Bathing

April 12, 2012

Why bathe a dog

Conscientious pet owners would always ensure the well being of their pets. Good grooming is equally important to giving the pet proper nourishment. Pet dogs always want to be beside the owners. They stay inside the house. They can lie on the floor but most would prefer to lie in the couch if not in our laps. And if allowed they would even sleep in our beds. Needless to say, their cleanliness must be maintained.

Have you heard about the myth that says dogs must not be bathed? Actually there is some truth in this notion. Too frequent bathing would remove the essential oil from the coat. The coat will soften and its insulating capability will be reduced. Moreover, frequent bathing would result to dry itchy skin.

Bathing a dog can be a challenge especially if the dog is an escape artist. Of course this task can be given to a groomer but you will rob yourself the joy of bonding with your pet. Also once the dog is accustomed to being bathed it would enjoy all the care and attention dished out by his most favorite person. So how often would you need to bathe your dog? Experts say that bigger dogs can be bathed every 2 months, medium sized dogs every 4 to 5 weeks and small ones can be bathed every 2 weeks. Double coated dogs and smooth and short coated ones that generally stay inside the house can be bathed 3 to 4 times a year. These are only suggestions given that the frequency of bathing your pet would depend on the breed as well as on the activity and the circumstances the pet is exposed to. The rule of thumb is to let your nose do the telling. If the dog’s smell is bothering you then the pet has to be bathed.

Most dogs have a doggy smell. Dogs also seem to have an excessive liking to roll on anything that smells like it has died weeks ago. Dogs may not mind their smell but most certainly we do! If the bothersome smell announces the presence of the dog, if your guest or the people in the park you pass while walking the dog wrinkles their nose then definitely the dog would need to be bathed. Because dogs are naturally inquisitive, they may fall in muddy and smelly ditches. They may also be sprayed by a skunk while hunting.

Special Requirements

The age, breed type and length of fur and the condition of the skin are important factors that must be considered before bathing a dog. A vet’s consult is advisable if you are not sure when a puppy can be given its first bath. The breed and the activities of the dog is an important factor to consider as some breed would require more frequent bathing. The size and the skin condition of the dog must be considered. A small dog can be bathed in the sink and naturally a bigger one would need a bigger tub. Needles to say, bathing requirements would differ in dogs with problematic skin conditions from those with healthy skin.

Brushing the dog’s coat before a bath is always a good idea. A thorough brushing before a bath is most needed by long haired dogs. This is to remove the tangles and the mats as bathing can worsen the tangles. It would be hard to thoroughly rinse matted hair. Wet fur is more difficult to unsnarl. Badly matted fur may be snipped; the hair would grow back anyway. But be careful in doing this as you would not want to nick the skin of your pet. Using a blunt tipped scissors would be a good idea. You may want to trim the nails of the dog before bathing. A dog trying to get away may scratch you.

Sticky substances like gum and tar that adhered to the coat must be dissolved and removed with mineral oil or petroleum jelly. Some owners soften the sticky substance overnight. If the gooey substance is not removed from the coat, trimming the affected area would be more advisable rather than using commercial solvent, paint removers or cleaners. Aside from harming the dog’s sensitive skin these toxic substances can poison the dog if ingested.

Five week old puppies may be given its first bath especially if the smell is becoming bothersome. But you have to consider the fact that the skin of these pups is very sensitive and may not be able to tolerate harsh shampoos. Not all dog shampoos and soaps are suitable for all ages and skin type. A homemade shampoo made by mixing a quart of water with 1/3 cup glycerin, 1 cup white vinegar and a cup of dishwashing liquid is good for puppies and dogs with very dry skin.

Choosing the right shampoo

Hopefully you are not one of the dog owners who would pick any shampoo from the shelf as long as it has a picture of a dog on the label or one that would simply grab the shampoo you use and use it to for the dog too. People shampoos must not be used on our pets because these shampoos are formulated for skins with an acidic pH level and may irritate the sensitive skin of the dog. If we take some time to choose the shampoo that would suit our type of hair, the same thing must be done for our furry companions. Naturally it would be better if a vet can prescribe the correct shampoo for your dog especially if the pet has a chronic skin problem. But even without the vet’s expertise you can pick a shampoo that would best suit your pet. The trick is to have an idea what your dog really needs. Does your dog have fleas, an obnoxious doggy odor, flaky dry skin or do you need a shampoo that would make your dog’s long hair more manageable?

Skin inflammation and infections are often caused the dog’s excessive scratching that is a result of flea bites. A flea and tick shampoo that contains insecticides formulated to kill fleas should be chosen. However, this shampoo must not be used in puppies under 12 weeks and manufacturer’s instructions must be strictly followed.

