We all love our four-legged friends, but come to the rain and mud of autumn and winter and even the most loved of dogs is kindly asked to not cuddle up with us when adorned with mud. We asked our Ladies Working Dog Group members for their top tips for dealing with mud covered gundogs.
As they joyously bound through puddles and wallow in mud, we can't help but squirm over the thought of how our cars and homes are going to cope...Having everything ready for your soggy companion's return will make all the difference.
Washing Your Mud Covered Gundog Off
Dogs hate the feeling of mud after it has dried in their paws, in their nooks and crannies, or deep within their hair. It also leaves our homes coated as your dog sprinkles dirt-dust wherever they go.
It's always a good idea to wash the mud off your dog before they get into their car or house for their comfort and your sanity. Coldwater can be used, but rinsing and bathing is much easier when the water is warm, plus your pet will thank you for giving them a warm rinse rather than an ice-cold spray with a hose.
You can install a hot water tap outside. This will make it easier for you and the dogs. We had ours installed last year for our mucky mud-loving spaniels, and it makes washing them down far more comfortable both for me and the dogs.
This idea was seconded by member Lucinda Sewell who had one installed too, Lucinda gives her dogs a complete shampoo outdoors after a day of mud-magnetising antics, followed by a thorough rub down with nice fresh and warm towels to dry them off preventing chills, but also to get rid of any potentially irritating remnants of shampoo or dirt. She mentioned, “my dogs are lifelong friends, so why treat them any different to how I would my children or us adults?”
If the idea of installing a hot water tap outdoors doesn’t quite sit with you or isn’t achievable where you live, there's also the option of a portable hot water shower, such as the Mud Daddy® 5 Litre Portable Washing Device at £45.00. The Mud Daddy stays warm for up to two and half hours. Fill it up with water before you leave, put it in your car's boot, and it will be warm when you are ready to use it.
LWDG member, Kate Kidner has a great tip too, “I have a trusty old portable pressure washer from Nomad, though I am unsure they make them anymore, the process is still the same and can be used for most portable washing systems. I fill it with hot water in the morning, and the water is still warm when I come to wash my dogs off. I then rub them down with a nice clean towel and wrap them up in one of their rugs. When we arrive home, the dogs are all clean, dry and happy.”
Another LWDG member, Demelza Barker added “I wrap a drying coat around my Mud Daddy (or other portable warm water showers) to insulate it, helping the water stay warm for so much longer, '' this is a great way to warm up your drying coat or dog rug, I think we can all testify to the comforts and happiness a warm, fresh pair of pyjamas brings.
If you are out and about, without access to warm water, then at the very least make sure to wash their paws off and the underneath of their bellies before you begin drying. Always keep a full water bottle in the boot of the car in the event of you being caught short. LWDG member, Fiona Macleod uses a very clever hack for this, “ we get our water-loving Spaniels into the pond at the end of a day’s shooting using tennis balls for bribery, then our Ruff ‘n Tumble coats are always used on the way home, making for two warm, toasty and completely shattered Spaniels.”
Towels At The Ready!
Wet dogs like to shake, and from personal experience, a soggy spaniel shaking off droplets of mud, sending them flying onto the cream interior of your Freelander is enough to make you want to cry. If you have absorbent towels on hand, you'll be grateful.
A good drying robe or an ordinary, old bath towel from home can both be used to dry your dog effectively. Keeping a small kit bag in the back of your car containing all of the supplies needed to quickly and efficiently clean and dry your dog off is incredibly handy at all times of the year as they can be used after a beach day too.
If you're travelling in a car, make sure to wring out towels so that the muddy water does not spread throughout your vehicle's interior. Make sure you have a waterproof dry bag or similar to put the wet towels in and bring them into your house so they may be washed.
Dog drying coats come in many shapes, sizes, colours and even patterns, you’re almost spoilt for choice. From full-body styles that cover the major organs and muscles, to blanket style coats that simply help you dry your muddy dog off. When asked what drying coats the LWDG ladies recommended, lots of brands were mentioned though the drying coat brands which received the most recommendations and positive reviews from happy customers included Ruff ‘n Tumble, Equafleece, Lansdown, Siccaro and Hotterdog.
Because many breeds love to swim, having multiple coats allows you to dry one while your other pets are swimming. Drying coats may perform various tasks in addition to making your pets appear adorable as a button, therefore you might want to have more than one. Many members use a drying coat for the trip home in the car or after getting out of the shower to keep them warm and comfortable while they dried off.
Once your dog is clean, it's always a good idea to give them a complete grooming to check there aren't any twigs, thorns, or irritating burrs caught in their coat. It's also an opportunity for you to make sure they don't have any minor injuries that you may not have noticed while they were covered with mud.
If you know your dog enjoys swimming, it's also a great time to check their ears for any ear infections that can be caused by water trapped inside the ear canal. Look out for any signs of redness, irritation, or an unpleasant smell inside the ear.
If your dog is healthy and happy, there's unlikely to be anything seriously wrong with him - but if you notice anything unusual once he is clean, or you have any concerns at all about his health always seek advice from your vet immediately.
We have a fantastic masterclass on grooming the working dog by Featured Expert Julie Palmer
Avoiding the mud
Another option, for those who prefer to keep mud as far away as possible, is a waterproof dog rug. This is not to be confused with a drying coat. Brands like Weatherbeeta have developed a range of high-quality, breathable and waterproof dog coats which are ideal for donning pre-walk or mud exposure. These are also a great option for more sensitive breeds like whippets, lurchers or greyhounds during the colder months.
Be prepared for emergencies
Returning to the topic of a kit bag for a moment, keeping an easily accessible bag in your car or even a convenient bag or box in the utility room is a fantastic idea that will help you prepare for any disaster.
A towel, some dog-friendly wet wipes, an antibacterial cream, bandage, scissors, tape, and surgical gloves are all things you'll want to have on hand. Extra poop bags, another leash, a few of their favourite snacks, a flashlight and a folding washbowl are also recommended.
If your dog is on any specific medication, it is always wise to keep a small amount of this in the bag just in case of emergencies, and though you’ll likely have numbers stored on your phone, writing down your vet’s contact number or that of an emergency vet is advisable.
Of course, we don’t ever want any of these situations to surprise us, but being prepared will help you best deal with it, ensuring you can give the best possible care and attention to your canine companion.
Here's to the next few months of battling with mucky, wet, and bitter weather. With your preferred jacket and boots on, going out to explore our lovely region with your special four-legged companion should not be deterred by any of the glorious mud you are going to get stuck in.
Ready? Let's go!