Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we coat our dog with cornmeal
January 23, 2011 2:05 AM   Subscribe

Can I get this cornmeal out of my dog's fur without shaving him?

Welcome to the most embarrassing question I have needed to ask in quite a while. Background: I have a chow-chow mix with the usual extremely thick and poofy double coat. He hates baths (resists, trembles, whines) and since he is almost 15 I thought that I should try to avoid stressing him out by giving him a dry bath.

I found a few recipes for dry shampoo that included cornmeal, baby powder, baking powder, among a few other things, and pretty much coated him in this mixture. After an hour or so of brushing, I seemed to have gotten it all out.

But it's been over a month since then, and I keep finding grains of cornmeal underneath his fur, way down against his skin. No matter how much I have brushed him, I keep finding more later. I tried giving him a wet bath, but still found more later on. I think it must be irritating and bad for his skin to have those grains in there.

I might be the only person to be dumb enough to have this problem, but in case anyone has ideas, I'd really appreciate them. I don't want to shave him in the middle of winter.
posted by Ashley801 to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is a consultation with/visit to a professional groomer a possibility? Seems like that may be your best bet.
posted by vers at 4:48 AM on January 23, 2011

They make very fine-toothed flea combs that are meant to pick up the nits and bugs out of animal fur. It might be slow going dragging it through a thick double coat but it ought to pick up a lot of whatever is left in there.

Is he afraid of the vacuum? I wonder if another good brushing might not loosen up any remaining grains and then kind of dig into his fur with one of the small attachments that go on the hose to pick them up.

In trying to figure out the name of a particular hose attachment I was envisioning, I found this link: pet attachments for vacuum. The comb attachment in particular might be just what you're looking for.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:45 AM on January 23, 2011

You might have some luck with a Furminator. They fetch the thick undercoat out quite easily, so they might bring the cornmeal out too.
posted by Solomon at 7:11 AM on January 23, 2011

Maybe try one of those sticky rollers designed to remove debris from clothes etc. - some people have been known to use it directly on animals, as evidenced by the link... if you get it down close to his skin, it might work. A groomer is also not a bad idea - some dogs like going to the groomer, as they get treats and it's an outing.

By the way, this isn't really an embarrassing problem to have, as you seem to fear - you tried using natural stuff to help keep your dog clean and to avoid stressing him out - evidence of care and kindness to animals is almost always a lovely thing, so don't be embarrassed.
posted by analog at 7:21 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Does your dog seem to be uncomfortable? Does the dog's skin seem to be irritated? Is there any indication at all that your dog is unhappy with his coat as it is? Even if you are not entirely happy with it your dog may be more disturbed by your attempts to clear these bits from his coat than it is by the small amount of dry shampoo left.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:48 AM on January 23, 2011

koahiatamadl: "Does your dog seem to be uncomfortable? ..."

Seconding this. If your dog doesn't seem to mind, then I wouldn't bother. It's not like cornmeal is toxic or anything.

But if he is bothered, you might douse him with more powder. The cornmeal grains might be sticking in there due to the moisture trapped by his double coat. Introducing some more powder might help get/keep things drier, making the cornmeal flakes easier to get out.

Also, depending on the weather where you are, maybe you could shave him? (Honestly, I don't know if this is something one does with chows, so please ignore if it is an entirely stupid suggestion.)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:07 AM on January 23, 2011

I've used cornmeal in my own hair, and I haven't ever been irritated by some of the grains sticking around for a few days. I don't see bits of cornmeal being much different from your dog's perspective than just some random bits of dust or grit might be in his coat anyway.

I wouldn't worry about it a bit. It's probably more irritating to you than him. In fact, I doubt he notices it at all. Just give him lots of scritches and it'll all eventually fall out.
posted by pajamazon at 8:08 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dry shampoo isn't going to work the same way on most animals as it does on human hair, because they have different hair. There is short, wool-y hair underneath that is meant to almost turn to felt to retain heat, and the thicker hairs protect that layer.

Regarding baths: dogs and cats have higher body temperatures than people. Water that is comfortably warm to us is downright chilly to them. If you warm it up to almost too hot for your hands, this ought to be much more comfortable for the animal. Also, set them in the tub or sink while it is dry, and use a hose flowing at a gentle rate to douse them. They get freaked out (as would I) by being dunked into a pool of chilly water, and by being squirted by a hose that is making hissing noises. I successfully bathed a 20 year old cat this way. She almost *liked* it. Almost.
posted by gjc at 9:13 AM on January 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Normally, dogs with those double coats rarely need baths, as in less than twice a year. Is there a reason you need to bath your dog at all? I would definitely not shave your dog either. That undercoat protects your dog from all kinds of things, including the sun and dirt. If your dog doesn't seem bothered by it, just it it come out naturally. You can also try a fine-tooth combing tool that is made to help remove the excess undercoat during shedding season. They sell them at any pet store.
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:38 AM on January 23, 2011

Get an undercoat rake. Available at all pet stores. It will get whatever remaining cornmeal is in there out.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:16 PM on January 23, 2011

Thank you so much everyone! I will try a variety of these ideas and report the results.
posted by Ashley801 at 10:15 AM on January 24, 2011

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