QUESTION: How do you keep Bolognese dogs so white?
ANSWER: I’m sure many Bolognese owners have heard this question many times when out and about with their dogs. People are often surprised how white the Bolognese looks and think it is a lot of work to keep them that way. You can take your Bolognese out in wet conditions and your dog can get splashed with mud and dirt and look terrible when you get home. However when the coat has dried most of the dirt will simply fall out and little evidence will remain. Of course the show Bolognese coat will need more attention to keep it in tip top condition. Clean skin and coat will encourage growth, so your show dog will benefit from having mud and dirt shampooed off after a particularly messy walk! Grooming a dirty coat can also be detrimental if your Bolognese is in full show coat as it can break and damage the fur.
Generally it should not be necessary to bath your Bolognese unless you really want to freshen the coat, maybe once a month would be a good idea. However, if you show your dog a weekly bath and full groom would be recommended by professionals. It’s true that the bath brings back the natural crinkle (also called flocking) in the coat, but you can also do this with a fine spray of water. If your dog starts to smell a bit too doggy, it’s probably time to give them a bath. If you use a professional groomer, you should visit the salon every 4-5 weeks and keep the coat knot free in between visits. Definitely use a dog shampoo as it will be correctly Ph balanced for a dog’s coat. Coat conditioners and deodorisers applied directly to the coat can make your dog smell nice and are useful to freshen the coat between baths.
Of course sometimes a long coated dog like a Bolognese could need a ‘bottom wash’. To keep these embarrassing and messy episodes to a minimum, it is a good idea to trim a little coat away from around the anus using small blunt ended scissors. Alternately a regular trip to the groomer will sort out coat trimming, nails and ear plucking. Unfortunately some dogs just can’t resist rolling in fowl smelling matter such as fox poo! Sometimes a partial wash could be the answer, including maybe the feet and undercarriage after a muddy walk.
If you show your Bolognese, or just want them to look nice and white there are a variety of whitener shampoos to choose from. A pet shop brand Johnsons White ‘n’ Bright would be easily available. Alternatively there are a number of professional whitener shampoos and these are mostly used for show dogs. It is important to use a whitener shampoo according to the manufacturer’s instructions, as the shampoo may need to be diluted prior to use. If a whitener shampoo is not used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it could result in a purple haze appearing on the coat particularly in sunlight.
You should keep your dog’s face clean to avoid a build up of bacterial and other micro organisms that could cause a stained face. Face cleaning could be required several times a day depending on the amount of tears your dog produces and its susceptibility to staining. Eye wipes are available for dogs as well as foaming facial cleansers and even leave in no rinse spray shampoos. Always try to choose a product that has been developed for pets and use it according to the manufacturer’s directions.
The natural tears can stain the coat and for white dogs this can become unsightly. If you find your dog’s tear staining is a problem, the first thing to do is just check with your vet that there is no evidence of a medical reason, such as problems with the eye lids or tear ducts.
Dog owners have been trying to find the cause and cure for tear staining for years and years and many products have gradually appeared on the market. Something that works for one dog may not work for another which makes the problem even harder to understand and solve. Good grooming and keeping your dog’s face clean is of course top priority. Pet dogs could benefit from a little trim around the eyes to reduce irritation from the hair. Show dogs will benefit from having their fringe in a top knot and out of the eyes when not being shown.
Explanations for why tear staining happens often talk about Ph levels, fungal and bacterial infections, over production of tears, stress, diet, the list goes. No doubt these issues can all be contributory factors in some dogs. What does seem to make sense is that tear staining is typically the result of something called porphyrins. Porphyrins are naturally occurring molecules containing iron waste products from the breakdown or red blood cells and are mostly removed from the body in faeces. However, in dogs porphyrin can also be excreted through tears, saliva and urine. Incidentally these iron-related stains intensify/darken in the presence of sunlight, which is not good for outdoor dog shows. When researching tear staining certain factors come up again and again, so these are probably worth discussing.
- Diet – A poor diet may contribute to tear staining issues. Ensure your dog is being feed a nutritionally balanced diet if you need advice speak to your vet or local nutritional advisor. In some cases is appears that a fish based sensitive diet free of wheat greatly improves some dogs tear staining.
- Teeth & Ears – evidence does show that teething puppies and dogs with dental issues can be troubled by tear staining. Links have also been made to ear infections, ear mites and tear staining.
- Water – If your tap water happens to be high in mineral content or iron, consider using bottled water, or use a filter to create cleaner water.
- Hormones – some bitches tear staining clear after they have a litter, indicating a hormonal link.
- Breeding – some lines seem to be more prone to tear staining than others. We can only guess at why some dogs make more porphyrin than others (and therefore have more tear staining). We can assume genetics and innate bacterial levels are involved, because certain breeds and lineages can be more prone to staining.
- Food & water bowls – avoid plastic dog bowls as they can harbour bacteria. Use stainless steel, porcelain or glass. Plastic food bowls often develop tiny cracks that can harbour bacteria.
- Smoky environments – it is thought that exposure to second hand cigarette smoke can cause dogs to develop a tear staining problem.
There are many commercial products and home remedies claiming to remove and prevent tear stains. Many people have tried many of these possible solutions and sometimes sadly they see little or no improvement. When asking experienced dog people what they find works, certain pieces of experience and advice seems to come up again and again.
- Bicarbonate of soda – mix in warm water and wipe eyes daily
- Optrex – clean eyes daily with Optrex eye wash
- Live natural yogurt – try a spoon a day on your dog’s dinner
- Colloidal Silver – clean your pet’s face with colloidal silver, which is completely safe around the eyes. You can buy it at any health food store or on-line, in a spray or liquid dropper. Colloidal silver has antimicrobial properties and will help reduce opportunistic yeast infections and moist dermatitis that can occur in the corners of your pet’s eyes. Colloidal Silver can also be added to drinking water, or used as a spray.
To cover up mild discolouration in the coat such as on the feet or face, there are a number of products that are worth trying, even though it’s only a temporary solution. You can use a whitener grooming spray or dry shampoo (good for feet), liquid chalk or grooming powder for the face. These products would be available only from specialist suppliers.
To summarise, you could be lucky and your Bolognese has a super white coat all year round and everybody is envious. Bathing alone is not the answer for particular areas of staining. Muddy feet could well simply disappear after an hour or so in a dry place and a quick brush over.
We would LOVE to hear your stories about keeping your Bolognese white. So do make a comment in the comment box below if you can contribute to this subject.