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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

News & Views November 2013 Issue

Bath Time For the Dog

One dog tolerates it; the other hates it flat out.

In certain ways, Franklin and Rosie are dainty sorts. They both hate the water and will step around even the most shallow of puddles to avoid wetting their paws. But Franklin in particular, even way past puppyhood at the age of five, still likes to roll around in God knows what. Just the other day he came back to me after running off near a cove, happy-eyed and clearly reeking of — I kid you not — dead fish.

He knows the drill. Like a prisoner starring in his own movie, he came into the house and walked toward the bathroom as if in shackles, letting me help him lift the gelatinous 60-pound mass I call his body into the tub.

Franklin takes his bath like a man (albeit an unhappy one).

During a bath, without any resistance he stands properly chastened and cooperative while either I or my wife make sure the shower spray gets him thoroughly wet and then lather him up with doggie shampoo. He even turns this way and that to let us get under his neck, over to the other side, behind his legs, etc. He’s not too patient about being toweled off after the lengthy suds rinse — he just wants to shake off as much water as he can and go outside as soon as possible to finish drying au naturel. But he deals.

Not so Rosie. That 28-pound pet, not much bigger than a large cat, fights from the moment we lead her toward the bathroom as if she is within an inch of her life. By the time we finish bathing her — and it does take both of us, one to hold her by her harness and the other to do the wetting and lathering — we are soaking wet from the water she has shaken off and also from sweat. It’s an unbelievable workout. She’s like the delicate old lady who hasn’t an ounce of strength but can push a piano out of the window during a fire; you’d never know she had it in her.

Fortunately, we don’t need to bathe Rosie very often. Her hygiene transgressions tend to be more on the order of getting dirt on herself when she runs into the goat pen in our neighbor’s yard than from perfuming herself with dead fish. Actually, we don’t need to bathe her at all, as Tufts veterinary dermatologist Andrea Lam, DVM, points out. A healthy dog’s skin does a perfectly fine job of keeping out harmful bacteria and other unwanted dirt. The bathing, it turns out, is pretty much all for us. 

Happy tails to you,

Lawrence Lindner

Executive Editor

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