How Do You Take Care of a Dog's Skin and Coat

Keeping A Shiny Mane Despite the Mud and Rain

Maui is a furry dog. He has hair that's at least 2 inches long and when you have a dog with long fur, expect to see it everywhere. Whenever I sweep the office floor, I always end up gathering a small clump of fur. The garden drain paths are sometimes a bit clogged with loose hair, especially after heavy rainfall, even more so when Maui decides to play in the grass during rain. I've never seen a dog who likes rain like Maui does, and when he's done, I have to go out and rinse all the mud off his legs lest I mop the floors. 

After that, the wet dog smell comes, which thankfully we minimized by constantly washing Maui's bed sheets and combing his hair. His tick problem is gone now so I don't use the special tick shampoo anymore. We also stopped because at one point, I noticed some dry patches of skin on Maui's back. I couldn't see it because of his thick fur, but because he had mostly white fur on his back, it revealed some inflamed skin, which then resolved into flaky skin after some time. I also noticed some matted fur around his tail which reminded me of dreadlocks. My daughter is in charge of combing Maui, but it looks like we missed his tail. Combing aside, I need to see what's up with his skin. 

The first suspect is always parasites. Ticks, fleas, and any other critter. My cats used to have this quickly crawling insect on their skin, which was a springtail and they are harmless. I can't see any parasites with my naked eye, so it's time to bust out my favorite childhood toy, the beginner's microscope. With up to 1000x magnification, this bad boy lets me see the world of larger eukaryotes. I took samples of the flaky skin in different parts of his skin, placed them on a slide, added a drop of water, then pressed it with another slide. 

Peering into the world of the small, there were indeed creatures, but I know some of them. One such was another tiny springtail. I also saw a black mite, but this little guy is a moss mite and they likely thrive on my cold compost heap. I have not seen any critter that I couldn't identify and I've been peering for a while now. No fleas, nor scabies-like mites. Just dead skin cells, some fur, and what looks like scabs, so skin conditions might be the thing, including food allergies, but I don't think that's the problem because Maui hasn't consumed anything new recently, to my knowledge. 

Matted fur, unknown skin condition, no sign of parasites. I think it's time I looked deeper into Maui's fur and skin health. I fear it might have been caused by the tick and flea shampoo I used on him during the sudden tick outbreak. I've been using it for the past few weeks to kill the baby ticks and I hope it didn't irritate his skin. I'm sure I followed the instructions well, but Maui could have sensitive skin, leading to skin irritation. I could ask my vet neighbor for advice, but when he comes back from his off-season beach vacation. 

The first thing to do is to find a new shampoo. One thing about looking through a bunch of shock collars on the internet is that the search engine spiders or whatever cookie detecting algorithm there is, shows me ads of things I could be interested in, some of them eerily accurate as if they were reading my mind. They recommended shampoo for curly-haired dogs called doodles, which I assume are hybrids of poodles. I read the reviews, and I must say, these people love doodles. I imagine if this shampoo works for dogs with really curly hair, and are so "posh" that they likely have sensitive skin so I think I can give this a shot. A big bonus is that my wife loves the smell of lavender and is a fan of chamomile. 

Three days later, the shampoo arrived. It's a lot for its price, and there's a nice picture of a Mini Goldendoodle on the picture. Maui is also due a bath so it's time to use it. So it's supposed to keep his fur from matting and moisturize his skin. My wife commented that it smelled so good she was almost willing to use it on herself. I don't see why not actually, since human shampoo is loaded will all kinds of chemicals. Well, mine does at least since I use anti-dandruff shampoo every now and then. 

After a furious and thorough soaping, I quickly rinsed Maui. I read that warm water is ideal and let him dry himself first before toweling him dry. I would have used a hair dryer, but I hesitated as it could cause dry skin. The shampoo rinsed off pretty well, and soon after he was dry, Maui's fur practically glowed. Well, the white parts were way shinier at least, and the brown and mottled colors seem more vibrant. I don't know if getting shiny coats is indeed this shampoo's effect, but it works. Or maybe Maui just had a good layer of dirt on his coat and this is how he normally looks when clean. If this shampoo means Maui will have healthy skin and a healthy coat, then I'm buying more for the long term.

Two days later. I checked on Maui's skin and to my relief, the dry flaky spots are lessening. I guess the anti-tick shampoo was the problem. Since Maui doesn't have any more ticks, at least as far as I could see, I can stop the tick shampoo. I just hope none of the adult and engorged ticks managed to hide in some hole somewhere in the garden. I know that ticks like these can last for months without another feeding, and can lay eggs by the hundreds. I would love to bomb the garden walls with some plant-safe insecticides to kill them, but that's for later. For now, my furry friend will undergo regular bathing and coat care to make sure his skin recovers well, and his fur is always at its best quality.

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