At Found By The Hound, we are very experienced in caring for our beloved canine friends - including the dreaded “BATH TIME” and whilst some dogs absolutely love a nice fresh bath, others will try to avoid it completely.
While the ritual may seem straightforward, there is plenty of information owners may need to be aware of to ensure a happy, healthy and clean dog.
Below we break down important information pertaining to the health and behaviours associated with bath time:
HEALTH + WELLNESS
The bathing of dogs often has inconsistencies. You will find some owners will regularly bathe their pooch, while others will allow their dogs to become very smelly before even considering it.
So, what is the deal when it comes to Bath time?
How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?
Did you know, you can bathe your dog too much?
Those of you who enjoy pampering your pooch on a regular weekly basis with a visit to the groomers, mobile dog groomer, or doggy day spa may be surprised to learn that this can be quite detrimental to the integrity of their coat and skin. While you may have thought that regular washing is good practice, it may cause skin to become dry and irritated.
However, if you are one of those owners who is guilty of long gaps between bath times for your dog, you may be doing your dog’s skin a favour.
While we understand that dogs get into all kinds of mischief that may require a clean-up, rinsing with plain water when possible is recommended. Ideally, you should not wash your dog with shampoo more than once a fortnight. Frequent shampooing can damage skin but rinsing with water is perfectly fine and can be done as often as necessary.
Why Is Frequent Shampooing Detrimental?
If you are washing your dog with shampoo more than once a fortnight, you could be doing more harm than good.
It may surprise you to learn that a dog’s skin is in fact rather sensitive, more so than humans. Human skin is much tougher as it is exposed to the daily elements. Our canine companion’s skin is covered in hair (sometimes layers upon layers of coat) which means their skin is protected and does not have regular exposure to the elements.
The epidermis of a dog is around 3-5 cells thick compared to humans who have at least 10-15 cell layers. In conjunction with their obvious protective layer (their coat), dogs also have a wonderful protective layer of oil that sits on the base of the hair and helps keep the skin protected.
After patting a dog, you may sometimes notice a greasy feeling to your hand afterwards.
When you wash your dog with shampoo and other similar products you strip away most of the protective layer of oil. Bathing dogs too often can result in your dog’s skin becoming sore, dry, flaky and in some extreme cases itchy, red, and prone to infections.
This natural oil is helpful in keeping your dog’s skin healthy.
What About A Dirty Dog?
Much to our dismay, some dogs just love mud!
To avoid mud traipsed throughout the home, across the carpet and over the new cream sofa, it is quite common to reach for the phone and schedule the next available grooming session!
Did you know that once mud dries on our dog’s coat, for many breeds, it will actually fall out on its own? It can also be brushed out (once dry). If the mess is a bit beyond brushing, rinsing with fresh water is perfectly acceptable.
For salty sea dogs, rinsing is often required to rid your dog’s coat of sand and salt. Salt can certainly leave a residue on your dog’s coat and skin. Again, feel free to rinse your dog with fresh water when necessary.
A quality shampoo designed for dogs is the best option for bath time. While many owners will admit to reaching for the Pantene out of sheer convenience, we urge you to refrain from using shampoos and conditioners designed for humans.
Human shampoos are not good for a dog’s skin. Many human shampoos are full of chemicals and active ingredients and may be harmful to your dog. As discussed before, their skin is much more sensitive than ours.
Further to this, if human shampoos were to get in our dog’s eyes this can sometimes result in irritation and a trip to the Vet.
Dogs also have a different level of skin pH to humans. All these factors make human shampoo a poor choice when it comes to bathing dogs.
If your dog is suffering from a skin condition your vet may recommend bathing more often with medicated shampoo, please follow your Vet’s direction. Medicated shampoo is to assist with a condition and instructions should be followed.
Note: This advice is based around a normal healthy dog with no skin conditions.
- Do not bath with shampoo more than once a fortnight when avoidable
- Use shampoo specifically safe for dogs
- Rinsing with fresh water is fine and can be done as often as necessary
- If you are concerned about your dog’s skin seek professional veterinary advice
BEHAVIOUR + BATHING
It is typical that for many dogs, bathing is not a preferred past time. Even for those that love the ocean or swims in the local lake, bath time is simply not something they enjoy. Of course, there are also plenty of dogs who love it! (Lucky you!)
Like everything with dogs, early exposure is the key for your dog to confidently manage certain situations in life. Bath time is no exception.
It is ideal to get dogs used to bathing at a young age but there is a method to this to ensure the experience does not become negative, creating lasting memories.
How To Get Your Dog Used To Water
Creating a positive association comes from a positive experience. It is imperative that when beginning bath time, it is done in a stress-free manner.
Before your dog can be comfortable with a comprehensive bathing routine, it will need to be comfortable with water. Begin with a small amount of water- just to ankle depth. If your dog is struggling to get away, use a collar and lead to assist you in keeping your dog there and wait until your dog starts to relax and become calm.
Avoid speaking to your dog during a struggle. While it may feel natural to want to soothe our pets in a bid to calm them down, you will be inadvertently encouraging your dog’s stress and panic. Praise your dog once it has calmed down. Reward your dog’s recovery rather than its reaction. Owners should also remain very calm during this experience to ensure you give your dog a calm base to rely on.
As they become more accustomed to small amounts of water and settle quicker, you can start to increase the depth of water. Once your dog is calm you can also start to gently pour small amounts of water down legs and back, always leaving the head to last. Again, hold the dog’s collar if necessary.
Some dogs may be wary of their head being touched, let alone when water is being poured over it. When desensitizing your dog to water, always leave the head until last. When you do come to rinsing a head make sure to gently lift their head up and pour the water avoiding the nose completely and ensuring water does not run inside their ears either. Do not rush this process; take your time and do it little by little. Desensitisation is a marathon not a sprint, take your time progressing from one stage to the next.
- Be calm when bathing your dog will feed off your energy levels
- Start small and work your up slowly at your dog’s pace
- If your dog starts to stress just wait for them to be calm down
- Only allow your dog to leave when calm
- Leave the head until last