Ten Popular Myths About Grooming Dogs

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • Exploring the myths of grooming your dog
  • Discovering why some myths have a basis in fact
  • Spotting a bogus statementThe Skinny on Hairy Health Issues, you know the answer to this one. If you wash a skunked dog in tomato juice, you get a stinky pink dog!

Technical Stuff

A skunk’s spray is made up of a number of stinky compounds called thiols. Thiols are the same things that make decomposing flesh and dog poop stink, but those thiols aren’t necessarily the same ones that are in skunk spray. Skunks usually produce about two tablespoons of the stuff — enough for six quick shots. If a skunk actually dumps all of it, the skunk needs a week or two to recharge.

Most people think the tomato juice bath works because eventually the stench assaults your nostrils so badly that your brain actually starts getting used to it. So after several minutes of stink, the skunk smell really won’t smell as bad as it does to someone who has just been exposed to it.
You can successfully handle skunk spray only in a handful of ways, and they’re covered in Chapter The Skinny on Hairy Health Issues.

Dogs Naturally Have Bad Breath

Your dog doesn’t have to have bad breath. The myth that surrounds doggie breath stems from people who think that dogs are naturally supposed to have bad breath — and that just isn’t true. Your dog’s breath needs to be kissably sweet, except, of course, when he’s been eating something vile or disgusting.
If your dog’s breath constantly stinks like a sewer, it can be a more serious problem — tooth and gum troubles. It may be that your dog has an even more serious problem — like oral cancer. So when you detect a constant odor, it’s time for a trip to the vet for a checkup.

Raw Egg Is Good for Your Dog’s Coat

Here’s another old wives’ tale: Giving your dog a raw egg is good for his coat. Yes, eggs are great protein sources and full of vitamins and minerals, so nothing is wrong with treating your dog to an egg from time to time, but raw egg contains raw egg whites, which can cause a biotin deficiency, which, in turn, can cause hair loss, among other things.
When you cook an egg, you make the egg white safe for doggie consumption, and it no longer binds with biotin. You can give your dog a cooked egg as a wonderful treat anytime, but saying that it’s better than having a balanced diet is ridiculous. You can do more for your dog’s coat by feeding him a balanced diet.

Never, Ever Shave Your Dog’s Coat

This myth is one of the partially true ones. When you shave a dog, you expose the skin to the elements and leave it unprotected. For example, for long-coated and double-coated dogs, shaving your dog’s coat in the summer isn’t a great idea. Those dogs normally shed out their undercoats, leaving the top coat for protection against the sun’s rays, and besides, the area from which the undercoat is missing actually helps cool the dog against the hot sun.
However, shaving a dog’s coat sometimes is warranted — no way around it. These times include:

– If the breed standard calls for shaving the dog. Poodles and other breeds fall into this category. The types of coats they have require such grooming.

– When dreadful mats occur throughout the dog’s hair. In some cases, the dog has to be shaved to enable a healthy new coat to grow in.

– Skin conditions or other problems arise. You may be forced to shave your dog’s coat so you can treat these problems.

When you do have to shave a dog, you need to realize that what you’re doing is taking away his natural protection. As a result, you’ll have to add back that protection in the form of something like a T-shirt or sweater depending on the climate. Note: Dogs can get sunburned, so if you have a bare dog, you’re going to have to use a good quality sunscreen (either one intended for humans or one developed for dogs, which you can find online).
Shaving a dog isn’t the best thing in the world for the dog, but with a little care you can make it work.

Garlic and Brewer’s Yeast Get Rid of Fleas

A myth out there that purports that garlic and brewer’s yeast get rid of fleas is so wrong, it’s almost funny. Brewer’s yeast has plenty of B-vitamins and other good things for your dog, but it’s completely wrong when it comes to controlling fleas. Oddly enough, when companies that make flea and tick products want to grow fleas, they do it in brewer’s yeast — so brewer’s yeast doesn’t kill fleas at all.
What about garlic? Well, when it comes to blood suckers, garlic may keep away vampires (the science is inconclusive), but it won’t do much for fleas. A proven systemic flea-control product (either topical or oral) works much better and more efficiently than these old wives’ tale cures.

Never Use Human Shampoo on Dogs

This myth also is another of the partially true ones. Using human shampoos on dogs isn’t a great idea, because they’re not formulated for a dog’s coat. However, in a pinch when you have nothing else, you can use human shampoo on a dog’s coat. Just make sure that it isn’t medicated and that you rinse it really well. Using a human shampoo all the time can dry out a dog’s coat, but once in a while isn’t going to hurt anything. If you’re faced with a dirty dog and no doggie shampoo, go ahead and use your own. Just don’t get in the habit of using it all the time.

A Dog’s Saliva Has Fewer Germs than a Human’s

You probably heard that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than human mouths a million times while growing up — I know I did. The myth generally goes something like this: A dog’s saliva somehow has healing properties and has fewer germs than a human mouth. I remember people sagely claiming this one while a dog was licking a wound on his leg or maybe licking a kid’s face.
Well, I have news for you. It isn’t true.
Now before all you dog lovers throw rocks at my house and flood my mailbox with hate mail, let me explain. In most cases, dogs don’t carry the same diseases that humans do, so in that respect, their saliva is somewhat safer. But dogs have plenty of bacteria and other germs in their mouths that can cause an infection as bad as anything else. In fact, dogs have an enzyme in their mouths that actually breaks down skin tissue. I’ve been bitten enough times to know that the first thing the doctor worries about in a dog bite is infection. Left untreated, a dog bite can cause a serious infection called cellulitis. One untreated bite I suffered caused my finger to swell up twice its normal size, and I needed serious treatment that included antibiotics and painful hydrogen peroxide soaks.
Veterinarians who treat cuts on any dog will tell you to prevent your dog from licking his wounds. In fact, the vet will put an Elizabethan collar (E-collar) on your dog to prevent him from licking his wounds and keep him from getting infected.
You may wonder where the dog saliva myth came from. I do, too. I’m guessing that in the old days before pet owners understood about keeping wounds clean, they watched dogs clean their wounds. The dogs probably did a better job of cleaning their wounds than their human counterparts, who perhaps didn’t clean their wounds, which then became infected. So somebody decided that dogs just naturally did better because of their saliva. When faced with a dirty wound or at least one with no dirt in it, the saliva probably was better than nothing, and the enzyme within the dog’s mouth probably helped get rid of the bad stuff in the wound. But in a modern age of veterinary medicine, leave the licking to face washes and not to trying to heal a wound or skin condition.
by Margaret H.Bonham