Your Maltese's brilliant white coat makes her the center of attention no matter where she is. But her bright white hair shows dirt like nobody's business, marring an otherwise pristine appearance. Rusty face stains and flea dirt can make your little Rapunzel look less than marvelous.
Make the Flea Flee
The scourge of dog owners for hundreds of years, the flea causes allergies and a frenzy of scratching, chewing and hair-pulling. Use flea-medicated shampoos to kill fleas on her. Take your time to thoroughly saturate her long hair and work the lather down to the skin. If even just two fleas survive, the problem could come back in a matter of weeks. See your vet for a monthly flea prevention medication to keep the little beasties away, and choose the best option for your pup.
Get the Red Out
Maltese are prone to rust-colored stains under their eyes and mouths. These stains appears due to a type of yeast that grows when your pup's tears soak into her hair. Wipe her eyes every day with a damp cotton ball to remove any goop or tears and prevent staining. Dyes in her food, minerals in her water and bacteria in her dishes can cause unsightly mouth stains. Offer distilled or filtered water and foods with little to no dye, and replace plastic food and water dishes with glass or stainless steel. Plastic dishes can crack, allowing bacteria to move in and transfer to your pup's face as she eats or drinks. Wash her mouth daily with a soapy washcloth to remove stains before they set, or use a commercial tear stain remover to whiten her up.
Dingy No More
As anyone with a white car knows, dirt shows quickly on this color. Long hair attracts dirt faster than shorter hair, so if your Maltese has a long, floor-length coat, she's got two strikes against her. Bathe her whenever she starts looking dingy, or monthly, to keep her clean and bright. A weekly bath is okay, just make sure to use a gentle dog shampoo that won't strip her coat of natural oils, leaving her skin dry. Use a shampoo specially designed for dogs with white coats to make her hair is as bright as possible. Apply conditioner to help prevent tangles, then rinse thoroughly to remove all residue. Brush as you blow her dry and she's ready for the runway.
It may take a while to get a Maltese pristine if you've been a little lax about her grooming. Once she's clean and parasite free, keeping her white and healthy is all about upkeep. Keep her on a regular flea prevention medication and brush her once a day to prevent mats, which can trap dirt. Wash her regularly, and wipe her face daily to keep stains at bay. Visit your vet if you find the stains are proving stubborn. Sometimes tear stains are caused by eye infections or malformed tear ducts, which require professional care to correct. She may also have little hairs poking her in the eye, causing excessive tearing. Your vet can snip these and give your pooch some relief.
- Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images