results, especially since it takes so long for him to adjust. I'm hoping that his itching will stop so I can wean him off of Temaril-P. My friend thinks it might not even be allergies, but syringomyelia...which would be bizarre in a dog like him.

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I only wash (shampoo) Tio once a season or so. BUT, he gets warm showers regularly because of all the time we spend at the beach. If you happened to watch my little video in the health section you'll see that he loves being on the beach and in the water and I'm always a little concerned how the salt affects his fur.

 

He just finished with a massive shed that has left him pretty scrawny looking and I'm hoping it's just a seasonal thing and not a result of the salt water. He gets a good hose down outside and then into the onsen for a warm shower.....all of which he quite enjoys.

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We are on our third dog - and on a bottle of doggie shampoo left from the lab-shepherd who died in 1982.

 

Our first border collie mix, Fergie got 2 real baths. The first was in a motel bathtub when she dropped and rolled in something with fresh blood. The second was from something she rolled in over by the local pond. We had her for over 15 years.

 

We have never bathed our 3-year-old border collie mix Dixie.

 

We have discovered that these smooth-coated pups can get covered in mud at the start of a mile walk - and be clean by the time we get home.

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It's interesting to see how this trends - my take is that many (most?) don't find a need to bathe their Border Collies at all and find their skin/coat to benefit from not being shampooed. Some have a dog that requires a certain level of bathing due to allergies or other skin issues, but those seem to be in the very minority. And some simply like to bathe their dogs, and that's okay, too, as long as it's not detrimental.

 

I grew up with a largely-white Border Collie-type stray. She got a bath once or twice a year because it simply brought out the brilliant white in her coat - and, being a house dog, she did not experience the cleansing effect of running through the hayfields, swimming in ponds, etc.

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We have a species of Tar Weed in this part of the NW which seems most prevalent July-Sept. It coats animals with a sticky substance (non water soluble) and with pods from the plant itself. Of course, dirt and other stickers, burrs and thistles are better able to cling to hair covered in this material. I just read about the many species of the plant, and there is some debate whether it is efficient to attempt eradication, as it occupies an ecological niche that competes only very little with grasses. In any event, the fields my dog and I train and graze sheep are not within my pasture management control.

 

No amount of brushing alone removes the sticky substance or layers of adhered vegetation. Five to ten minutes in the fields we work cover my dog. I groom a little, and use enzyme shampoos and conditioners, followed by additional wet brushing. Of necessity, my BC gets a such a hose bath almost every day for 3-5 weeks when I am grazing sheep and watching a friend's place, and less frequently in summer months when merely training there. Otherwise, for eight months of the year, perhaps 2-3 baths...just because. My avatar has some indication of the tarry substance (and stickers against her black) straight down from Josie's white tipped ear, on her white collar. No teflon coat or pond swim is going to shed that stuff.

 

I learned my own DIY techniques to remove seed pods from deep within her ears. Cleared them with the vet.

 

Josie's coat tends to be wavy, consequently as you might imagine, continual bathing made it look pretty wild for a while. She is just starting to appear normal after last summer-fall. -- Have a Happy Thanksgiving, TEC

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A few comments have mentioned food/supplements, and I wonder if it's the food I'm feeding Caleb that's making his coat feel blah?

He's currently eating Taste of the Wild. Before this (6+ months ago) was Diamond Naturals, and then Orijen as a pup. I've considered switching foods for him before, but I don't know if I want to do kibble again or go raw.

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One of my dogs needs a lot more fat in his diet for his coat to look good and to keep dandruff down than either of my other 2 do. I can always tell when he's not getting enough fat when his coat starts loosing condition. When he has enough, people always comment on how soft his fur is.

 

That's one of the things I love about feeding raw. It's so easy to tweak to meet each dog's nutritional needs without having to purchase different kinds of food. I have a friend who has three dogs and she buys three different brands of dog food, a separate brand for each dog. :huh:

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A few comments have mentioned food/supplements, and I wonder if it's the food I'm feeding Caleb that's making his coat feel blah?

He's currently eating Taste of the Wild. Before this (6+ months ago) was Diamond Naturals, and then Orijen as a pup. I've considered switching foods for him before, but I don't know if I want to do kibble again or go raw.

I used to feed Diamond Naturals Chicken and Rice, and was very happy with it - but, as I do with any food that I have fed, I do supplement with fish oil, Vitamin E, and extra fat (I aim for a 3:2 ratio of protein to fat, which is not the case with any of the kibbles I have fed). I can't say my dogs ever looked better on any other food than the Diamond Naturals but I discontinued feeding it for other reasons of my own.

