At some point, all dog owners are faced with questions concerning puppy hygiene. To bathe or not to bathe? How often? There are multiple different factors that will play into determining how often a dog needs to be bathed. Not unlike humans, different dogs will have differing levels of body odors, some requiring baths more often and others being able to go for longer times between baths.
Some dogs like to roll around in filth and get dirty more often. This can be the case with dogs who mostly live outside and are free to roam and explore. Inside dogs are not as likely to get as dirty. Personality also figures in. You may have the stinkiest indoor dog on the planet, simply due to the fact that they insist on finding a dead worm to roll on anytime, they go out for a potty break.
Then there are the dogs who, either by breed or due to individual health, are prone to skin problems. These types are dogs are going to require more specific and frequent bathing and grooming to help ease the discomfort or minimize the issues that might develop from neglected hygiene.
Generally speaking, at the end of the day, though, bathing frequency really just comes down to how often you want to do it. If your dog lives primarily outdoors, they might not bother you that they work up a smell.
For those who feel the need to bathe their dog more often, there are some general guidelines for proper hygiene maintenance as well as a myriad of tools and products that can help make the bathing experience more pleasant and convenient for both you and your dog. After all, not all dogs enjoy a good scrubbing.
Some dog care professionals will recommend that general hygiene should involve a bath about once per month using a good quality dog shampoo or even a human baby shampoo. If bathing is required more often, it is a good idea to find a bath product that, at the least, will not dry out your dog’s skin.
Bathing Your Dog
For some dogs, the prospect of being drenched with water, scrubbed down with soap and then drenched again and toweled off is nothing short of torturous. Some even find it downright terrifying. This can be a problem for the person trying to bathe the dog, especially if that dog is very big at all.
It can quickly devolve into a wrestling match leaving the groomer just as wet and soapy as the unmanageable pet.
With patience and a few established expectations, your dog can actually be taught to endure bathtime with minimal struggle. The trick is two-fold:
Firstly, teach your pup that bath time is, in fact, not torture by associating the experience with things that they do enjoy. During each step of bath time, provide them with a small treat, like a dog treat or a piece of human food that is safe and a splurge.
If your dog attempts to bolt at the sound of the faucet being turned on, give them a treat as soon as they are settled into the tub and before the soaking process begins. Treat them likewise after they are wet through after they are rinsed and once the bath is over.
Treats can also come in the form of activities that they enjoy. Try scheduling your dog’s bath time to be following by a walk to the park, dinner time, a game of fetch or a new toy. When every bath time is broken up or followed by a treat of some kind, they will quickly learn that bathing comes with things they love.
Even if they never learn to enjoy the bath itself, they can at least learn to tolerate it for the sake of the treats, leaving the groomer with much less hassle and mess to deal with.
In addition to the reward system, it is usually also effective to slowly work your dog into bath times. This can be started by introducing your dog to the bathroom, or whatever area where the bath will be taking place, and letting them spend some time getting familiar and comfortable with the area. Try putting the dog in the tub for a few minutes at a time and disperse treats during the entire time. Do this for several days in a row.
Next move on to turning the water on, while the dog is near or in the tub. Don’t get them wet yet, simply allow them to become used to the sounds and sensations of running water. Try lathering a bit of shampoo between your hands and letting them smell it to get used to the scent.
Remember to keep dispensing treats.
Also be sure to be aware of your own body language and voice. A calm, relaxed and reassuring presence will be a comfort to your dog and hopefully, soon they will adopt the same vibe.
Starting your dog young is the most effective way to get them used to the bathing and grooming process. The younger they are when they are introduced to bathing, the easier they will be to handle as an adult. In addition to everything that has been discussed, it is also helpful to handle your dog, all over their body, every day.
This will get them used to being touched. Handle their muzzle and ears, rub around their neck, handle their legs, feet, and stomach and pick up and stroke their tail. Throw in plenty of pleasant feeling rubbing and scratching and sooth them through the process by talking to them and praising them. This helps them to learn that being handled is not something to fight against.
Tubs and Tables
Some dogs are just too big and messy to bathe in the bathroom. Fortunately, an area that can stand up to some splashed water can work for bath time. Technically you don’t even need a tub if your dog is not traumatized by a steady water stream pointed at them, a good hosing can do the trick.
However, for those looking for some tools to help make the entire process a little less stressful, there are options such as grooming tubs and tables that can be of great help. These will allow your dog to be at an elevated height that will now require you to be bent over, therefore saving and protecting your back. Many of these tables even come with manual lifts. Simply lead your dog in through the doggy door while the tub is lowered to ground level and then adjust the easy to use lift them to whatever height you need.
Many of these tables and tubs are also equipped with an arm to which you can leash your dog for added safety as well as a drain hole or tube for easy emptying.
