After a winter of incessant rain, dog owners often face a daily battle with mud. As the fields and parks turn to sludge, keeping our dogs clean and smelling pleasant takes a great deal of time and effort, and can be a tricky task to undertake.

It is predicted that the amount of money spent on pet hygiene will reach £380 million by 2017, highlighting the value placed on furry household members. However, keeping on top of a dog’s cleanliness doesn’t need to cost the earth or become a stressful process. Sarah Solomon, Practice Manager of Heath Veterinary Clinic in Burgess Hill and Hurstpierpoint, offers her simple-to-follow tips on how to bathe your dog at home without the trauma:

How to pamper your pooch

The importance of a bath

Bathing and grooming are two different things. It is important to give your dog’s coat a thorough brush at least once a week to ensure the hair doesn’t become matted. You can also check the general health of your dog, looking for any unusual lumps, bumps or ticks too. For longer-haired dogs, regular visits to the groomers are often required every 6-8 weeks. It is important to remember to take young dogs for regular grooming sessions to keep on top of their coats and ensure they are comfortable in the environment.

Don’t overdo it

Bathing your dog is the best way to remove mud, however, dogs don’t need to be washed as much as humans. If your dog is only slightly dirty try grooming first, as it is possible to over-bathe your pet and remove natural oils found on the skin. It is important to use shampoos sparingly as they can dry out the coat and cause itching.

Prevent slips

Dogs that feel unsure on their feet in the bath tub are more likely to become anxious and stressed. By placing a rubber bath mat or towel on the bottom surface, your pet will feel more secure and sure-footed, preventing slips and injuries. Keep the water warm and the shower spray light.

Familiarisation

Let your dog sniff any equipment you may use, for example brushes and shower sprays, and introduce the sound of running water before soaking your dog. These simple techniques will enable your pet to become accustomed to bath-time. Reinforce good behaviour with plenty of praise and treats, ensuring a calm and controlled atmosphere.

The power of massage

Stressed pets often respond well to massage. To ensure a calm bathing experience for your dog, massage with a firm but gentle hand, stroking along the back towards the tail, which is one of the areas on your dog that helps with relaxation. This technique is perfect for the nervous or stressed dog and with regular use will be an instant calming technique.

Drying

Perhaps the most daunting task is drying your dog. Be sure to thoroughly dry your dog after a bath to ensure they don’t get a chill. Many dogs are fearful of blow dryers so a good rub down with a towel is often best.

Don’t forget to contact your local veterinary clinic for your pet’s general health check-ups, including nail clipping and teeth cleaning.

Heath Veterinary Clinic has two clinics, located in Burgess Hill and Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex and offers free registration checks, consultations and home visits. In addition, both clinics have full surgical and hospitalisation facilities and can dispense all prescriptions. For more information, please visit www.heathvets.com