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Ask AKC

with Lisa Peterson
February 2006

All dog owners need expert advice from time to time to meet the challenges of caring for their canines. The American Kennel Club aims to provide you and your purebred dog with the help you asked for.

Dear Lisa:  I have a new Bulldog I rescued from a shelter about two months ago. He is around five years old. I'd like to give him a bath because he is starting to develop a doggie odor. Rather than take him to the groomers, can you give me advice on the best way to clean him?  – Bath Time for Bully in Buffalo

Dear Bully: Bulldogs, like all breeds, benefit from regular grooming. The more you groom the less often they will need a bath. Even though Bulldogs possess a short coat, the reality of keeping the wrinkles clean and the logistics of handling a muscular, low-to-the-ground breed will be your biggest challenge.

There are two things you can invest in making it safer for your dog when it comes to grooming; a grooming table and rubber mat for your bathtub. 

Weekly Grooming
Placing a dog on a table will make it easier for you to inspect wrinkles, brush without fatigue and clean under his belly. Make sure the table is secure and covered with a towel before gently lifting and placing him squarely in the center. If your table doesn't have a grooming arm with noose, have a family member stand in front of him holding his collar so he won't be tempted to jump off the table. Start with a curry comb or mitt – a tool covered with little rubber nubs – and rub his coat in a circular motion to remove dead skin, loose hair, dried-on slobber and dirt.

Follow this with a clean soft bristle brush, using short flicks of the wrist brush the coat from head to tail. Finish up with some baby wipes, cleaning between the wrinkles and drying them well. For those tough places between deep wrinkles that always seem to get a tad stinky try rubbing occasionally with a thin layer of Bag Balm, Vaseline or Horseman's Dream to repel moisture. Moisture promotes that doggy odor you are trying to dispel.    

Bath Time
Before you plunge your bully into the bubbles, place cotton balls in his ears to keep out moisture. Don't forget the rubber mat in the tub to prevent him from slipping.

Using a small amount of shampoo in your hand, wash his body, and rinse twice to remove all doggie shampoo. Use a small sponge or washcloth to hand-wash his head. Avoid getting water in the eyes. Then wrap him in towels, lift him out of the tub and place him on the floor so he can shake off excess water. Hand dry him with more fresh towels and use cotton balls to dry out those little pockets of skin around the tail and head that may not dry completely on their own. Now you and your sweet smelling dog are ready for some quality "couch potato" time. 

Dear Lisa:  I am a new dog owner.  We have a male Maltese, about one-year-old, and we've had him about 10 months now.  We were at a great dinner the other night, and we brought home a lot of leftovers, including a T-Bone steak.  For the first time, we let him have the T-Bone (bits of meat and fat still on it!)  He was in heaven!  He chewed and nibbled on this for hours. Then, we noticed that a small piece broke off, so we took the bone away (it wasn't easy, let me tell you!)  My husband and I got into a discussion about the safety of beef bones.  Is there a danger if small pieces of bone are swallowed?  – Down to the Bone in Detroit

Dear Down: There are two schools of thought about whether or not dogs should be allowed to eat bones. One school says they always ate them in the wild and that there is no harm in eating them, provided they are raw. Another school says you should never give dogs any bones cooked, raw or otherwise as they cause more potential harm than good.

Raw Meaty Bones
Many people who feed their dogs a raw diet, sometimes called BARF (Bones and Raw Food) claim bones with meat and some fat left on them are safe for dogs because they are easily digestible and will not splinter like cooked bones. Some of the popular types of bones fed on the raw diet are beef tails or necks from poultry and are usually available from your local butcher. One disadvantage about raw bones is that they can carry bacteria like salmonella or e-coli and can spoil in a few days if not eaten. 

Avoid any bones that are already cut into smaller pieces as they pose a more immediate choking hazard. Be aware that any bone may cause a digestive upset in a dog.

Cooked Bones
Cooked, brittle bones are more likely to splinter which may cause fractured teeth and possible perforation of the intestine or throat either on the way down or on the way back up if the dog vomits. Veterinarians also report dogs eating bones run the risk of needing surgery to remove obstructions in the intestines.      

Any bone should only be given under supervision so you can monitor if the bone is breaking into dangerously small pieces. If this happens you can ask the dog for the rest of the bone (because you've already taught him the "give" command - right?). Finding an alternative to a potentially hazardous situation is always in you and your dog's best interest rather than leaving it to chance. 

Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at lxp@akc.org and she may select it to be answered here in Ask AKC.

© 2006 The American Kennel Club, Inc.