Dogs who take frequent dips in the family pool may suffer from dry, itchy skin and a dry, dull coat because the chemicals in pool water strip the skin and coat of their natural oils. Chlorinated water may also have a slight bleaching effect on dark coats, and could even turn lighter coats (gasp!) greenish. To avoid these nasty side effects without banning your eager retriever from the pool (as if that would work), do just these simple things.
During pool season, spray your dog’s coat with coat conditioner before he goes into the pool. This will help protect skin and the coat from drying. If you can find one that also contains sunscreen, all the better (because dogs can get skin cancer, too).
After every swim—or at the end of each day, if your dog tends to jump in and out of the pool all day—rinse his coat thoroughly with cool water. Rinse longer than you think is necessary to remove all the chlorine and other pool chemicals. Towel-dry or blow-dry if appropriate. If your dog has a medium or long coat, follow the rinse with another spray of coat conditioner and a swipe-through with a comb. Get all the way down to the skin—mats can hide, and when they dry they’ll get tighter. Missing one for even a day during the summer can result in a knotty problem.
Once each week during swim season, comb out all tangles and bathe him thoroughly with a gentle moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that will rid the coat of chlorine residue and restore moisture to a dry coat. These three simple steps will make a noticeable difference in the effect chlorinated water will have on your dog’s coat. For good measure, an omega-3 fatty-acid supplement can help replenish natural coat oils from the inside out.
After a swim, or even a bath, dry the insides of your dog’s ears as well as you can with a towel or cotton balls. This is important for all dogs, but especially for those with floppy ears because the earflap can prevent your dog’s ears from drying out after a swim. Weekly or even monthly application of an ear wash made for dogs can also help keep ears infection-free. Ask your veterinarian if an ear wash would be appropriate for your sassy swimmer.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/© Paul Erickson