Trotz is a big boy and giving him a bath is a big job! It can also be an expensive job.
He has allergies, sensitive to the grass and mold out here in NE Texas. I can’t tell you how many shampoos I’ve bought, tried, discarded. They aren’t cheap. Oatmeal and aloe, lavender and chamomile, the list goes on and on.
After 2 years, we settled on Furminator Brand Itch Relief Ultra Shampoo. A little over 16 ounces is roughly $13. If you go to smile.amazon.com you can purchase it in bulk or get a second bottle for about half off, all while contributing to a non-profit of your choice.
It handled most of the itching, but here in the woods, we also have chiggers. Trotz is loaded up on flea, tick, heartworm, mosquito, and allergy products…but nothing seemed to give him any relief from chiggers.
A couple of months ago, I start the bath prep for 3 dogs. My little dog, 10 year old, Miss Molly, promptly ran under the cabin to roll in dirt and hide. The old lady, my son’s pit bull mix who passed recently, 13 year old Crash, went in search of a sunny spot to bask in. Trotz followed me out to his runner, sat while I hooked him up, then wandered off into the weeds to explore.
I began heating the water for the old ladies, filling jugs to bathe them. They do not do garden hose baths. While the water pot was on the burner, I started gathering the towels, leash, yoga pad, and shampoo. No shampoo. It was with all the dog bath things, but now it wasn’t anywhere in sight. All the dogs looked rather guilty, I think the coordinated the mischief. They just don’t understand the power of Bing.
I go inside and type in “homemade dog shampoo” and get a recipe that might just work. Blue Dawn dish soap, vinegar, warm water. That’s it. I double checked, ingredients are known to be safe on dogs.
I use blue Dawn dish soap for everything out here. I keep several bottles handy. All I had was some apple cider vinegar, but figured that would work okay. I mixed 1/2 cup of Dawn, 1/2 cup of vinegar into an empty gallon jug, then filled with warm water and mixed it up.
Wow, it was potent stuff. I sought out Miss Molly, got her out from under the cabin and bathed her. Wet dog and egg salad smell wafted through the air. Yuck! I quickly toweled dried her, put her inside, then went to round up old Crash. She liked it, the smell appealed to her and we spent most of the bath trying to keep her from licking at the suds. Got her toweled off and in the cabin, then called Trotz over. Nearly out of the homemade shampoo, I had mixed it a bit thin, I mix a bit more up and get to work.
Now while the girls had shorter hair, Trotz is typical Germen Shepherd, dense coat, lots of hair. As I washed, dirt just ran off him with the now gray suds. The wet dog and egg salad smell was mind boggling. I finally got him cleaned up, rinsed, and toweled dried. Hooked him to his leash and brought him inside the cabin.
As I opened the cabin door, the smell just about knocked me back. I went, quickly, around the cabin, opening windows, turning on fans. Put Trotz in his kennel with a fan on him, then fled to sit on the porch, door open behind me. The smell seemed to be following me.
I turned to ponder a better way to get the pups dried and realized the smell HAD followed me, the girls were behind me, laying in the sun on the porch. While this might be a great homemade shampoo, no way could I handle the smell. I was going to have to find something to get rid of the vinegar smell. I went around, putting up the bath supplies, throwing the used towels in the wash, then returned to the porch. The smell was nearly gone off the girls. As they dried, the smell went away. And they weren’t scratching! They were resting happily in the sun.
I went inside. Trotz was nearly dry from the fan, he had a very faint easter egg smell. His fur was very soft, shining, and he had stopped scratching. As he dried, the smell went away.
Over the months, I’ve played with the concentration of the recipe for what works best for us. I think we found the perfect mix for us.
Trotz gets a mix of 1/4 cup of original blue Dawn soap, 1/4 of white vinegar (apple cider vinegar is just as good) mixed with water in a 16 oz bottle, roughly costing .48 cents. I use the entire bottle on him with each bath, and he is bathed every 2 weeks.
I keep up on the flea and tick drops, but the chiggers and other bugs seem to actively dislike the mix. The run off water from his bath seems to work to keep the bugs away from the back deck. He is incredibly clean, his fur so soft, and after he is dry, he smells very pleasant. I’m considering adding some mint or rosemary to the mix to see if that will work further on the mosquitos.
The one thing this wonder of homemade stinkiness does not do, he still sheds like a…well, German Shepherd. And after his baths, I am usually soaking wet, covered in dog hair, and smell like potato salad.