Dear <<First Name>>
I got an email from a client a couple of weeks ago asking me what scent I used on her dogs and did I sell it? This made me smile.
Sit down, grab a cuppa, this may take a while.
Why do dogs smell? ... There are a number of things that will make your furry friend a bit whiffy.
With so many potential causes, there will obviously have to be more than one method of eliminating the smell. Once you've dealt with the majority of these issues then the dog shouldn't smell of anything and that's the time to put scent on (and have it last). Scent shouldn't be used to mask a dirty dog.
- Porous coat
- Poor Diet
- Yeast or fungal infections on the skin and in the ears
- Anal gland issues (could be linked to diet)
- Bad teeth
- External factors (has rolled in fox poo - at least, one hopes its fox poo) 🤢🤮
Imagine the hair shaft is covered in overlapping scales (cuticles). Like a snake skin, these should be smooth and closely overlapping. This is hair that will easily shed water and easily reflect light (it will shine). To be like this it has to be nourished as it grows. No amount of lotions and potions will "heal" hair that has been made out of substandard nutrition. If the cuticles are rough, broken, sticking out or up, the delicate structure of the hairshaft is compromised and the coat is said to be porous. This is a coat that will hang onto water like a sponge and take forever to dry. It won't be shiny and it won't be silky to the touch.
How to feed your dog is way outside of the scope of this article, I advise you to consult nutritional experts (NOT YOUR VET) and to do your research. You can start with the search term "BARF" which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. IMHO, the best place to do your research is on the All About Dogfood website.
Yeast or Fungal Infections
The skin of your dog is a breeding ground for lots of bacteria and yeast. Just like ours - yes, this sounds gross but most of these organisms live symbiotically with the host. Sometimes they get out of hand and a bunch of rebel yeasts or bacteria multiply rapidly and outnumber the good guys. The bad ones smell and you need to get shot of those without killing the others.
The dog has these structures and we don't. They secrete a FOUL smelling substance - normally coating the dog's poo as he goes. If, however, the poop isn't hard enough these glands don't get expressed as the dog poops which can lead to all sorts of issues. Barf fed dogs have much firmer poops which keep those glands expressed regularly so they are much less likely to "leak". The smell is somewhat metallic and definitely unforgettable.
Rotting, decaying teeth are going to cause incredible halitosis. If the dog licks itself that smell lingers on the fur and you'll get that smell permeating all over your house.
The External Factors
If your dog rolls in fox poo you'll know all about it. Keep a squirty bottle of Tomato Ketchup in the car to rub over the affected areas (and gloves). Another good one is Dead Fish, I just "love" that habit that some fishermen have of leaving their catch on the riverbank. 3-day old rotting fish is just irresistible pure heaven for some dogs! There is a certain kind of mud in Virginia Waters and Swinley Forest that is inky black and pretty stinky. That needs washing off as soon as you get home. I can highly recommend the Hozelock Portashower which you fill with VERY hot water before you leave for your walk so it will still be pleasantly warm/hot at the end of your walk so you can shower off the worst of it before you put your dog in the car. You can then wrap your dog in a towelling coat to stay warm on the way home.
What to do about it
I can't speak for other groomers, this is the Centre Stage bathing routine. If this is kept up regularly and the dog is deep cleaned every 6 weeks or less, you are feeding a high-quality diet and dealing with any external issues as they arise, your dog should remain pretty sweet smelling until its next appointment. Some may call it overkill, I call it desperately thorough.
At this stage, even a porous coat is clean. The skin has been cleaned down to a follicular level. At least 30 minutes of my life will be gone, if not 45, but the first part of the process has been dealt with.
- If they're absolutely foul I start with a rinse to get the mud off.
- Then we move to a recirculating shampoo bath. I use Wildwash Organic shampoos (I sell refills here too for £10). This gently but thoroughly gets the coat debris free. Because it's a recirculating system I can thoroughly bathe and rebathe every inch of the dog. That means going in between every toe and round every pad. The nails are scrubbed at this point too. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes depending on the dog's coat.
- A regular shower rinse follows until the water runs clear
- Then I use the Oxygen Bubble Generator pump to do some more recirculating. The first rinse is a conditioner - typically a DezynaDog one. This is massaged deep into the coat and skin with the benefit of the oxygen nanobubbles which take the product deeper into the hair and follicles than just applying it. This is by far the most laborious part of the routine and takes between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the dog's coat and this length of contact is vital for the product to work properly. You cannot simply slap it on and rinse it straight off and expect the same result.
- Then I'll do a 2-minute plain water rinse through the OBG machine to rinse off that conditioner and clean out the machine.
- This is followed by a final OBG rinse which includes light leave-in conditioner which seals each hairshaft leaving it silky, smooth and less likely to tangle.
It is only after all this has been done that I can start drying the dog. At least an hour has elapsed at this point, so its not the quickest process in the world. It may, however, be the reason why dogs leaving Centre Stage retain their sweet smell for such a long time.
- Next I wrap the dog in warm damp chamois towels infused with whichever essential oils I feel will work best for that dog. This started off as just Lavender and that's where the term "Lavender Wrap" came from.
- Whilst the dog is wrapped in the towels I'll do an Ultrasound tooth cleaning treatment. Ultrasound kills the bacteria and as you learned above, that can cause some seriously whiffy breath. If the dog is comfortable with the process, I'll pick off any loose tartar then do another quick wizz round with the ultrasound equipment.
- Ears come last - I love the "Erase Your Face" towels that I found in Costco for this purpose because they remove the necessity for any harsh chemicals to be used.