Many first-time dog owners have a plethora of questions, how often do I walk my dog? How much do I feed him? When should I bathe my dog? We totally get it.
You want to do everything right when it comes to your fur baby. After all, too much of a good thing can be problematic. Overfeeding can lead to obesity for instance. Today we are going to detail how often to bathe a dog.
When Do I Bathe My Dog?
Well, when he smells really bad would be the most obvious answer, however, you are probably concerned about some other common issues. Skin problems are another factor in determining when it is time for a doggy bath.
If your pup has any medical issues, you should consult with your veterinarian before bathing your dog as they may need a special shampoo or limited bath time to avoid added stress.
When they Start to Smell Funky?
Not unlike humans, no two dogs necessarily smell the same, so only you will really know when he is truly starting to stink. There are some medical conditions that cause a not so pleasant odor so you will want to be aware of those as well.
Ear infections, dental issues, and full anal glands are a few. If your dog still smells foul after his bath you may want to make an appointment with your family vet.
Learn To Read: How To Take Care A Newborn Puppy?
Listen to the Professionals
If your dog has any pre-existing medical conditions, it would be a good idea to speak with your veterinarian about precautions or limitations your pup may need. Also like we just mentioned, a foul-smelling pooch could be an indication of a medical problem, like seborrhea.
If your pup has sensitive skin or is prone to skin conditions, the doctor may recommend using a medicated shampoo. If your dog is prescribed a special shampoo, use this, and only this, to bathe him unless the veterinarian states otherwise.
As we said before as innocent as a simple bath may seem, there are some medical conditions that can affect the bathing process – pets with heart conditions should be bathed in a stress-free way as much as possible.
Dogs with CHF (Chronic Heart Failure) have a higher risk of seizures and cardiac arrest, especially in stressful situations. Certain skin issues can also require specialized shampoo.
Pay Attention to the Skin of your Pup
Skin conditions among pets are quite common but can be very uncomfortable for your furbaby. Itchiness, inflammation, and even sores can come with the territory.
Using the correct water temperature and a shampoo that is formulated for doggies with sensitive skin. Oatmeal-based dog shampoo is generally a safe bet.
Related Reading: At What Age Do Puppies Grow The Most?
Breeds with a Double Coat
Some breeds have both a top coat and an undercoat. Dogs like Huskies, Akitas, Labradors, and Chows naturally have a thick, dense undercoat which makes them more prone to matting.
If not taken care of, matted fur can cause skin irritations and lesions. Daily brushing is important for those with double coats. Regular grooming can also help and either your vet or the groomer should be able to recommend a coat-appropriate shampoo.
Breeds with a Naturally Oily Coat
Dog breeds such as the Basset Hound have oily coats and skin, therefore he would need to be bathed more frequently than say, a beagle that does not have an overly oily coat. Once a week should suffice.
If your dog has developed an oily coat suddenly, you may be dealing with seborrhea which is a skin condition that would need to be treated by a veterinarian. Other symptoms can include itchy, smelly, dry, scaly, skin.
Don’t fret, it is an easy fix. Your vet may recommend trying a medicated shampoo and/or a diet change.
Short Haired Breeds/those with a Water-repellent Coat
Some dog breeds have evolved so that they now have a special gland that helps to waterproof their coat. The Labrador breed has a double coat that is also naturally water-resistant.
These dogs may require special steps when getting a bath for obvious reasons, such as giving him a thorough brushing/combing before bath time. While bathing, be sure to massage deeply to reach the scalp underneath the thick fur.
The Correct Way to Bathe your Dog
Developing a routine when bathing your dog can be helpful. It can also make a nervous pup more comfortable when he hears that tub filling up (mine used to hide). We will break down the important points you should remember when getting ready for doggy bath time. If you are more of a watcher, this video may come in handy.
The Appropriate Depth of Warm Water
You do not want the bathwater to be too cold or too hot, going with lukewarm is usually a safe bet. You should also keep the water level at about 3-4 inches deep. This will help keep the water well below the pup’s neck and avoid facial splashing. Remember to use warm water not hot.
