How To Properly Bathe Your Dog

When your dog rolls around in the grass, and lick and chew his or her coat, you should know that these are self-maintenance regimes which help keep his coat clean. Sometimes, however, he or she will need help from you, his or her owner, to look and smell his or her best. Just like humans, pets like to feel clean and fresh. Dogs can become itchy, annoyed, and irritable when their fur becomes matted and coated with dirt. Bathing your dog helps his skin and coat look and feel clean, and also contributes to good health.

So, you may ask “How often should I bathe my dog?” The answer is “It depends.” There are a variety of factors that have to be considered in your dog’s bathing routine such as the breed, coat, health, and activity of your dog. Healthy dogs who spend most of their time indoors may only need a bath once or twice a year, while a dog who is active outdoors may need a bath more often, especially after some fun in the mud! Be careful not to over-bathe your dog. Bathing too frequently can actually dry the skin and coat, and make your dog itchy. Excessive water in your dog’s ears can sometimes start an infection. If your dog is prone to ear infections ask your vet about using an ear cleaner after bathing.

Regular brushing is even more important than bathing your dog! Brushing should be done at least once a week, more often for dogs with long or curly coats. This will prevent knots from forming, help to find fleas or ticks who may have caught a ride on your dog when he was last outside, and help you to become familiar with his or her normal body shape. Additionally, brushing is often how owners first find a lump or bump on their dog that needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian.

Here are some helpful steps to keep in mind when bathing your dog:

1. Give your dog a good brushing first. This will help remove dead hair and knots in his or her coat, and make it easier to wash after.
2. You should then put him or her in a tub/sink filled with four inches of warm water. Use a non-slip mat on the bottom of tub or sink.
3. Use a plastic pitcher or spray hose to drench your dog’s fur.
4. Try and be careful to not spray water into your pet’s eyes, nose, and ears
5. Use a shampoo formulated for dogs or cats, or use Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo. (must be safe if accidentally gets into the eyes)
6. For long hair breeds, make sure to lather straight down the back and sides to prevent matting. (massaging the shampoo like you would for a person will cause the matt to form knots and matt up.) Rinse WELL.
7. For long hair breeds consider finishing with a cream rinse or conditioner made for pets. Slick down fur with conditioner and rinse VERY thoroughly! Leaving a soapy residue will cause your dog to itch.
8. Dry him or her with a large towel. Let your dog do a good shake as this will help get water out of his or her ears.

Grooming Your Dog regularly can help address any abnormalities your dog might have on their skin, ears, and Teeth. Brushing and washing your dogs fur will help you notice and identify these irregularities on your pup, so you can address them with your veterinarian.

Please call today if you have any questions about how to handle your dog’s cleaning routine; we are always here to help!