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I used to feed Diamond Naturals Chicken and Rice, and was very happy with it - but, as I do with any food that I have fed, I do supplement with fish oil, Vitamin E, and extra fat (I aim for a 3:2 ratio of protein to fat, which is not the case with any of the kibbles I have fed). I can't say my dogs ever looked better on any other food than the Diamond Naturals but I discontinued feeding it for other reasons of my own.

 

I know about fish oil and Vitamin E tablets (something like 200mg for every 25lbs or something, right?), but how do you incorporate more fat into their diet? Do you just give them fatty foods?

I have no idea about the ratio though, unless 3:2 means you're giving them a third more of protein rather than fat? i.e. 30% protein would be 20% fat?

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Yes, that's how I figure it.

 

What do I feed them? Animal fat of one type or another. Since we produce cattle and have a custom beef or two butchered each year, I have access to plenty of our pasture-raised beef fat. I can feed raw (trimmings) or cooked (from pot roast, steak, burger drippings). A little bacon grease is a favorite if I have that.

 

What I usually feed as supplement is about a tablespoon of fat a day for each of the boys and about half that for the little girl (who is very efficient with her calories). Oh, and a raw egg in the morning which is a good source of both protein and fat.

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I bath my dogs when they get really ripe smelling or roll in something. Otherwise they swim the mountain creek pond daily and the mud etc gets washed off. The probably get real bath 3 a year.

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My small dogs, who require regular clipper grooming, get bathed about once every eight weeks when I groom them; sometimes once a month. Boo, the white fluffy one, gets the dirtiest, and has to be bathed.

 

But with the border collies I find that, like most people who have posted in this thread, it is completely different: they rarely need to be bathed. Only if they get into something stinky, or if they are going visiting and have to make a really good impression on the hosts. Otherwise, brushing does the trick. They can be covered in mud and as soon as it dries it all just falls off. This has been true of every border collie I have ever had in my home, as my dog or as foster. Border collies just seem to have amazing coats, that way.

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Gideon did that when he was a pup, except it was dog poop and he ate it too. Thank God, he grew out of it.

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Gideon did that when he was a pup, except it was dog poop and he ate it too. Thank God, he grew out of it.

 

Glad to hear that he grew out of the poop eating. Risk is obsessed with it but maybe there's hope. He goes crazy when there's anything he considers edible around.

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Well, we also had a severe diet change in there and that and my displeasure could have affected that habit. I have a friend whose dog is 8 and she still has to pick up the second a deposit is made or her dog will eat it. And just to spice things up, her dog has food allergies and reacts to what the other dogs have eaten, even after digestion.

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Reading these posts have made me so happy, I can finally tell my husband to get off my back about bathing Lilli. I have told him time and time again she doesn't need a bath once a month, it is not good for her coat but he doesn't believe me. It is amazing that after 3 months or so of not having a bath she doesn't smell at all and it is amazing what a weekly brush can do. Her coat is so glossy and in my opinion she always smells beautiful. Besides she absolutely hates the bath but loves being hosed lightly when I water the garden. She loses her mind jumping around in the water.

 

Shazmn

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In all honesty my dogs get baths pretty frequently. But Layla rolls in things. She'll catch snakes and then roll in them or when we go to the farm if she finds deer or cow crap, the nasty little dog rolls in it lol. Beyond smelling bad or being sticky she would only get a bath in the spring to help with the blow out(she sits on my couch and our beds, we give her a good bath and brushing with the slicker brush) her coat doesn't get dirty though. Even the caked in dirt brushes out with just the bristle brush.

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I have a mostly white dog. I bathe him only if he rolls in something disgusting, so not very often (and actually many times he'll just get hosed off for his trouble, no shampoo involved). He has a yellowish tinge to his fur, especially around his haunches/tail/back legs--the parts most in contact with the ground/dirt.

 

His littermate has a lot of white and always is bright like a beacon.

 

The only difference between the two is that mine is a country dog and his brother is a city dog. So I'm guessing that it's just an environment (dirt) factor. My dog was worse with the yellowing when we lived in areas where there was a lot of red clay dirt.

 

If you really want a brilliant white, you'd need to bathe with a shampoo that contains bluing.

 

J.

I bath very rarely, about once a year at the end of summer, so the skin oils buil up again before the cold starts. With Tess being almost all white, I notice that although her fur is self cleaning, she does tend to get an yellowish hue no matter how miuch I brush her, especially around her neck. She swims a lot and that helps, but still... What do those of you that have dogs with lots of white do about this?

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Maralynn,

I'll answer for Sue. It's not always easy to find commercial dog foods that have that exact ratio (protein:fat). Often to get that ratio, you have to add fat.

 

J.

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Thanks for your answer, Julie. I guess I'll stick with the yellowish hue, I don't like the idea of bathing her often. Just out of curiosity, what is bluing?

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