Essentials needed for cleaning up your dog after a muddy winter walk.
It’s no real hardship in the summer but our winter walks can end up as a total mud fest.
We’ve had Leo for almost 5 years and he loves to swim so often comes home wet and gritty.
I thought he was a mucky pup until we got our rescue spaniel Charley.
Oh my goodness, she attracts mud like nothing else on earth. Little balls of it stick to the fur between her toes and clumps gather on the soft fur of her tummy.
Her coat is so fluffy that she attracts every seed, twig and burr so checking her over after every walk is essential. I do this before she gets washed so she doesn’t end up in a tangle. She also gets a good brushing before we start, to get rid of anything else, dead or alive, that might be clinging onto her soft black coat. Slugs have a tendency to stick and are a nightmare to remove.
Leo is a different matter altogether. We call him the ‘Teflon dog’ as although he gets filthy and wet nothing seems to stick for long and by the time we’ve arrived back at home much of the mud has usually dropped off.
However cleaning them both up properly and easily has become a bit of an obsession, but over time I have developed a fairly slick routine.
There are lots of things to consider in order to streamline the process and get a sparkling clean dog. So here are the top 10 things that have really helped me get to grips with reducing the mess and cleaning up the dogs after every muddy walk this winter.
Car seat covers.
Protect the inside of your car so that transporting the dogs home in a state isn’t going to ruin your upholstery. There are lots of padded waterproof seat covers available and you can get them to fit to most cars. I have a simple seat cover that clips to the rear seat headrests in my Fiat 500 whilst my husband has an amazing custom made boot liner for his Jeep that is nicely padded so it makes long journeys more comfortable for the dogs. It is best to google your make of car to see what is available that is a custom fit but generic ones are readily available online and aren’t too costly.
Warm Water Supply.
We wash the dogs on the patio in the back garden and until recently it involved carrying a bucket of warm water from the kitchen to the outside or using a cold water hose which the dogs hated.
So I employed the skills of a fabulous local plumber who replaced our old outdoor fittings with a new cold water tap and added a hot water tap next to it.
This has absolutely revolutionised the clean up procedure as both dogs are now much happier to be hosed down with the warm water. It is so much quicker too.
The cost and amount of work needed to fit outside taps will vary from house to house depending on if you need new pipes running to the outside. We were lucky in that the existing pipes were just extended out through the wall of our downstairs bathroom onto the outside wall.
This cost us around £100 but has really been such an improvement it was totally worth the money spent.
Outdoor Tap Hose Mixer Attachment.
To get the perfect water temperature for your dog a mixer attachment is essential. A small family company, Moosedog based in North Yorkshire, makes the ideal tap attachment which they developed to solve their own dog washing problems. They sell the mixer tap attachments on eBay, you can also get hoses and spray guns from them too! It is compatible with most snap fit hose pipes.
Expandable Hose and Spray Attachment.
Every dog has different sensory perception so some will readily accept a spray down with a hose but others can be fearful of the noise of the water and dislike the pressure of a spray jet.
To counteract this you can use a trigger handled spray attachment which has multiple settings and spray patterns making it easier to find the water pressure that your dog can tolerate. An expandable hose is helpful too so you can move easily round your dog. These are available quite reasonably at The Range. This one below is a 50ft hose with spray gun for less than £20.
I like to use different shampoos on different days and at different times of the year.
In the summer months I like to use the Little Beast Shampoo Bar from the Little Soap Company. This pet shampoo bar has calming Lavender Essential Oil, moisturising Apricot Oil and a hint of ground coffee beans to help naturally repel fleas. As it is a shampoo bar there are no spills so it is very practical to use and great for travelling. It has cardboard packaging and can be used on all coat types or use just to use to rinse muddy paws. It is also a pure organic soap made with the finest natural ingredients and totally free from detergents, SLS, alcohol, parabens, sorbates, silicones, sulphates and preservatives.
