Everyone who has dogs loves them just like family members – we all want the best of the best for them and go to lengths to keep them happy and healthy. However, when the dreaded bath time is looming on the horizon, we tend to procrastinate. It is true that, depending on the breed of your dog (and whether he or she enjoys this process), bathing can be quite a tiring task, and not all of us are in a position to pay regular visits to the dog salon, however, bathing your dog regularly is an essential part of taking care of them. After all, dogs are notorious for loving all things dirty, and you don’t want all of that inside your home. A lot of questions might be in your mind right now, such as how often you should do this, what products you should use, and generally, how you should go about it. To help you out, here is a guide that will tell you how to properly bathe your dog at home.
So, how often should you bathe your dog?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is more complex than you would like. While your dog naturally grooms themselves, you still need to give them a bath occasionally to help this process. However, doing it too often is not a good idea. Bathing your dog too often can irritate their skin and hair follicles, and even increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections, so you certainly want to avoid that. Many people make a mistake here but keep in mind that the only time you need to bathe your dog is when they smell or when they are dirty.
If you keep your dog indoors most of the time, you probably won’t need to bathe them more than a few times a year, but if your dog is really mischievous and rolls around in all kinds of things outdoors, you’ll need to do it more often. But your dog’s breed, coat type and health also play a role in this answer. Some long-haired breeds need special attention when bathing, some breeds such as Basset Hounds have oilier coats, and some dogs have skin conditions that will require more frequent bathing with the right, prescribed products. So, keep all of this in mind when making a decision about your pooch.
What you will need
To properly bathe and groom your dog, you’re going to need more than just a bottle of shampoo and an old towel. But indeed, those are the first things that you should get. Find at least two good, absorbent towels and go shopping for dog shampoo. Needless to say, you mustn’t use human shampoo on your dog, as dogs have a different skin pH balance from humans. Dog shampoo without soap and made with few ingredients is the best.
If you are planning to bathe your dog in your bathroom, the best thing is to put the rubber shower mats in the bathtub and prevent your pet from slipping, as well as to get some kind of apron for you (or clothes that you don’t mind getting wet.) If you are lucky enough to have a backyard where you can bathe your dogs, you can use your garden hose at low pressure if the water temperature is not too cold or hot. You will also need to have your dog’s brushes at hand. Needless to say, both the shampoo and the brushes should be purchased with the kind of coat your dog has in mind and their health concerns, if there are any.
How to prepare
Once you have everything that you need laid out, it’s time to prepare for the bath. Before getting all wet, you should brush your dog well and remove all the loose hairs and tangles from their fur. This is especially important if your dog has a double coat or if their coat is simply thick. If you are concerned about shampoo getting in your puppy’s eyes, you can use artificial tears ointment that is going to protect their eyes. You will also need to protect their ears to prevent infection, so you should put a cotton ball in each of your dog’s ears before bathing.
It is also advised that if you want to get your puppy’s nails cut, you should do it before giving them a bath. However, cutting dogs’ nails is not as easy as it sounds, as you have to pay attention to the length not to cause health complications. So, unless you know what you are doing, it is advised that you have your vet or groomer do this step.
Get down to it
It’s important to ease your dog into what’s about to come in order to make it easier for both of you. If your dog is not trained for baths yet, you should start practicing as soon as possible. Get them acquainted with all the equipment involved, the sound of the water, and teach them how to get in and out of the tub. Use toys and treats in the process and they will accept it easier. Once both of you are ready, start the water at a low pressure not to startle the dog.
Wet their coat thoroughly – this can take a while if your dog has long fur but bear with it. Avoid putting water on your dog’s head. Then, it’s time to add the shampoo and lather up by massaging it into their fur all the way. You should be careful not to get it on their head and face as much as you can. If you really need to clean their face, use a damp cloth or towel to wipe it. Leave on the shampoo for as long as the instructions on the bottle say you should, and then it’s time to rinse it out thoroughly. You can also apply a conditioner but this is completely optional.
Once you’ve rinsed out the shampoo, prepare to get wet as chances are, your dog’s first instinct is going to be to shake off the excess water. After that, take the towel you have prepared and dab it on your pup (for long-haired breeds, it’s not recommended to rub it in order to avoid matting). Try your best to prevent your dog from running out right away to roll in the dirt and destroy your hard work. It’s best to keep them inside until they are completely dry.
Your best bet is letting your dog air dry, but if the circumstances don’t allow it, you can use a hairdryer with caution. If you are going to use a hairdryer, make sure the setting is on a low temperature as you don’t want to burn your puppy. Don’t point the blow dryer at their face or ears. There are special blow dryers made just for dogs that operate on room temperature, so if you have the extra money, it can come in handy. Otherwise, using a regular hairdryer can be risky.
Now you are almost done with bathing your dog. Remove the cotton balls from their ears and gently clean excess ear wax from their ears. Take your brush and brush through their coat, once again, to prevent matting which can lead to all kinds of health complications. Once everything is finished, don’t forget to reward your dog for their good behavior with praise, plenty of treats and playtime.
Bathing a dog is no small ordeal, and the bigger the dog the bigger this task becomes. Different breeds have different needs too and you have to do your own homework before jumping in as well. In addition, as you can see, it can take quite some time to do it properly, so if you believe you simply cannot fit this into your schedule, instead of doing it less than adequately, your best option is finding a reliable dog salon. That way, your pet can be clean and healthy.