Why wait for that Saturday bath?
Most dogs enjoy a bath as much as Calvin or Dennis the Menace. And just like these reluctantly clean cartoon kids, your furry friend will need a bath every so often. While we two-legged types tend to bathe more frequently, you can – believe it or not – hold your pup to a less rigorous schedule and still keep him clean and healthy!
How much is too much?
Unless your dog gets particularly dirty, a monthly bath is generally about right. Again, your dog’s level of outdoors activity, the texture of his hair, and skin condition In general, all play a part in how long you can – or should go – between baths. Even the most gentle of shampoos can strip your dog’s coat and skin of essential oils if overused. For most skin and hair types, frequent brushing can keep them clean enough to avoid overdoing the tub.
The right stuff
While it may be tempting to choose a perfumed “people” shampoo, remember that these shampoos are generally more harsh than those specifically for puppies and dogs. They’ll dry out their skin and coat, which can lead to flaking skin, itching and hot spots. And who wants a dog that smells like coconuts or lilac, anyway? If your pooch is the long-haired type, conditioners can smooth the detangling process. Same rules apply here. Use a product made just for dogs. And if you’re not sure which ones are right for your dog’s skin and or hair type, ask your groomer or veterinarian for advice.
No, seriously. Give your dog a good brushing BEFORE the bath. This will loosen up any junk that could be tangled up in their fur that likely won’t spring loose with soap and water anway. And speaking of tangles, it’s much easier to brush them loose through dry fur. Not al brushed are created equally. A brush for a short-haired breed isn’t the right tool for the job on a long-haired type – and vise versa. And easy does it! Dog brushes should have softer, well-spaced bristles designed for swiping through fur without scratching the skin. Choose wisely, Grasshopper.
Location, location, location
The old-fashioned, outdoor bath is a refreshing option during the summertime, and certainly it’s a lot simpler with much less clean-up. Can we get an “Amen!” from anyone who has ever had a wet, soapy “escapee” running around the house?! If you’ll bathe outside, remember that if the water is too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog. So if this party is headed indoors, the bathtub or shower is a great place to bathe (obviously), but consider the sink or a smaller tub to bathe a puppy or smaller dog. They’ll not only feel more secure, you’ll also use less water getting the job done!
Lather, rinse, repeat
If your dog is the long-haired type, you’ll want to take an extra moment to make sure their fur is good and wet before applying the shampoo. After their good and wet, work the shampoo into their fur, being careful to keep the soap out of their eyes. Don’t just lather-up their back and sides, either. Get that undercarriage, tail, legs, and paws, too! Then keep on rinsing until the water runs clear. This may take a while with long-haired breeds, but do the due diligence here, no matter the fur length. Soap left on your dog’s skin can cause dry patches and irritation.
Towel drying is your best bet, but long-haired types may need some extra attention here. Don’t forget that post-bath brushing and any conditioners you may need to apply, If towel drying won’t get the job done alone, remember to only use a “people” hair dryer if it has a “cool” setting, and if it doesn’t freak out your pup. And as much as they might be jonesing to get outdoors after all that activity, make sure they’re good and dry before headed out with wet fur on a chilly day.
Lastly, don’t forget to reward your dog for their cooperation! Now’s the perfect time to toss a little treat their way. Maybe a little something from Blue Ridge Naturals or Carolina Prime Pet, perhaps? (hint, hint!) Doing so will help them associate the experience with something positive. Maybe Mrs. Mitchell should promise Dennis a cookie, too!