Bathing Tips - Dog Grooming

Time for a Dog Bath? Dog Bathing Tips for You and Your Dog

– by Teresa James


Cleanliness and proper grooming can be very important to the continued good health of our beloved pets. But bathing our puppy or adult dog can often prove to be a challenge. There are many questions, myths and opinions floating around when discussing the best care for different dog types and temperaments. Check out these dog bathing tips to get some great ideas so you’ll be prepared for your next dog bath and grooming session.

How often should you bath your dog?

How often your pet will need a dog bath will depend on the breed and what type of activities the dog is involved in. It’s best to bathe your dog only when your dog is really dirty. Just use your nose — that tell tale doggy smell will let you know it’s time for a bath.

If a dog is bathed too often the skin will be stripped of its natural, protective oils. This will result in dry itchy skin, which will cause your dog to scratch, further irritating the already sensitive skin. If you need to bathe your dog more frequently make sure to use a pet shampoo that will also moisturize your dog’s skin. You may also want to follow up with an after bath pet coat conditioner specifically formulated for dry skin.

Where’s the best place to bath your dog?

In warm weather you can bathe your dog outside. Pick a place that will not turn to mud when it gets wet. It’s a good idea a have a washtub large enough for your dog to stand up in and fill it with a few inches of water. Water straight from a garden hose may start off warm, but usually gets cold very fast. If your dog starts to resist and shiver, as the water gets colder, you may want to consider another option.

Many pet owners have overcome this problem by purchasing a raised dog bath. This convenient, back-saving dog bath is often used with a water temperature mixer valve assembly that completely solves this problem. With the proper equipment set up you’ll be able to save your back and control the water temperature of your dog’s bath. Some temperature mixer valve assemblies hook up to your existing washing machine water supply. At bath time just connect an ordinary garden hose to the valve assembly and run it outside to the bathing area. This convenient type of back-saving dog bath can even be used for bathing your dog inside.

If you choose to bathe your dog inside, regulating the water temperature shouldn’t be a problem. But deciding where to bathe your dog might be. Small dogs and puppies can usually be bathed easily in a sink or a washtub. For bigger dogs you will need something bigger like a bathtub or a large shower stall. And of course, the bigger your dog is the bigger the potential hassles.

Are you tired of chasing and wrestling with your dog at bath time?

Many dog owners solve this problem by purchasing a raised dog bath. An ergonomically designed dog grooming bathing tub elevates your dog to a level that’s comfortable for you and keeps your dog securely contained, taking the hassle out of washing your dog. You’ll get the job done in half the time, save your back and stay dryer. The raised dog bath that is available in most pet shops and online stores will also save your dog stress at bath time. No more slipping and sliding. Your dog will really feel secure standing on the padded non-slip surface. This type of raised dog bath has been recommended by Dog World Magazine in their “Notable Products for the New Millennium”.

Does your dog tend to get away from you during a bath?

Bathing your dog is a challenging, but essential, part of dog grooming. It’s funny how your dog will cleverly evade you when you try to get him into a dog bath, but will be just as determined to get past you when you don’t want him to jump into the water at the beach.

If you’re washing your dog in a room with a door make sure to close it so that your dog will not see an escape route or get very far if he prematurely gets out of the bath. This way you’ll have an easier time getting him back in the tub to finish the job. It can be a challenge bathing a dog that’s wiggling around but the challenge gets a little tougher when your dog is an escape artist. If your dog takes any opportunity to get away from you at bath time you may want to consider restraining your dog.

Restraints are used during bath time to avoid injury to you as well as your pet. Some pet bathing tubs come with restraints included. With these your dog will be safely and securely restrained and you will be able to give your dog a quick and hassle-free bath.

Is your dog slipping and sliding in the bath?

Slipping and sliding can be the most stressful part of bath time for a dog. Put a rubber mat down on the bottom surface of the tub to prevent your dog from sliding and getting hurt. A sure-footed dog will be less resistant and much more at ease during bath time.

Things to have on hand at bath time:

Raised Dog Bath — This is a fantastic idea for a dog bath. It’s ergonomically designed for both you and your dog’s comfort. Your local pet groomer is likely to have just such a bathing station set up in their shop. If you’re thinking about buying a tub or basin to bathe your dog in, ask them if you can check out their tub set up. If you have the room or more than one dog, you may find it worthwhile.

Pet Shower or Plastic Pitcher — A Pet Shower is great, but if that’s not possible make sure you have a large plastic pitcher for wetting and rinsing your dog.

Drain Screen — Make sure to protect your plumbing from hair clogs with a simple to use drain screen.

Cotton Balls — Can be placed in each ear to prevent water from running into your dog’s ears.

Pet Shampoos — There are many different pet shampoos each formulated to work on problems such as dry itchy skin, inflamed or dry scaling skin, fleas & ticks, doggy odor, skunk odor, abnormal shedding, quick rinsing for dogs that don’t like to take a bath, whiteners for white coats, color intensifiers for dark coats, and coat shine to bring out the natural luster of your dog’s coat. You may want to try a hypoallergenic shampoo/conditioner that will gently clean and conditioner your pet’s coat in one step.

