Bath Time! Proper Ways to Give Your Dog a Bath

You are sitting on the couch and you smell something stinky.  You look around, sniff your shirt and then you see it!  Your beautiful pooch, gazing in your eyes, tongue hanging out, waiting for a loving scratch on her ears.  Oh my – Bath Time!  

Whether you use a Self Service Dog Wash, your personal bath tub or garden hose, there is a proper way to give your dog a bath.  It sounds simple enough but there are many mistakes pet owners  make that causes more harm to your pet’s skin and coat.  Following these steps will prevent any unintentional problems.

Step One – Quality Products

Oatmeal is not always the answer.  There are many pet products on the market nowadays that treat various skin ailments and coat conditions.  You want to purchase a natural product unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian.  Pet store employees are very knowledgeable but local groomers will know best.  Contact a groomer in your area, describe your pet and they will be happy to guide you in the right direction.    

Step Two – Water Temperature

If you need to remember one piece of advice – this is it.  A dog’s body temperature runs from 101-102.5 degrees.  This requires a MUCH COOLER bath water!  Many times in my self-service dog wash, clients will ask us to raise the temperature of the water because they believe their pet is cold.  Our water is set to lukewarm to prevent pet owners from inadvertently ‘burning’ their pets.  Look at it this way – imagine running a race and then coming home to take a shower.  Your water would be pretty cool, right?  That is how hot your dog body temperature is all the time.  

Bathing Shot

Step Three – Make Sure You Rinse Thoroughly

Now that you have the right shampoo and conditioner and the water is set to the right temperature, you are ready to wash your pup.  This is the fun part where you get your pooch nice and sudsy.  Watch those eyes!  Shampoo in the eyes can lead to ulcers!  If you get any product in those sensitive eyes – flush with water immediately and contact your vet.  Another important thing to note is to rinse thoroughly!  Any shampoo left on the coat will lead to intense itching, chewing, possible hair loss and open sores.  Typical spots that shampoo accumulates are the underbelly, private area, armpits and inside back legs.  Make sure these areas are free of soap.

Step Four – Drying

If you have a long-haired dog or one with a thick undercoat, please dry them with a towel and hair dryer as best you can.  Dampness that sits on the skin too long can lead to hot spots.  This is a painful sore that your dog will lick and chew at.  Hot spots will require medicine and a trip to the vet so avoid this expense and pain by drying your pets coat.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Pooch?

This question has many possible answers.  In my professional opinion, bathing once a month is best for furry pets (Shih Tzu’s, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers) and once a quarter for extremely short-haired dogs (Boxers & Greyhounds).  Bathing too often will remove the oils that your pet produces to protect their skin and dry out their coats.  If your pet gets dirty in spots. like feet, face or fanny, there are waterless shampoos on the market to spot clean those areas that do not require you to wash the whole dog.  If your pet has a skin condition or seasonal allergies, start off washing weekly then extend it to every other week and then monthly once the condition clears up.

Safety in Bathing

Be careful when you bathe your pet.  Have everything at arms reach when you start and please be conscious of slipping on wet floors.  Make sure your pup is safely secured in the tub or sink so they do not jump out and injure themselves (and drip soapy water throughout your home!)  Many pets have sprained a leg from bath time accidents.  So have many pet owners.  Bathing should be fun and as long as you prepare for accidents before they occur, it can be a great bonding experience for you and your fur-baby.

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