Bathing and Grooming Tools
Along with great tools, there are also multiple tricks that can help to make bath time go more smoothly.
Firstly, finding the right shampoo is important. Although some will say that baby shampoo is fine and gentle enough for use on a dog, the fact of the matter is that all human shampoos are designed with a different pH than doggie shampoos. So although they may not irritate your dogs’ eyes or skin, many consider that they are not the best option for your dog.
If your dog has specific skin issues, you will likely need to consult with your vet on which soaps and shampoos are safe and helpful to their specific condition. If you just need a good overall doggy shampoo, Entirely Pets has a wonderful selection of dog soaps.
A good one to check out is the Gold Medal Puppy Shampoo. The gentle, tearless formula works to clean your dog’s hair without irritating skin or eyes and leaves your dog’s coat soft and shiny. It is hypoallergenic and also works for kittens.
It’s also great to have a bath brush. Not only can this tool help your shampoo do its job more effectively by working it more thoroughly into the fur, but it also loosens and sheds fur that is ready to drop. This helps to significantly reduce shedding outside of the bath. For your dog, the added bonus is a soothing and relaxing massage.
When it’s time to bathe your dog, the first thing to do is make sure that you have all of your products gathered. It only adds frustration and stress to the bath experience if you get your dog soaked down or even all the way through the bath only to realize that your shampoo or drying towels are in the other room. Once every item you will need is gathered and within close and easy reach, you can begin the bathing process.
A thorough brushing is important before a bath because it helps to remove mats. When a mat is missed and ends up wet, it gets bigger and becomes unmanageable.
The only thing left to do at that point is too cute or shave it out. If a mat is left, bacteria can grow behind it, close to the skin and cause a nasty infection. Also, trying to brush out a wet, stubborn mat can result in the skin being pulled away from muscle which is very painful for your dog.
If you are bathing your dog in a tub or on a table, be sure that the bottom has a non-slip surface for good grip to avoid your dog slipping and getting hurt. If the table or tub that you have selected does not have a non-slip surface already installed you can either use a non-skid rubber mat or simply lay a towel down for your dog to stand on.
In order to minimize any irritation to your dog’s eyes or ears, you can apply a few drops of a bland eye ointment to your dog’s eyes and insert small cotton ball pieces into your dog’s ears to block water. Don’t forget to remove the cotton after the bath is over.
No matter what kind of tub you are using, but especially if you in using the bathroom tub where the water will drain into pipes, you can minimize hair clogging by putting a small piece of steel wool into the drain hole. This will catch the dog hair as the water drains to keep it from building up and causing nasty issues later.
Before your dog gets wet, it is important to thoroughly brush them. This is especially important if your dog has long hair and tends to shed. For short-haired dogs, you can use a curry brush or dog and the brushing will be less intensive. However, for the medium to long-haired dogs, you will need a brush that can handle the thicker hair. Good options for this include a pin brush, a slicker or a rake that will be sure to reach the undercoat.
Follow the brushing with any other needed grooming. This includes trimming mats, clipping nails, cleaning eye debris, brushing teeth and removing wax from inside the ears.
It is always important to keep a dog’s nails well groomed. If allowed to grow out the result can be injuries such as twisting of the toe, affected gait, damage to the pads of the foot should the nail curl under and even skeletal damage due to irregular gait. Clip regularly, as often as every week for some dogs.
Cleaning The Eyes
For some dogs, this is a simple as wiping away debris to keep it from irritating the corner of the eye. For other dogs, especially longer haired or white haired dogs, cleaning will need to be more thorough to make sure that all gunk is removed from the coat around the eyes. This hair can also be trimmed away to help keep the area cleaner. It is advised to let a professional groomer or vet do trimming around the eyes.
Dog’s teeth need to be brushed several times each week in order to avoid plaque buildup and other issues. If your dog refuses to allow you to brush, you can use an antimicrobial spray in their mouth.
Cleaning Out The Ears
A q-tip with some ear cleaning solution can be used to gently clear excess wax from the ears. In addition, a few warm drops of rubbing alcohol will help to dry up any water left in the ears after the bath and help to dispose of mites, bacteria, and yeast.
Once the entire bathing process is over your dog’s coat needs some finishing touches. For short-haired dogs, especially when owners prefer to allow dogs to air dry, a simple rub down with a towel may be sufficient. However, for long-haired and double coated dogs, it is usually recommended to help the drying process with the use of a hairdryer. Make sure that it is set on the coolest setting possible to avoid burning your dog or causing the skin to become dried out. Don’t dry the hair thoroughly or it can also cause the skin to become too dried.
Curly haired dogs will need to be dried thoroughly to avoid the hair reverting to curl. Always be sure to dry feet thoroughly to avoid the onset of fungus. For longer haired dogs it is also advised to use a brush while drying.