Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How Often Should I Give My Dog a Bath?

Credit: Mikumistock
In days gone by, dog shampoos were very harsh. They stripped the dog's coat of essential oils and dried out the dog's skin. Current dog grooming products are much milder and actually enhance the dog's skin and coat. Using a gentle dog wash allows pet owners to bathe their dog more frequently, even once every week and is actually beneficial to the dog's health.

Following a few simple dog-grooming steps will keep your dog clean and well groomed, putting a spring in his step and a smile on his face.

Always brush your dog before applying water or dog shampoo to prevent tangles and mats in the dog's fur. Thorough brushing also removes dead fur, flaking skin, and any sticks, leaves, or burrs that your dog might have picked up outside. If necessary, cut out any mats, especially under the dog's belly and behind the ears.

Apply vegetable oil or mineral oil to any sap, paint, gum, or other sticky substances that are stuck in the dog's fur 24 hours before bathing your dog. This will help wash it off more readily.

Choose a gentle dog shampoo with added skin conditioners and detanglers. Today's pet shampoos actually heal skin allergies, eliminate germs and bacteria, and repel fleas, ticks and biting insects. Tear free dog wash is also available at pet stores and makes your dog bath more enjoyable for both of you. If the dog likes the bath, she won't be afraid to get into the tub on the next bath day.

Gather up all the dog bathing supplies before putting your dog into the tub. Have towels, cotton balls, shampoo, a brush if you're using one, and a cup for rinsing, then you’re all set to go.
Fill the tub with warm water and put cotton balls into the dog's ears to prevent water from running into his ear canal. Now it's time to put the dog into the tub. Gently lift him into the tub if he won't jump in on his own. Talk in soothing tones to your dog to keep him calm and wet the dog's coat thoroughly with warm water. Make sure the water reaches all the way to the skin for a complete washing.

Apply dog soap to the fur and scrub until a lather forms. Wash the dog starting from the back to the front to prevent your dog from shaking too much, saving you from getting a shower, as well. A dog usually only shakes when her head and ears get wet.

After shampooing your dog’s whole body, rinse the coat with clean water. Be sure to rinse all the way to the dog's skin, removing all traces of dog shampoo. Any dog soap left in the coat dries and causes itchy, flaking skin.

Squeeze out any excess water by running your hand firmly along your dog's body. Cover him with a towel and gently pat dry. Avoid rubbing the dog's fur too much or mats and tangles will form. Use a hair dryer on low heat to completely dry your dog, if she isn't afraid of it. It is fine to let the dog's fur air dry. Take her for a walk if it's warm outside to help the fur dry quicker.

Source: American Kennel Club, New Puppy Handbook, 2009.

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