Let your Pup Adjust to the Water
Some dogs are anxious when comes to bathtime. To ensure that your pup doesn’t get too stressed out, give him a few minutes to get him used to it. The more comfortable they are, the easier this is going to be for both you, and your dog.
Never use ice cold or scalding hot water (this should be a given but hey..).
Avoid Spraying Water in his Face
Some dogs love water, some hate it, many do not like water being sprayed directly in their faces. It can already be stressful and splashing water in your dog’s face will only exacerbate the issue. This will also help keep soap out of Fido’s eyes and mouth. We want this to be a pleasant experience for you both.
Start At the Head and Work your Way Down his Back
Again, to avoid spooking an already anxious pooch, you should get your pet comfortable with the bathing process. You should start at his shoulders/neck area and work your way back, gently massaging an appropriate doggy shampoo into his coat.
Continue down his back toward his rump. We are ultimately trying to save the head/face for last.
Use a Shampoo Specially Formulated for Dogs
You always want to use a shampoo that is specifically made for dogs. They have many different types, sensitive skin, all-natural, etc. The formula type will largely depend on the type the dog will need. If he has sensitive skin, a soap with a lot of fragrance may not be the best choice.
Gently Rinse your Pet
When rinsing off your pet you’ll want to make sure that is the right temperature.
If using a detachable showerhead, try not to use too much pressure and steer clear of his face as much as possible.
There actually special shower attachments made specifically for bathing your dog.
Gently Pat Dry with an Absorbent Towel
I have seen so many people use an already damp towel to dry off. Yeah, it is not going to do a great job.
When your pup is all done with his bath (make sure all soap/shampoo is rinsed off as it can cause skin irritation), you will want to pat him dry with an absorbent, dry, towel. Remember to be gentle!
What you’ll Need to Wash your Dog?
Almost like preparing a bath for your young child, it is a good idea to have everything set up and within reach before adding Fido to the tub.
Things that you are going to need:
- Sufficient space: Depending on the size of your pooch, indoor baths, or outdoor baths, be sure there is enough space to get the bath done without being cramped.
- Shampoo: We are going to get into more detail shortly but an appropriate dog shampoo is a necessity.
- Access to lukewarm water: I know that I hate freezing cold showers, and I a sure that your dog would not like them much either.
- A brush or dog comb: One that is compatible with your dogs’ coat.
- Water Alternatives: Now, these should not be used instead of a bath but are helpful for in between bathings.
- An absorbent towel: Compulsory for bathing your fur baby.
With the abundance of different types and brands of pet shampoos on the market, it can be a bit overwhelming.
You need to take into consideration any skin problems, allergies, sensitivities, and/or medical conditions.
Your dogs’ veterinarian may want you to use a prescription shampoo, or maybe your pup is sensitive to certain ingredients.
Choose wisely so your pet doesn’t have to suffer the consequences.
For obvious reasons, the water temperature is always going to be important, too cold and your dog will be freezing, too hot and it burns his sensitive paw pads and skin.
Just like you would for a child, use your elbow to test the temperature before placing your pet into the tub.
Brush Made Specifically for Dog Fur
The texture and thickness of your dog’s fur will likely play a role in picking the best dog brush. Short, smooth coats will need softer bristles than the metal ones typically used on longer, thicker fur.
As tempting as it may be to get a cheap dog brush it is worth a few extra bucks to get a quality, well-made one. Cheap ones can break off and/or damage your dog’s sensitive scalp.
All dogs are capable of snapping out of fear or pain. When drying off Fido after his bath, you’ll need to avoid being rough. Also, try not to cover your dog’s head with the towel completely.
Covering his eyes so he cannot see will only make him edgier. The goal is to make him comfortable with the bathing process. They have Turquoize Super Shammy Dog Towel designed explicitly for dogs.
As we discussed earlier, some dogs are fearful of or just do not like, water, making bath time somewhat of a challenge. They have dry shampoos that are formulated for dogs and pet wipes, but we recommend using these products in between baths, and not in place of them.
Also, if your dog has a thicker coat, these alternatives may not work as well.
Love and Patience
As with any activity that requires your dogs’ cooperation, it will take a lot of love and patience. As the old saying goes, you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.