If your dog is one with sensitive skin, you would need a shampoo that contains jojoba oil, oatmeal, aloe vera and glycerin. These are moisturizing agents that soothe and controls dry and itchy skin. Dogs have doggy smells but some have seborrhea. This strong doggy smell will be eliminated with medicated deodorizing shampoo. Tear stain remover shampoo, whitening shampoo, color intensifying shampoo as well as conditioning shampoo are all formulated to enhance the appearance of the dog’s coat. Shed control shampoo is mild enough to be used every day and is very effective in preventing excessive shedding.

One of the reasons why dogs resist bathing is because the eyes is irritated by soaps and shampoos. A tearless shampoo is specially formulated not to sting the eyes of the dog. A waterless shampoo can be considered as an “emergency treatment” to clean a dog without a wet bath. You just need to spray the dirty part of the coat, towel dry and its done!

Teaching a dog to accept being bathed

We all know that dogs dislike bathing and owners would put off the task until they can no longer stand the smell of the pet. Bathing can be an enjoyable time not only for the pet but also for the owner if Fido or Fifi is slowly and gradually introduced to bathing. The process of introducing the dog to bath time would take several days.

Step 1

Let the dog become familiar with the bathing paraphernalia. Allow your pet to sniff the soap, shampoo, brushes and towels.

Step 2

If the dog will be bathed in the tub inside the bathroom, encourage the dog to enter the bathroom. Let the dog see you step into the tub. You may put his toys in the tub and if he is enticed to step into the tub reward him with treats and praises.

Step 3

Repeat the process the following day but this time add several inches of warm water to the tub. The dog may vault if it became aware that he is stepping on water. Restrain the dog gently and reassure him with verbal praises. This time you may let the dog get accustomed to the sound running water by opening the shower head without allowing the spray to wet the dog.

Step 4

This is bath time. When the dog enters the tub restrain him with one hand and use the shower head to spray the dog’s back and shoulder.

How to bathe a dog

Puppies and small breed of dogs would naturally be easier to bathe as the kitchen sink will do. Smaller dogs must be bathed very gently and very quickly too. To keep the dog from slipping, place a rubber mat or a folded towel on the sink. Some dogs would be frightened by the gushing water and a small pitcher may be more ideal to pour water on the small dog.

  • After wetting the dog squirt shampoo on the dogs back and work out up a lather making sure that the neck, underside and the legs are cleaned.
  • Use a damp wash cloth on the dog’s face. This will avoid getting shampoo on the eyes.
  • Rinse very well making sure that no shampoo residue is left. Dry thoroughly with absorbent pet towel.

Definitely, the kitchen sink will not do to bathe a medium sized dog. If your pet weighs from 40 to 50 pounds you either have to bathe him indoors or you need to purchase a dog bath. An elevated one would be more kind to your back. A rubber mat placed on the tub would keep the dog from slipping.

  • Place a cotton ball on the ears and a drop of mineral oil on the eyes of the dog before bathing
  • Fill the tub to the level of the dog’s knees and get your dog into the tub.
  • Use the shower attachment to wet the dog all over. A cup may be used to wet his head making sure that water won’t get into his eyes.
  • Shampoo the dog all over making special attention on the feet and genital area. Baby shampoos may be used on the dogs face, but be careful not to get shampoo on the eyes.
  • Hand held showers would be more efficient to rinse the dog thoroughly.
  • Wrap the dog quickly with a towel. Once released dogs tend to shake. They would spray you with water from their bodies.
  • Making the dog climb into the tub is the hard part in bathing large dogs. Another is finding a tub large enough to accommodate them. If the weather is hot this will not be a problem as the dog can be hosed down in the yard. Most owners would bathe their large dogs in their own tubs. To entice the dog to enter the tub you can use treats and toys or you can climb into the tub first and call the dog. Once he is inside you can use a bathing tether.
  • Rubber mats at the bottom of the tub will make sure the dog will not slip.
  • Use the shower attachment to wet the dog’s back. It would be better if the dog will be encouraged to lie down on the warm water so that the belly will get thoroughly wet. A sponger or a wash cloth can be used to wet his head.
  • Squirt shampoo on the dog’s back. Work up a good lather making sure that the lather is massaged down to the skin. Rubber brush may be used on the dog’s paws. Rinse the dog’s head first making sure that no shampoo enters the eyes. This can be done by covering the eyes and pouring water carefully on the head.
  • Rinse the whole body until the water runs clear. This means that no soap or shampoo residue is left.
  • Wrap the dog in pet towels. These towels that can absorb water ten times their weight would efficiently dry the dog especially those with thick long hair.
  • Remove cotton balls from the ears and dry remaining moisture with the towel.
  • Pet dryers may be used but make sure that it is not aimed directly to the face of the dog.

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