In the winter and during this current Covid 19 pandemic I have been using Aqueos Dog Shampoo. It is Anti-Viral, Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Fungal. It can be used as an every day shampoo or for a multitude of applications from skin irritations, rashes, itchy skin, general skin conditions or very smelly dogs. It's a godsend for dogs who like to roll in anything nasty or who are generally itchy. It is very competitively priced compared to the vet-prescribed versions that are available. It is a very gentle product which is safe to use for dogs and for owners, and is often used by professional dog groomers. I tend to use it from November through to April as there have been cases of Alabama Rot in areas of woodland on nearby Cannock Chase where we like to walk the dogs sometimes. There is no clinical evidence that this makes any difference but it gives me some peace of mind that the dog’s feet are really clean.
Protection for your feet.
Wellies are a must for dog washing or your feet could get very wet. I need firm support for my feet as I have arthritis so I actually do the dog walks in my wellies as they have sturdy Vibram soles and they provide good ankle support. My current favourites are Muck Boots as they are insulated too which is so good for winter walkies. Plus they are a godsend when the dogs decide to play in the local stream and want me to play too!
Wipe clean apron.
If you want to keep clean and dry yourself throughout the dog washing process then a waterproof apron is essential. I’ve tried several but the best so far is a wipe clean one made of oilcloth. There are lots on the market but some of the nicest and well made ones I’ve seen come from The Cosy Canine Company which is a lovely small business I’ve come to know whilst networking with other pet business owners. Here is the lovely maker Lottie below with her muddy dog Pickle. Her aprons are fab and there are several in gorgeous dog themed prints.
Once your pup is clean as a whistle you will need a really absorbent towel or two to dry them off. Many dog towels (and other towels as well) are currently made of microfibre. Microfibre is known for being lightweight, super absorbent, quick drying, and durable.
For people who are unused to microfibre towels, they may seem too thin or light to do a good job. But thickness is not a guide to the absorbency of microfibre. The most absorbent and effective microfibre towels have split fibres that will quickly absorb liquid and dirt, which is the most important feature in the best dog towels. This makes them an absolute ‘must have’ for dog owners.
Microfibre is also healthy for a dog’s coat, reducing frizz and damage to the hairs. Most dogs dislike being wet, so the faster drying time of microfibre can reduce stress levels. I like using microfibre towels on Leo & Charley because they are really soft and do a great job.
We really like the ones from Paws and Presto.
Warm up Jacket.
When you are all done and dusted there may still be a bit of residual water in your dogs coat. Leo seems to dry off quite quickly which is probably because Labradors naturally have an oily water repellent coat. Charley however seems to get soaked to the skin so she always ends up shivering.
This is where a drying coat comes in really handy. We bought ours from Ruff & Tumble Dog Coats. They are really absorbent and help to warm up the dogs quickly. They even have drying mitts to match. We always take them with us on holiday as they are fab if you’ve had a day on the beach and are travelling with wet, salty, sea dogs.
Treats for being good dogs.
All that the dogs need once the washing and towel drying is complete is a long lasting chew to settle down with whilst they finish drying off.
We are lucky to have a local supplier of fab natural treats that both Leo and Charley love. Friends & Canines Natural Treats specialise in chews with no additives or preservatives which are made without chemicals. If you’d like to try the products they will post out direct to your door. Their chews are long lasting and tasty any have been a great hit with Leo and Charley. Their favourites are dried chicken hearts and beef muscle. If you don’t fancy the natural chews you could always use a Kong prepared with a bit of cheese spread or JR Pate inside.
These are Leo’s other favoured options. By the time the dogs are happily chewing, I try to take a break with a nice cuppa and like sit with them in front of the fire with my book.
This equipment has made my life a lot easier and it has taken 4 years of dog ownership to get the clean up routine honed and functioning well. Hopefully these tried and tested products and ideas might help you to find the perfect routine for washing your own dirty dog.