Getting frustrated is not going to do you, or your pooch, any good. By you being calm it will help your pup do the same.
How to Find the Right Bathing Products?
If you want to avoid any adverse reactions with bathing products, ie; dog shampoo, you need to do your research. Check out the reviews of a product, know what ingredients and/or chemicals you are exposing your fur baby too.
If your pup is known for allergies or has sensitive skin, you should talk to a professional before using different products.
Other Tips and Tricks
- Use treats! Dogs respond to rewards. If your pooch does well during bath time, give him a treat. This will teach him to behave during baths, as he will get a yummy snack afterward.
- If bathing in the bathtub, using a non-slip mat will make things a bit easier. Slipping and sliding will only freak out the dog and probably get you frustrated.
- Keep the bathing area as peaceful as possible. Avoid having a lot of people around or loud noises.
Popular Read: 18 Essential Tips to Care For Your Dog’s Teeth
Mistakes to Avoid
We’ve already covered many of the common mistakes people make but there are some others that you will want to avoid. We want Fido to associate bath time with good feelings, not fear or anxiety. Always remember to protect the pup’s eyes and ears as these are two of the most sensitive areas on your dog. Keep calm and he will too.
Using the Wrong Shampoo
Using a perfumed shampoo on your dog who has a severe skin allergy could end up in disaster with at least a probable vet visit in his future. It is best to avoid having an issue altogether. Read the labels and know your dog.
Always be completely aware of what ingredients you are exposing your best bud too. Oatmeal formulas with Coconut Lime are usually a safe option provided there are no serious allergies or medical conditions.
Rewarding too Soon
As we said, offering a reward for a job well done is a terrific way to get your dog to tolerate baths, but if you reward him too early it will have the opposite effect. He will know that he does not have to be a good boy in the tub to receive his snack. Wait until bath time is completely done before giving him a treat.
Getting Frustrated and Yelling
Yelling, scolding, and getting angry never really solves anything. Doing it while bathing your dog, or trying to, is only going to make the situation worse. Put yourself in his paws (hehe), this is a stressful situation and now his favorite human is mad and yelling.
This is going to leave a lasting impression and may lead to your dog associating bath time with negativity. Good luck getting him to take a bath after that.
When to Call in a Professional?
There are times when you just need an expert. It is ok to call in the professionals. There are even grooming services that will come to you. Being in the safety of his own home may alleviate some of his anxiousness.
If you are unable to bathe your pup safely, or Fido is seriously not having it, then, by all means, call someone to do it for you. That way he will hate them and not you!
Common Myths and Misconceptions About Dog Bathing
As with this entire article, bathing decisions should be decided on a case by case basis. Some general rules to abide by are that you should be bathing your dog at least once every month or two, obviously, your dog may require more frequent baths.
Also if you have an ocean-loving pup, saltwater is not suitable to clean your dog. In fact, it can dry out his skin so you should be bathing him more often.
Dogs Do Not Need Regular Baths
Whether your particular dog needs regular bathing is going to come down to their breed and environment. However, you should keep in mind, that unlike cats, dogs do need baths as they do not clean themselves.
Some dog breeds will need to be bathed more often than others, especially those with oily coats (or the mud divers!).
Dogs Get a Good Bath with a Hose
Your pup may enjoy playing in the hose but it does not do an adequate job removing all of the dirt and oils that build up on your dogs’ skin. So while it may be ok to hose your dog down to cool him or rinse him off.
A proper bath, one with the correct cleaning supplies, is a must. If you are using an outdoor dog bath, like this one, Booster Bath Elevated Pet Bathing, then a hose will be super useful.
Dogs Can Only Get Good Baths from the Groomers
Will a groomer do a good job bathing your dog? Of course, it is what they do after all. They are not the only ones who do a good job bathing them, though. Sometimes your dog will do better being in a familiar environment and the people he knows and loves.
If you are willing to put in the effort, you can get Fido just as clean as a professional groomer does.
Flea Shampoo Gets the Job Done Well Enough
Due to the chemicals in flea shampoo which is used to kill fleas and their eggs, it is not recommended to bathe your dog with flea shampoo alone. It can also dry out the skin so rotating with a regular dog shampoo is the best idea.
