Proper Care and Grooming Tips for the Dog that loves to Swim (at the beach or pool)

by Xiomara Iraheta

Do you have a water loving dog? Perhaps you’ve wondered about the effects that sun, salt or chlorine water may have on your dog’s skin, coat and ears. But more likely you’ve experienced the ill-effects first hand.

You’ve probably mused about the power of your dog’s coat against the burning sun, is it enough protection? I’m covered with sun block but what about his ears and nose? Why is my dog so itchy after a dip at the pool or ocean? Why does my dog turn green after a swim in the pool? And why do my dog’s ears get infected so often? You are not alone in thinking about these problems. And you’ll be happy to note that it’s not all bad. Salt can actually be good for your dog’s skin, if properly washed off afterward.

Luckily there are simple grooming tips for your beach bum dog.

Sun Damage

  • Whether he’s laying poolside or making sand castles your dog needs to be protected from the sun with sunscreen, especially those breeds with no undercoat, like Malteses and Yorkies.
  • Apply an all natural sunblock like flea the scene that will soothe your dog’s skin and protect him from the sun.
  • Don’t forget the nose, ears and belly when applying sunscreen.
  • A cleaner coat works best to protect against the blazing sun.

Why the unbearable itch and how to help?

  • Always remember to rinse your dog with fresh water after every swim.
  • The combination of the sand and salt can also add to your dog’s itchy discomfort so shampoo working your fingers to the root of the hair.
  • The best shampoo to use on a sandy dog is Bubbles n Beads . It contains little micobeads that actually help condition your dog’s coat and dislodge sticky sand which can be otherwise difficult to remove.
  • If you find that after your visit to the beach your dog’s paw pads were a little roughed up from the hot sand and salty water then you may want to consider applying a healing balm like bowWOW Butter Balm to treat those cracked paws or irritated nose. Can also be useful in removing tar.

Green Dog?

  • So you may not have a neon green dog but that white coat is taking a green hue, interestingly the chemical changing the color is copper and not the chlorine.
  • Make sure the ph and chemical levels of your pool are in order.
  • Try an all natural brightening shampoo, Sparkle and Shine is made with yogurt and honey to restore the luster in your dog’s coat without harming or over drying the skin.

Ear ye Ear ye

  • When moisture is trapped in the ear canal it can lead to infection so dog’s who swim have a higher chance than other dogs to get nasty ear infections.
  • After your dog gets out of the pool (or lake) be sure to towel dry your dog’s ears.
  • Clean the ears gently, to remove any discharge in the canal. Clip the hair around the opening of the ear canal to allow air to circulate. Try all natural Ear Wipes to make the job easier.
  • Regularly use a product that dries out the canal. This helps prevent a moist environment which, as we’ve already seen, allows bacteria and fungi to multiply.
  • Chronic ear infections can really rack up the vet bills. In order to keep those infections at bay, try an all natural, over the counter solution like Ear Aid – a two step process that both cleans and deodorizes, heals and protects your dog’s ears. If it works on your dog, you’ll save fortunes!

Whether you simply rinse your dog after a swim or wash with shampoo depend on the type of coat your dog has and how often they swim. Lorna Paxton, owner of happytails Canine Spa Line, a company that manufactures grooming and wellness products for dogs, notes on personal account with her dogs and advises that “if your dog visits the beach every day then a good daily rinse with fresh water is fine to rid your dog of salty minerals and sand residue,” she also suggests a weekly bath with shampoo and conditioner to keep the skin clean and well moisturized.

As for dogs who visit the beach only now and then a “good lathered wash with shampoo and conditioner will help wash off the sand and salt as long as you remember to work your fingers to the root of the fur.” “You definitely don’t want to bring a sandbox back into your home after the beach,” jokes Paxton.

“The salt can actually be beneficial to a dog’s skin, Paxton adds. “Salt is very healing and can help with many common skin afflictions. But if you don’t wash off the salt, you’re going to have a very itchy dog!”

A couple of other things to keep in mind on your next beach or pool outing:

  • Pack large towels for lounging on the hot sand and the drive home
  • A large sun umbrella to give your pooch a shade option
  • Pack plenty of fresh water to offer your dog and prevent them from drinking pool or salty water
  • Make sure they have a collar with ID tag, preferably a worn-out collar
  • Look out for the following in the sand: oily or tar-like sand, broken glass, sharp or edgy rocks, pieces of seashells that may wound your pup’s paws
  • Be sure to bring poop bags!
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