We all know that 'doggy' smell, the one that seems to fill the air, haunting puppy snuggles, and morning sleep-ins when bath time has been let slide. For many of us, we bath our dogs for a pretty smell but are not sure of when, why or how to bath efficiently and effectively.
For some dogs, the thought of bathing is the equivalent of an introvert going to an ACDC concert. They know it is going to happen soon and by just watching you set up their anxiety levels increase by the minute.
Then there are those dogs that just want to try and eat the water spouting out of the hose... just like my special boy.
No matter how your dog responds to bathing, we want to make it as relaxed and as enjoyable as possible. The key to this is starting young... bathing from a young pup is the perfect way to desensitise them to the experience and help make it a bonding moment for both of you.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BATH YOUR DOG
Technically, you never need to bath your dog. Sounds unbelievable right, but did you know humans are the same. If you stopped washing your hair with shampoo and conditioner, it would take about 6 months for your scalp to balance out the oils and maintain its own healthy levels. Dogs are the same (unless they have a skin condition).
But, if you are anything like me and you enjoy the smell just as much as the feeling of clean hair, then this is never going to happen! For you or your dog.
The general recommendation is to bath at least every 3 months. Bathing more often is not a problem so long as you take into account the skin and hair of your dog.
Here are a few factors to determine your pups bathing schedule:
- The length of his hair - Does your dog have long hair that traps dirt and debris? Or short hair that does not hold onto his daily adventures?
- Activity Level - Is your dog the Indiana Jones of canines that makes it his daily mission to explore every dirty, muddy and smelly crevis of the dog park? Or, is he more of a gentle soul that doesn't partake in bum sniffing and carcass rolling? Either way, it is important to take into account if your dog is more indoors or outdoors and his activities on a daily basis.
- Allergies and Skin Conditions - For those lucky pet parents with a dog suffering from sensitive skin, the selection of Shampoo and Conditioner is just as important as the bathing frequency. Using a Shampoo and Conditioner specifically designed for sensitive skin is essential. Depending on the skin condition, more frequent or less frequent baths may be necessary.
At the end of the day, the decision as to how often you bath your dog is completely up to you. Recommendation states:
- No less than every 3 months
- Not necessary unless your dog has an odour or a skin condition
- Every week is too often as it strips the skin of its essential fatty lipid layer. Time is required in between baths to promote hair growth and allow the skin to provide its natural protection from the elements. Overbathing can also create irritation and dryness.
This infographic gives a good overview of when to maintains specific areas of your dog. It is, of course at your discretion for the timeframe.
BATHING STRESSED AND ANXIOUS DOGS
I once had a Jack Russel that would turn into a Steven Segal whenever it was bath time. No matter where I would bath him he would twist, turn and contort his body (and my fingers) to get out of the tub, bath or general area. At the time I did not know about Chill Out Powder and did not understand how to make the process enjoyable for him.
With the knowledge that I have today, I wish I could go back to ease his anxiety. But, even though I can't, you can start with your dog today.
Chill out is a natural calming and anti-anxiety powder. It can be given for acute or chronic anxiety, as a one-off or everyday use and is highly effective. It is a simple powder that you place into the food 15-30 minutes prior to the bath.
If you would like to change the bathtime outcome with positive reinforcement, then treats will be your best friend.
Here are some steps to make it more enjoyable for both of you:
- Prepare everything for the bath while your dog is distracted and is not sensing the next steps
- Do something that you both enjoy... A walk or cuddles for example. This will help your dog to relax.
- Keep your voice low, slow, calm and quiet. This is key and promotes calmness. Loud or high pitched noises cause excitement and will only exacerbate anxiety.
- Take your time and slowly walk or carry your dog to the bath.
- Using treats get him used to a small amount of water. You can increase this over time. If you plunge him into a full submersion you are sure to have a flying dog in your house.
- Talk or sing calmly and quietly throughout the bath, this will help to provide a distraction.
- Continue rewarding good behaviour with praise, pats and treats.
- If you do need a break, stop and just give some reassurance.
- Over time the process will become easier and more efficient.
