Eco Lassie has two dogs who, despite daily river swims, enjoy forays into a muddy marsh. Have you ever had the delightful aroma of marsh mud permeate your home? This is when they get a bath, from a gentle hosing down, to a full-onslaught lathering up in the outdoor shower.
What really is the best way to naturally bathe your pets on those occasions when they just absolutely need one?
The biggest concern in what kind of soap to use for your pets. There is a world of difference between human shampoos, regular pet shampoos and natural pet shampoos.
Human shampoos are too acidic for pets. Human skin pH (the measure of acidity versus alkalinity) ranges 5.2 to 6.2. But dogs skin pH is in the range of 5.5 to 7.5. A pH of 7 is your best choice, and if your pet shampoo label doesn’t specify pH, look for the phrase “pH balanced.” These will rinse well and not build up, and will also not strip the coat and skin of its natural oils.
Now on to the differences between regular pet shampoos and natural ones. While regular ones are often inexpensive, they are chemically based and often too harsh for your pet, producing difficult-to-rinse high lather. Pet shampoos don’t need a lush lather to work. Their strong fragrance can also upset your pet’s sense of smell.
To choose the best natural pet shampoo, read the ingredients list. You are looking for organic herbs, antioxidants, and moisturizers that will be in such things as aloe, coconut, sage, eucalyptus, wheat protein, amino acids and vitamin E. Jojoba oil provides deep cleaning, while comfrey extract acts as a conditioner to give your pet’s coat a silky feel. Cedar wood repels insects and is a great natural deodorant and coat conditioner. Other naturals that give your pet’s coat a great scent and keep insects away are lavender, citurs and chamomile. Aloe vera and oatmeal relieve the dry, itchy skin that many breeds with white coats are susceptible to, while other natural skin moisturizers are honey and tree tree oil.
Cat owners should read labels, too. Cats are more sensitive to some of the herbs and essential oils in pet shampoos, so be sure to read the label to see if it’s safe for your kitty, or choose one specifically designed for cats.
The How-to’s of bathing your pet don’t vary with the shampoo. I do my Spinone in our outdoor shower because of his size, but most dogs can be bathed in your tub, a special pet tub, or depending on their size, your kitchen sink.
Brush your pet first to dislodge dead hair, and if bathing in a sink or tub, line the bottom with a bath towel or rubber mat to prevent slipping. Some groomers recommend using cotton balls in the animal’s ears to prevent water seepage. Wet your pet thoroughly with warm water and apply a small amount of shampoo to the top of his cute head, then along his body and sides. Gently massage the shampoo and don’t worry if there is not a huge buildup of lather. Begin to rinse at the head and down the body until the water runs clear. Don’t forget his tail!
Towel dry your dog, while still in the bath if you can. Either allow to air dry, or use a pet hair dryer–human dryers get too hot. After complete drying, brush your pet and detangle any mats.
The upshot: You’ll notice your pet smells sweeter, flakes will be gone, and your pet’s coat will be silkier and fuller. The cucumbers are optional!