DIY Dog Wash – What You Need to Know

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I love DIY dog wash’s. It’s a great idea. Some people prefer to wash their dogs themselves but would like the mess elsewhere, some people like to give them a quick rinse after the beach and some people find it cheaper than going to the groomers. And I’m OK with that! I’m all for anything that makes looking after your dog easier.

But, great things do come with a price. And unfortunately it can be a costly, painful price.

The Story
A family friend of mine, we’ll call him Joe, took his Blue Heeler, Max, into his local DIY Dog Wash. A few days later, poor old Max was diagnosed with Ringworm and a bad case of it.
Immediately I exclaimed before he could explain anything else, “You know you’re supposed to disinfect the bath before and after you wash your dog!?”. “Yes I know. I always disinfect the bath… I just can’t understand how he got it. It’s cost me a fortune so far and now I have to wash him every 3 days with a special shampoo and give tablets until it goes away.”. I was stumped! How did this happen if everything was disinfected?

Firstly, for those who don’t know much about Ringworm.

What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection that can be transferred between people and dogs. It is not a worm as it’s name suggests.

Being highly contagious, poor old Max could have gotten Ringworm from just about anywhere. An infected towel, brush, pet or person. Just to name a few. It’s actually lucky that Joe caught onto it so quickly. With his dog being furry and all, it can be hard to see it until it’s fairly bad. Some typical signs of ringworm are: Red Lesions and hairless patches (Alopecia) and crusting, thickening or reddening of the skin.

Oh my, how can we ever prevent this horrible thing! Well, all we can do is try. Ringworm fungi live in warm, damp environments like soil. The fungi, (or in this case, perhaps a damp corner in the wash room) attaches to hair or skin cells which we then shed anywhere and everywhere. This is what makes a ringworm infection so contagious.

Some preventative measures can be put in place including, regular cleaning & disinfecting of your house. This includes, the inside of your house by vacuuming, mopping and cleaning surfaces as well as cleaning out kennels, beds and any blankets/pillows, washing toys and of course keeping your pet clean.

How did this happen?
Back to our story, if Joe did disinfect the bath, how was Max still able to catch a ringworm infection? Well, I do have a theory but firstly I would like to point out that Max could have contracted ringworm from just about anywhere.

Assuming the bath was disinfected before use, there are still puddles of water from other dogs jumping in and out of the bath. Based on the fact they like damp environments, it’s possible the or wet /damp ground was infected. That’s theory #1. Next we have the potential of old, expired disinfectant meaning that even though George disinfected after washing his Poodle Chi-Chi, the disinfectant simply did not work. Let’s get real for a moment, if you have 1min left on your timer and your dogs ears are still just a tiny bit wet, do you a) take your dog out to disinfect the bath or b) get their ears as dry as possible without having to insert any more coins? That’s theory #2.
Basically, it all comes down to cleanliness, so theory #3 is the owner or attendant is not cleaning the bathing area properly. Some provide a towel you can use to dry your dog, a nice concept, though ideally, you would need a fresh towel for each dog in case that towel has any unwanted guests on it.

How to be safe at a DIY dog wash.
While it’s impossible to eliminate all the risk without you and your pup entering in a hazmat suit, there are of course a few things to consider.

  1. Spray the disinfectant everywhere!
    Most dog washes are completely water friendly so you can spray the water all over the place without worry. That being said, you should only spray the disinfectant on areas you or your dog will come in contact with. Ie.: The bath floor, edges and door and of course the ground you’ll walk before entering and exiting the bath. That will make sure anything you touch is free of diseases.
  2. Bring your own towel or chamois.
    I’ll admit it, I’ve used the community towel before as well and it truly is a nice idea especially if you’ve come from the beach and don’t have a towel not filled with sand but again, we don’t know what’s on it. Towelling off before trying to use the turbo drier will make drying much easier for long coated breeds.
  3. Wash Your Hands
    Since you’ll be touching more things than your dog will be, it’s important to also disinfect your hands before and after washing your dog. If your skin is sensitive, wash them again in your preferred wash and moisturise if needed.


In the End
These things happen, all we can do is try our best to prevent them. So give it a go! It May save you a bit of money, it may make a more comfortable car ride home or it might just be a bit of fun for the kids. Just remember the DIY dog wash is just that, DIY. It won’t check your dog’s nails, clean ears, check anal glands or tie on a cute bow, you have to do those things. Otherwise, bring McScrufflegins to your groomer or vet. That’s what they’re there for 🙂

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