TYPES OF SHAMPOO
Selecting the right grooming products for your dog can be overwhelming at the best of times, but add in skin sensitivities, hidden harsh chemicals, and imported and unregulated products and the decision becomes increasingly difficult.
Your dog has an average skin pH level of 7.5 (humans are 5.5), meaning it is more alkaline than ours. Adding into that, human shampoo generally has a pH level of 4.5 - 5.5 making it highly acidic for a dogs skin and likely to cause irritation.
Here is a chart displaying the varying pH levels, you can clearly see how gentle a dogs skin is at pH7.5.
Over time, acidic shampoo and grooming products strip away the hairs protective qualities. This ultimately removes essential oil from the coat and skin, resulting in not only in a dull coat but dry and irritated skin.
Our grooming products are highly beneficial for your dogs skin:
- Balanced alkaline pH level
- Puppy, Adult and Sensitive Skin options
- Sulphate and Paraben Free
- Plant-derived Organic ingredients
- No synthetic fragrances
- No Soal or silicones
- Not tested on animals
- No Mineral, Castor Oil or animal products
- No artificial colours
- No DPG, TEA, DEA or Phthalates
- Shampoo, Conditioner, Deodoriser, Dermal Syrum, Itch Spray options and more
- Australian Made and Owned
Remember that skin is our largest organ, and dogs are just the same. What you put on your dogs skin will seep through and enter the tissue and potentially the bloodstream.
It is key to optimal skin and coat health to use natural grooming products that have been developed to support your dogs skin and coat, rather than cover it to create an artificial glow and touch.
If your dog continues to need a 'boost' to his coat, I would recommend using ComfyCoat. It is a natural flavourless powder that is placed on the food daily. ComfyCoat contains Flaxseed Meal and Rosehip to support the skin with their abundance of vitamins, nutrients, minerals and antioxidants.
WHERE SHOULD YOU BATH YOUR DOG
Ah... where to bath your dog! Sounds like an oxymoron question doesn't it. Amazingly, it is not as silly as it sounds.
A few things to take into account:
- The type of season
- Your dogs anxieties
- Options available in your home
- Distractions and potential dangers in certain areas
If it is the middle of winter, obviously do not bath your dog outside. When the days start getting colder, my wolfhound gets bathed in the shower with me. Hi body tends to stick out one end of the shower due to his size, but this way I can bath him in warm water and dry him inside to prevent any chill.
When the weather is nice I always bath him outside on the grass with the hose... and he loves it! Well, he loves the aftermath of running around like a mad man trying to eat the water spraying from the hose nozzle.
There is no right or wrong place to bath your dog so long as the temperature is taken into account. If you have a small dog, the kitchen sink, a bucket or the laundry tub will suffice. If you have a dog larger than life like I do, then a place large enough for a human is needed.
BEST BATHING TECHNIQUE
Sounds pretty straight forward, wet the hair and lather on shampoo!
However, there are some techniques that can make bath time easier:
- Pre-prepare everything you will need. Once your hands are lathered up you do not want to be searching through shelves for the next product
- You can place a couple of cotton balls in your dogs ears to prevent water from going in. Or, just be careful with the hose if you are using one to not inject water in the ear canal, up the nose or mouth.
- If your dog has long hair, give it a brush prior to wetting it
- Soak your dog following his cues to ensure he is comfortable. For puppies, start with the feet and slowly move up the legs before soaking the body.
- Lather up the coat with Shampoo then rinse
- Rub in Conditioner and leave. Our Conditioner is designed as a leave-in to nourish the coat and provide a prolonged scented smell of essential oils
- Brush the coat
- Give a couple of sprays of Deodoriser. This can also be used between baths to freshen up the coat.
You can provide a licking patch to create distraction... this is made by applying some peanut butter or something similar to the wall or a surface close enough that your dog can lick it while being bathed.
Here is a great video showing a couple of bathing hacks to make it easier for you.
Remember to keep the process positive and playful. Use treat rewards to enhance the reward for the good behaviour.
Any feedback or questions that you would like to share, please reach out to me. I would love to hear from you.
Founder & Veterinary Nurse