It can be hard to tell the ones we love the most that they have a personal hygiene issue – especially when the loved one in question is powerless to do anything about it.
So what’s to be done when you’ve tried everything from rewarding them for bathing to gently asking them to excuse themselves to another room?
You turn to Google, of course, and make a difficult admission to the entire world wide web: “My dog stinks.”
I knew Caber didn’t want to continue this way, and neither did we. In all other regards, he’s the perfect pet: good-natured, calm, gentle with even the smallest, least-gentle children.
But Caber smelled. Bad. Really bad.
It wasn’t always this way. He’s always been a very fit dog and, being a Labrador, has an inherent attraction to water. He’s too butch to go to a fancy groomer, but he wasn’t averse to a garden hose-style shower.
Over the years, though, Caber started to develop an aroma that went beyond normal dog-pong. One day, he brushed past me and the odour nearly knocked me flat.
“We are taking him to the vet,” I informed my husband.
On that particular occasion, he’d developed a delicate condition that you wouldn’t thank me for elaborating on. But after a hiatus the stink resumed, and no amount of baths, brushing or washing his bed would make it go. It was an all-over funk, not the hind-end problem alleviated by the vet, and it demanded a serious solution.
I’d already tried the specially scented dog shampoos and the supplementary fish oil, and knew a pleasant-scented-but-expensive dog bed with cedar filling wasn’t the answer. But a recurring theme from veterinarians and dog-owners online seemed to be ditching the kibble and introducing a raw-food diet.
Lauded for everything from better breath to an added spring in dogs’ steps, a raw-food diet sounded too good to be true. I was pretty sure Caber would love it, but would it really make a difference to his overall ordour, when his breath wasn’t especially bad?
As he does every morning, he tottered in after his walk ready to eat literally anything available. Was he just a tad more enthusiastic about chunks of actual meat instead of the dry food that usually clinks into his bowl? Hmm. Probably my imagination.
But after a week or so and another good scrub, I started to notice something. Or, rather, I didn’t notice something. I didn’t notice I was gagging when he sauntered up for a cuddle. And was he actually trotting with a little more pizazz? He’s pretty elderly, but he seemed a bit more sprightly.
It’s now been a few months since Caber started to embrace his wolf-like raw-eating ways and we’ve definitely noticed a pleasant change: where I once apologised for the smell emanating from his corner near the piano, there’s now nothing malodorous lurking there. I’m more generous with my cuddles and less likely to go running for the hand soap.
Now if only his diet could have the same effect whenever he goes jumping into the murky village duck pond!
Has anyone told you that your dog stinks?