The other morning I found myself explaining to my mother the “simple” bath routine that Theresa and I follow every Friday morning for the dogs (as long as the sun comes out at least). It goes like this: 1) wet dog down, 2) lather coat and underside with coconut oil and let soak for about a minute, 3) rinse off oil, 4) shampoo dog and scrub, 5) rinse off, 6) scrub again to get loose hair, 7) rinse final time, 8) ring out and dry. And because they both remain damp, Simon and Rosee get put out in the backyard to play and dry off completely, because honestly, no one really enjoys the smell of wet dog lingering around. So ends the bath routine of Simon and Rosee. (See also An Itch, A Scratch, and Shampoo for the old version of bath time.)
Why such a drawn out routine complete with numbers and steps that go beyond lather, rinse, dry? Well, it’s kind of a gross story.
You see, Simon and Rosee get what I have always called hot spots. On their bellies and pretty much all along their entire undersides both pups end up with bright red dry spots that tend to pop up quite frequently when they have been indulging in the California sun a little too much. After our morning walks or running around outside for about forty minutes both dogs will start sporting these red spots, and so ensues the licking. In order to soothe the red dryness Simon and Rosee will lick non-stop as a way of trying to negate the lack of moisture. However, all this licking does is exacerbate the problem and leave them even drier and more angry-red looking underneath.
This past summer the red splotches got so bad that something had to be done. Rosee got cranky at being told to stop licking that she would hide in order to lick. Simon confronted all attempts to stop him with angry growls of frustration, and at one point he just completely refused to go to bed in his kennel at night because the residual warmth in it made his spots so uncomfortable. The poor boy and girl really were pathetic sights to behold, so Theresa and I set out to finding something, anything that could soothe the pups for good. The answer, thankfully, came quite swiftly and inexpensive.
One night after doing some research Theresa suggested coconut oil. Apparently, coconut oil is safe to give to dogs and to put on them topically. Now, I’ve been reading about the virtues and graces of coconut oil for some time, though I have to admit my reading has been for more personal care. I know that coconut oil is great to cook with, can be used on hair’s perpetually dry ends, and softens dry skin. However, I never thought that those same virtues could be put to use for the canines in my life. But boy (girl), has it made a difference on those named Simon and Rosee!
Initially, both dogs’ undersides were just rubbed down with coconut oil multiple times a day so that the oil’s moisturizing properties could get to work quickly, reversing the worst of the red splotches. Soon, Theresa started slowing giving the pups tastes of the oil, working her way up to about a tablespoon each. It really wasn’t an issue though since both went crazy over the stuff. (They go so far as to recognize the jar alone, and it’s enough to get them salivating.) Simon and Rosee gladly accept their spoonful every morning, licking the ground for any ghost drippings. Finally, came the addition of coconut oil to their weekly baths. And let me tell you, not only does the oil keep their undersides moisturized, it makes their coats so incredibly soft and shiny. Both dogs have been prone to some flakes, which is why they are also bathed with an all-natural soap bar, but the addition of the coconut oil only makes the soap work even better so that there are no flakes, no redness, and no end of the week smell. Coconut oil truly has been a great addition to our lives.
Now, I don’t think there’s many rules as to what brand of coconut oil is best. All I know is that organic and unrefined is what you need. Something about being organic and unrefined having the greatest benefits to the uses my household has put them towards. In fact, the brand that Theresa and I have agreed on is the store brand from Target. Aptly named Simply Balanced, the oil is specifically designated as organic, unrefined virgin coconut oil. It’s relatively inexpensive at about $7 for 14 fluid ounces, always in stock, and seems to be of good quality. It smells like coconuts, melts easily, soaks in completely, and leaves everything it touches feeling nice and soft. In fact, Simon loves the smell of it so much he tries to lick it off of himself and won’t leave me alone until I’ve washed it off my fingers after putting it on him.
It’s been about a month that the pups have been getting doused and ingesting the oil and their coats have never looked better. They feel soft, smell good, and it definitely helps keep angry red splotches at bay. The first jar of coconut oil we bought lasted about three weeks, quite a while considering it was used up on two good-sized babies that lapped it up like it was going out of style. So far coconut oil has become a great, natural, inexpensive, go-to remedy in our household and it’s worth looking into if you are trying to help your lovable canine’s coat look and feel better, both for his/her comfort and yours.