One of the most important lessons I've learned as a dog owner (other than, "Keep the Christmas truffles on the highest possible shelf," "Don't assume they won't knowingly jump off a balcony chasing a squirrel," and, "Leave the tent door unzipped or else!") is that many of the health changes we assume are natural parts of aging... are actually symptoms of something totally treatable.
For example, as I wrote in There is Literally a Magic Fountain of Youth For Dogs. It's called "Modern Medicine":
We thought weight gain and lethargy were normal. They were symptoms. And I will be grateful until the day I die that we figured that out, treated it, and gave her the end-of-life adventures she deserved.
Thank you, modern medicine! Image: The Happy Talent on Facebook
Despite this important and profound lesson, I almost made the same mistake with my mom's 10-year-old golden retriever, Redgie.
Redgie had started smelling... shall we say, "old."
Despite her tremendous physical beauty:
There was a certain, distinct odor that would quickly fill any room she entered.
For literally weeks, I mistook it for "wet dog smell" because she was "getting old."
But eventually I realized...
This doesn't smell like a wet dog...
It smells like a certain ex-boyfriend's towels.
In other words: mold. Or mildew. Or some other kind of stinky microorganism that grows on wet things.
Looking at Redgie, I noticed she looked completely dry... except behind her ears. Behind her ears, I realized, she was basically always wet.
Moldy girl! Image: @TheHappyTalent on Facebook
So I smelled her back. Nothing. I smelled her belly. Nothing. I smelled her face and inside her ears. Nothing.
But in that damp spot behind her ears?
That was where literally 100% of the stinky smell was coming from.
I did some research about what to do about a stinky/moldy/yeasty dog. One piece of advice that definitely was not compatible with our lifestyle was, "Keep the dog dry."
No way! She loves to swim.
Other websites recommended rubbing baking soda or corn starch into the damp coat; using de-stinkifying dog shampoo or deodorizing sprays; and trimming or shaving the coat.
I had a better idea:
I ordered the Livekey Pet Hair Dryer with Grooming Brush ($31.95).
"What -- why?" my mom asked. "I have two hair dryers I never use in the bathroom!"
Because most dogs hate the sound of wind generators. They don't mind the sound of oncoming traffic -- but put them in a room with a Roomba, or playfully point your hair dryer at them, and the dog thinks they've entered a war zone.
A dryer specifically designed for pet use will be quieter, and would ideally be a comfortable temperature for a dog. (I definitely thought the Livekey felt a bit warm when I tested it on my hand and wished there were a cooler setting, but neither of the dogs seem to mind.)
Every time we come back inside from swimming, I use the Livekey for a few minutes behind each ear (because that's where she was stinky) and down the front of her neck (because she loves that).
Within three days, the stench was gone.
Or, as my mom put it, "I can finally sleep through the night without waking up gagging."
It was a super cheap, super simple fix to a super solvable problem.
Which is why I thought it was important to write this post.
1. Too often, we mistake symptoms and solvable problems as "natural parts" of getting old. Don't get complacent, and stay skeptical, and you could give your dog a longer, happier life.
2. Dogs can get bacteria, mold, yeast, and mildew on their skin, and one way to get rid of the smell without keeping them out of the water is by drying them thoroughly.
Unimportantly, the dryer/grooming brush also make them look prettier and more handsome, but that's not a huge concern for me, since I know they're going to be getting back in the water in a few hours
Then again in another few hours
So what even would be the point in trying to impress anyone?
Finally, on the topic of microbiomes, one of my posts that consistently gets a lot of engagement is I Had Shoulder Surgery, and It COMPLETELY Changed the Way I Smell -- pass it along to anyone you know with labrum or rotator cuff issues or upcoming surgeries scheduled. They will thank you.
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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