To naturally give your dog a bath can be stressful if he or she does not like having mud and stinky stuff removed. But it’s important to do this if dogs get mucky, as river water can harbour bacteria and sea water dries off as salt. Rock salt can cause burns, so paws need to be hosed or washed, after walking in snow.
In the garden, clear snow with a shovel or use EcoGrit (cereal waste – they suggest also straw or sand). Keeping claws trimmed and using paving (over stones or travel) helps to stop rock salt getting stuck in paws.
Holidaying with Dogs suggests that dogs prefer being washed with lukewarm water (around 37 degrees Celsius for medium/large animals: a little lower for older/smaller pets, who are less tolerant to heat). Cold water is uncomfortable and can cause hypothermia. If your hose spouts cold water, you may need to come outside with a bowl of lukewarm water.
These dog shampoos are natural, but only use unscented versions for sensitive/allergic dogs (avoid rosemary oil for epileptic dogs). And never use essential oils on cats. Avoid shea butter for dogs with latex allergies. Keep bars on a slatted soap dish.
Pointy Faces Organic Dog Shampoo Bar is ideal for sensitive skin as it has no scent (avoid use on the head to avoid contact with eyes and ears, and they recommend gently wiping in the direction of fur with a clean damp flannel). These items were produced in response to a rescued greyhound/whippet cross, was found as a stray and covered in kennel sores with a bald raw tail that had to be partially amputated within days.
But with love and care, comfy bedding, gentle grooming and supplements, she recovered in no time. Also in lavender versions that has neem to help itchy sore skin and deters ticks/fleas. This company also sells collars, see this book to keep your dog safe, with info on collar safety. Quick Release collars for Martingale dogs.
Zero Waste Path Dog Shampoo Bar is handmade in Cambridgeshire by a couple of Italian scientists. It features organic coconut oil, castor oil and shea butter, plus aloe vera and oils of lavender and lemongrass. It also contains neem that is anti-itch. Made with clean energy and sold in a recycled cardboard box with almond glue. Just rub directly on the coat to create a soapy water beforehand to wash, leave on the coat for a few minutes, then rinse with clean water. Do not use on puppies or pregnant dogs or cats. Store in a cool place and dry on a dish after use.
- Sintra Naturals Pet Shampoo Bar was developed over months with neem oil to repel ticks and fleas. The Pet Wonder Balm is for dry or crusty noses, and cracked paw pads.
- Trevarno Dog Shampoo Bar (olive & coconut oil, cocoa & shea butter, oils of rosemary, sweet orange, lavender – and bran to lift dirt).
- Jungle Paws dog shampoo bar (castor & lavender oil).
- K9 Organics (sunflower, coconut, lavender oil), in plant-based bottles
- Wild For Dogs (aloe vera, argan oil, lavender)
Natural Dog Balms
- Paw Protect (for sensitive skin & minor wounds, developed to help bacterial infections. This company also makes paw protection balm & ear sanitiser (check ears after walks in long grass, to check for embedded seeds).
- Ollie & Co Paw Balm (with natural oils for chapped paw pads). Also makes Nose & Paw Balm (blackcurrant, cranberry, raspberry & shea butter – not for dogs with latex allergies)
- Pointy Faces Organic Neem Paw & Sore Balm is made with organic neem oil, coconut oil, organic shea butter and organic sweet almond oil. Designed to nourish dry, rough and tiered paws and dry skin, apply sparingly and distract your dog from licking their paws, while the balm absorbs. Repeat once or twice weekly, until cracked pads improve, then use as required. Good for dry patches on ears and elbows. They also sell other items but do check the safety details, as some coat supplements must not be used for certain dogs with medical conditions, pregnancy, allergies etc.
- Dogs Adored Organic Paw Butter is made by a small family company in small batches. It has simple ingredients of organic shea butter and organic olive oil, along with vitamin E oil and lavender oil (avoid for allergies and never use essential oils on cats). Just a tiny amount can be rubbed into paws, lick-safe. Made in Essex and sold in a metal storage tin. The full range can be found at Dogs Adored.
Natural Dog Grooming
This dog grooming mitt was chosen by the store after a lot of research. Some dog brushes are too harsh and can even hurt. Most vets sell Groom Zooms which are good (also for horses and cats), and this also uses gentle rubber nodule mitts to be gentler on bonier breeds, yet still effective at removing loose hair and dandruff, and good for giving a nice massage on moulting coats. Includes soft rubber tips, and a hook and loop fastener for a secure fit. Suitable for short, smooth and fluffy coats, and shiny top hair without base coat. Nails are best clipped at the vet, as it’s rare for amateurs to be able to do this well, without causing harm or bleeding.