Why regular baths are important for pet health

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published July 6, 2016

 Premier Pet Supply employee Kim Thomas gives her own dog, Midas, a bath in one of the do-it-yourself dog wash rooms at the Rochester Hills store.

Premier Pet Supply employee Kim Thomas gives her own dog, Midas, a bath in one of the do-it-yourself dog wash rooms at the Rochester Hills store.

Photo by Deb Jacques

METRO DETROIT — It’s summertime, and sometimes it seems that when the sun is out, kids measure playtime fun in stains — rolling in the grass, digging in the dirt, spilling ice cream just about everywhere.

Naturally, we make sure the little ones wash off that layer of grime every night. But why don’t we do the same for their faithful four-legged sidekicks?

Giving the old dog a bath might not be the tidiest task on our to-do list, but it’s something that needs to be done regularly, according to Chase Burdick, of Dapper Dog Wash in St. Clair Shores.

“It depends on the dog. Little dogs can probably come in once a month, but the bigger dogs — well, we have some that bring their big dog in every two weeks or more,” she said. “They have more oils on their skin and more hair.”

Dapper Dog Wash offers full-service grooming options for dogs, but even when Fido isn’t in need of a haircut or a mani-pedi, the salon offers dog washing services. People can drop off their pup and come back in an hour or two for a clean canine.

“We’re specially trained to do it the right way; to get them completely clean and completely dry. You want to focus on getting anything you can to come out of that coat,” Burdick said. “We make them smell better, but if the coat is really dirty their skin can get irritated.”

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website, a buildup of grime on your dog can result in some uncomfortable skin problems, like inflammation and rashes, dry or flaky skin, scabs, and other problems caused by a buildup of bacteria or parasites. Then, of course, there’s that stinky dog odor that can get worse as time between baths grows.

Dr. Corey Gut, of DePorre Veterinary Hospital in Bloomfield Hills, said not all dogs need to be bathed very often. But for those that do, the consequences of ignoring the tub can be literally sickening.

“Dogs live in the environment, and they live in the moment. They spend a lot of time outdoors getting into things, kind of like toddlers. They’re constantly walking through contaminated areas, contaminated soil and fecal materials. Keeping the coat and paws clean of debris can prevent things like germs and parasites.”

Intestinal parasites can be passed to dogs by contaminated soil or direct contact with droppings, and dermatitis can result from a dirty, matted coat that’s been sitting and pulling at the skin too long.

What’s worse is that some of those infections can get passed to humans, Gut warned.

But giving the dog a bath isn’t always as quick and simple as when humans hop into the shower. In fact, after many of us wash the dog, it seems we need to wash the rest of the house as a result.

That was one of the biggest complaints customers had for Mike Palmer, owner of Premier Pet Supply. Those gripes gave Palmer the idea to add do-it-yourself dog washes at his new stores in Rochester Hills and Novi, along with the existing location in Beverly Hills, which is in the midst of a major expansion.

“More than anything, the nice thing is that people can just leave the mess with us,” Palmer said. “That alone, people have responded really well to the dog wash rooms. In Rochester, we had almost 100 dog washes in the first month.”

Palmer and his team spent a lot of time designing the dog washing rooms, which he said offer pet and person a bit of privacy during a bath. That reduces anxiety for the dog and, well, pretty much everyone else within earshot. Baths can double as bonding between dogs and their owners when you take stress out of the situation.

“The tubs are custom made for pets, with steps to help them get in and out. And the height — you’re standing upright to wash them, not hunched over,” he said.

And instead of collecting a huge mass of bath supplies for their own homes, customers can use Premier’s stash of combs, towels, air dryers, and all-natural shampoos and conditioners.

And natural is important, especially when dog food recalls are a fairly regular occurrence. When Palmer read about the popularity of self-serve dog wash stations that were popping up on the east coast, he knew his version would have to be as holistic as possible.

“A little over 10 years (ago), we noticed there was a real interest in healthier alternatives in pet care. Not just in supplements but for food, treats, everything,” Palmer said. “People really started to read labels and ask what’s going into their pet’s food and treats.”

Dapper Dog Wash is located at 28401 Harper Ave. in St. Clair Shores. Call (586) 779-9010 or visit www.dapperdogwash.com.

Premier Pet Supply stores are located at 31215 Southfield Road in Beverly Hills, 63 W. Auburn Road in Rochester Hills and 47810 Grand River Ave. in Novi. For more information, visit www.premierpetsupply.com.