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What are Dog Washing Machines? Alternatives to Bathing your Dog

By: Heather Stern

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What are dog washing machines? I had not heard of such a thing until recently. Let me share what I learned with you.

As you may know, bathing your pet can be a time consuming and labor intensive process. In today's fast-paced world, automatic dog washes may provide a quick and simple solution for this chore.

Good hygiene is every bit as important for pets as it is people. Healthy skin and coat are dependent on good grooming practices. Poor hygiene is often a complicating factor in animal disease. In order to protect your pet's health, regular baths with appropriate pet-approved products are necessary.

Automatic dog washing stations are popping up across the nation in grooming salons and coming soon to large retail pet stores.

How Dog Washing Machines Work

Dog washing machines are modeled quite similarly including a large completely enclosed cabin with see-through door, suitable to contain a wide range of pet sizes.

Dog washing machines are equipped with rinsing and lathering jets, drying apparatus, and a dosing system for topical product administration. The products are designed to bathe and dry a dog in under a half hour. Just like an automated car wash, the cycle starts with warm-water wet-down, followed by non-detergent lather, warm-water rinse and temperature controlled drying periods. Throughout the cycle, pet owners can watch through the clear observation door.

Benefits of Dog Washing Machines

Manufacturers of dog washing machines claim that automatic washing units function as a hydro massage to relieve muscle pain and promote stress relief. Their use may benefit pets with arthritis or muscle weakness and serve as an adjunct to physical therapy or rehabilitation. Furthermore, their ease of use may improve a pet owner's ability to keep their pet clean and healthy in a timely and convenient fashion.

Safety Concerns of Dog Washing Machines

These machines should not be run unsupervised and each are equipped with an emergency stop button to facility quick exit as needed. Some pets may not tolerate the enclosure and automation that is necessary for use of the automated pet washing stations.

It's also important that pet owners frequently evaluate their pets for wounds, growths or other abnormalities of the skin and coat. An automated machine will not alert you if your pet has an abrasion or small skin tumor that remains hidden beneath the fur, as many of these abnormalities are best seen or felt on a wet pet.

Although these stations are designed to keep a pet's head away from the line of jet spray, wiggling, nervous or excited pets may inadvertently be sprayed in the eyes, ears, nose or mouth. Irritation to these regions is a point of concern for sensitive pets, despite the gentle shampoo generally installed in these machines. A final point to consider is that automated units may remove what used to be a bonding experience between pets and their family.

Who Makes Dog Washing Machines?

Several companies manufacture dog washing machines for retail sale to grooming salons, pet-stores, veterinary offices, kennels, and boarding facilities. The *Lavakan de Aste* (www.lavakandeaste.com) was the first commercial automated dog washing machine manufactured in 1999. Other units such as *PetSpa* (www.petspausa.com) have joined in to produce new designs as industry demand increases. Machines are retail priced at approximately $20,000.00 for purchase, but pet owners can expect a single use at public locations to average $15.00.

Whether automated dog washing is right for your pet should be carefully considered, weighing both benefits and concerns before use.


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