Coat Conditioners — There are many pet coat conditioners that will help manage and or improve the appearance of your dog’s coat like crème rinse, grooming spray, after bath dry skin treatment, and herbal mist conditioner that will soothe, re-moisturize and detangle your pet’s coat.

Pet Drying Towels — If you want to get your dog dry faster check out a specialty pet-drying towel. Some are available that will absorb 10 times its own weight in water!

Eye Protective Gel — Are you concerned about shampoo making its way into your dog’s eyes? Just put a little protective eye gel in each eye just before bath time to prevent burning and redness.

Ear Drying Solution — If your dog is prone to ear infections make sure you have some ear-drying solution on hand. Using an ear drying solution will assure that the ear canal is nice and dry after bathing.

Brushes/Combs — There are many different styles and sizes of traditional dog grooming brushes and combs that you can choose from. If your dog has very sensitive or irritated skin you may want to consider a higher quality brush that will not scratch the skin or aggravate existing skin irritations.

Pet Dryer — If your dog has a thick, long or double coat it’s best to use a pet dryer. Unlike “people” hair dryers, pet dryers are designed to use less heat and more air volume so they quickly and safely dry a dog without damaging the coat or burning the skin. If you use a “people” blow dryer be very careful since you can easily burn your pet!

Plastic Bucket — It’s very convenient to have a waterproof container that will keep your dog grooming supplies close at hand.

Remember to get all your dog grooming supplies ready before hand and let your dog sniff everything.

Why you should brush your dog thoroughly before bathing:

Depending on the type of coat your dog has you may need an assortment of grooming brushes and combs to properly care for your dog’s skin and coat. Before you bathe your dog it’s always a good idea to brush your pet’s coat thoroughly to remove any tangles or matted areas as well as any other foreign debris. Many dog owners know first hand that if they don’t spend time removing old, established tangles and mats before bathing many times they just get worse. If your dog’s coat tangles and mats easily make sure to look for shampoos and conditioners that are formulated to prevent and break up mats.

If your dog has gotten into any sticky or gooey substances like tar or gum never use commercial solvents or industrial cleaners on your dog’s coat. Many of these are toxic to your dog. Try dissolving these substances with mineral oil. If you’re unable to remove something from your dog’s coat carefully snip away the affected area. It’s always best to sacrifice some hair or fur since it will grow back rather than risk damage to the skin. Brush your dog thoroughly between baths, daily if you can, to distribute the natural oils and remove tangles, mats and foreign matter.

Choosing the best pet shampoo/coat conditioner for your dog:

Always use a pet shampoo that is specially formulated for the pH of your pet’s skin. Never use “people” shampoos since our skin pH level is much more acidic than our canine friends and could irritate your dog’s skin.

Start bathing your dog at the beginning: Your Dog’s Head

A popular bathing technique is to start at your dog’s head and work your way toward the tail. This is especially the case if it’s possible that fleas are present. If you know that your dog has fleas you may want to use a flea & tick shampoo. Starting at your dog’s head forces any fleas to gather away from your dog’s face, eyes, and ears. It is much easier to dunk the rear of your dog into the tub than your dog’s face. As you may imagine, your dog is likely to be much more cooperative by following this simple bathing technique.

Let your dog get used to the sound of the running water. If you’re using a tub or basin fill it with a few inches of warm water. Then get your dog into the bath. If you’re using a raised dog bath just secure your dog into the dog bath. Starting from the head thoroughly wet your dog with warm water. You can use a plastic pitcher or a spray nozzle for this task. If you’re using a spray nozzle make sure the spray is not too strong. Never spray water directly onto your dog’s face or genitals.

Apply a pet shampoo/coat conditioner

Follow the instructions on the package. Work it in from the head to the tail. Be sure to get all those nooks and crannies; like the rectum, between the toes, behind the ears and under the chin. Be careful not the get shampoo in your dog’s eyes. If this is a concern you can protect your dog’s eyes by putting some protective eye gel in each eye just before getting your dog into the bath.

Rinse your dog thoroughly with warm water

Shampoo residue can cause skin irritations so make sure you give your dog’s coat a thorough rinsing. Towel drying your pet’s coat in the dog bath will remove some of the excess water before you take your dog out of the tub. Some breeds should never be rubbed, only patted, since their coats easily tangle. Dog owners often prefer to use dedicated pet towels. There are pet drying towels available that will absorb 10 times their weight in water. These are very handy towels to use for a dog bath and can also be used any time your pet gets wet.

Although many dog owners think of bathing their dog as a challenge, with the right approach, supplies, and equipment, you can get through it relatively unscathed. And don’t forget to reward your dog’s good behavior in the bathing process with treats and plenty of loving kindness.

Reprinted with permission.

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