I think it’s safe to say that we made it through the muddiest time of year (knock on wood).

Thanks to my army of four dogs and one cat who follows them everywhere, my floors are no stranger to muddy footprints.

Because I also have horses, and the corrals get very sloppy during the melting season, there is also a bit of a barnyard odour coming in with said muddy prints.

And since I’m not organized enough to have a rag at the door so that I can wipe off wet feet before they enter the rest of the house, I have become very well acquainted with my mop.

Which brings me to this week’s topic. No, not mops. Baths. More precisely, giving the dog a bath.

Now, traditionally, dogs hate baths. Which is strange considering that most of them will jump into a freezing Yukon lake or river without batting an eye and have a ball while doing so.

But I digress. When it comes to keeping your canine clean and smelling relatively nice, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, their skin is a lot different then ours so you should never use human shampoos. If you are in a pinch and need to get a filthy dog clean, a gentle dish soap will work (Sunlight being one of them). Just be sure to use small amounts.

Second, dog shampoos, especially good quality ones, don’t have detergent in them so they do not produce the suds that human products do. This means that when you’re shampooing the dog, you should only have a fine lather being produced when soaping him up.

Also, I found that if the dog is really dirty, shampoo him twice. The first round will get the worst of the dirt and the second will actually get him clean. Then use conditioner if your soap isn’t a 2 in 1.

And finally, it is very easy to dry out a dog’s skin here in the Yukon. So it is not a good idea to bathe your dog more then once a month if it can be avoided. The shampoo removes much of their natural coat oils along with the dirt, thus opening the door to dry skin. If the dog gets mucky between baths, just rinse him off with straight water and save the shampoo bottle for when he really needs a good cleaning. Also, make sure all the shampoo is rinsed out. Or the residue will irritate his skin and sometimes cause rashes.

I’m not even going to get into what it entails to bathe a cat. Except to say that if it is necessary, the same rules apply with the exception of making sure that the shampoo is safe for cats, they can’t use the same as the dogs.

Oh, and watch out for the claws.

Until next time, enjoy the beginning of summer.