Keep in mind that flea treatments such as the nape of the neck drops or chewable, applied/given monthly, will do a much better job at repelling fleas and killing their eggs.
The Dog has to be Dried with a Dryer
I am not quite sure who came up with this wacky idea, but it does get asked often. No. You do not have to use a dryer to dry your dog. In fact, Fido just might prefer that you didn’t.
An absorbent towel will do the job just as well without making your dog nervous. Air drying is also an option but beware that many doggies like to roll in the dirt after their baths! You’ve been warned.
Bathing Removes All the Natural Oils from his Coat
Ah! Another popular myth. Bathing your pup will not remove all of the essential oils. So long as you are not over bathing him (like twice a day!). Here is another place that specially formulated shampoo comes in handy.
They are made for your dogs’ coat, so typically do not cause oil stripping. Put simply, do your research, and do not bathe your dog more often than needed.
Dogs Hate Baths
We all know cats hate baths, right? Yeah, that is not true, just check out the video bellow.
Most dogs don’t mind taking baths. Keep it a calm, relaxing, and rewarding experience and the majority will do just fine. Of course, you will get some pups that just hate baths no matter what you do. All down to personality (and stubbornness!)
Dog Bath Related FAQs
# Can you Use Human Shampoo On your Dog?
Simply put, no.
Using people shampoo on your dog can cause a whole host of issues like stripping the natural oils, skin irritation, and/or dry your pup’s skin out.
And, contrary to popular belief, using dish soap is not good for his skin either.
To be safe, stick to using only canine formulated shampoo.
# Can I Wash My Dog Once a Week?
Breed and coat type play a major part in how often you should be bathing your pet.
Some breeds have oily coats so could benefit from weekly or bi-weekly, baths, and some can go a month or two.
Some dogs play in the mud a lot.
It really is going to largely depend on your specific dog.
# Do Dogs Feel Better After a Bath?
Ok, I don’t speak woof, but I know that when my boys get done with their baths.
They go nuts!
They get this insane amount of energy and go zooming around the house, it is actually quite comical.
So, although I am no doctor, I would say yes, that in my experience, dogs do feel better after having a nice bath.
Ready for a smile?
Check out these guys go bonkers after bath time!
# Why Do Some Dogs Hate Baths?
There are many reasons why your pooch hates taking a bath.
He could have had a bad experience or it could just be down to preference.
This does not mean you should give up hope.
You can still get your furball to tolerate bathtime.
Take it slow and be sure to offer a yummy treat for a job well done!
# Can My Dog Get Sick After a Bath?
Yes, there are some dogs that get an upset stomach, it’s kind of like people who get seasick.
There are also dogs that feel the need to have a bowel movement immediately after bathtime, so he made need a walk directly after his bath.
As far as catching a cold, that is a myth.
Illness typically comes from a virus or bacterial infection.
Now there are rare cases of a dog getting pneumonia from being wet in colder temperatures, but as long as you use common sense Fido should be fine.
# There is Hair Everywhere! How Do I Control the Shedding?
Animals shed. It is a fact of pet life.
If your dog (or cat!) sheds a lot, brushing daily and especially before tub time, can help reduce the amount of shed fur.
They also have specialized thinning combs, that can thin out your dog’s thick undercoat.
This can also remove excess fur before it gets all over the carpet.
As Always, We Would Love to Hear from you
While researching this article, I was fascinated by the things that I learned. I too, fell victim to some of those myths. For instance, before I found out how harsh human shampoo can be to your dogs’ sensitive skin, the poor pooch was always inflamed. Which one piqued your interest?
I am always up for learning new things, if there is anything that I’ve missed, please feel free to leave them in the comments! It would be nice to chit chat with someone who isn’t just after my lunch or another game of fetch (I’m looking at you two slobbery pups!).
The bottom line is that bathing time should be a special bonding experience for both you, and your furry best bud. Doing it correctly can help ensure Fido not only permits you to bathe him, but he may also even begin to enjoy it.
Don’t forget the Scooby snacks! Happy bathing!
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