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As many of us will know, bath time for your pooch can be a bit of a hassle for everyone involved. So it’s not unusual to think about how often one has to bathe one’s pet, as we don’t always have the time, space or the energy to do the grooming process properly within our own home or bathroom etc. Unfortunately, bathing your dog isn’t always as easy as it is to bathe another type of pet and the procedure can become quite complicated if your pet isn’t up for it.
There are a lot of factors to consider when washing your dog (but we’ll get into that a bit later in the article) and each dog is different. This means that the tips and ideas that I’ll be giving you in this article may vary slightly from dog to dog and from owner to owner. They should still be used as a basic guideline for you to get a general idea of whether you’re doing this correctly.
I, for one, have a rather large German Shepherd and because they’re quite a large breed, I focused on exposing him to the bathing process from a young age. Because of this, he became used to the smell of shampoos, the feeling of warm water, being in the bath and getting his head wet (something many dogs have an aversion too).
This has made the whole process a lot easier for me and it means I don’t have to spend money on expensive grooming routines at dog parlors. So if you’ve got a puppy or a younger dog, I would highly recommend getting them used to the bathing routine as early as possible. This will save the hassle and stress of having a dog that gets nervous and excited every time he/she smells shampoo. If you are struggling though, I’d recommend getting a second pair of hands in to help you out.
Finally, it’s important to remember that there’s no shame in using a professional groomer if you’re struggling to do this at home. That’s why they’re there! While it may be a little more expensive to send your pet off to a parlor, they do a great job and will often do a lot more than simply washing your dogs hair.
They’ll even trim their nails, condition your pooch’s coat and basically treat them to a day of luxury – it’s like a spa treatment, for your dog! But I’m here to show you how to do this at home, so before you book an appointment at your local doggie parlor, spare a moment of your time to read this article and you could save yourself a great deal of money in the future plus have a healthier, cleaner and happier dog – who wouldn't want that?
When Is It Time For Bathing Your Dog?
This differs from dog to dog, as certain breeds with longer or thicker coats will need to be washed more often. This is because dirt and oil tends to gather in the thick of their hair a lot quicker than those with shorter, thinner coats. It also depends on how active your dog is and where that activity takes place.
For instance, if your dog is outside on a regular basis, rolling around in things they shouldn’t be, they’ll need to be washed more often than a dog that spends most of it’s time lying on the couch or staying inside. The time in between washing (depending on the previous factors) can range from a few times a year to once a week.
However, the basic rule of thumb is that if you can smell your dog i.e. it has a foul or typically ‘dog-like’ odor, it’s probably a good time to wash them. Also, if your dog is shedding a lot, which tends to happen around the spring or summer time, it would be a good time to consider washing.
I always say that washing is not only beneficial to your pet and it’s health, but to you and your family too. A stinky dog is a dirty dog and a dirty dog is basically a factory for germs and bacteria. So if you want to avoid getting sick yourself, or having to fork out a large sum of money to take your dog to the vet, then I would recommend taking note of your it's cleanliness and bathing your dog when necessary.
Why Opt for A Natural Pet Shampoo?
The answer to this is similar to why I would recommend a natural shampoo or conditioner for your own personal use.
The fact of the matter is that many of the conventional shampoos and conditioners available on the market today are made with harmful chemical ingredients or additives. These include sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, petrochemical-based solvents and a variety of other chemicals that are difficult to pronounce let alone understand for anyone who doesn’t have a degree in chemistry.
A dog’s skin is much less acidic than ours, and they tend to have a pH balance of around 7, while as ours is usually below 5. This means that their skin is more neutral than ours and therefore requires a different kind of treatment than ours. While using your own shampoo on your dog should be fine for one wash (in case of an emergency), the reality is that they are not suitable for regular use.
Regular use of normal shampoo on your dog could worsen their shedding and lead to dry, irritable skin – something I’m sure you’d like to avoid as this irritation can cause the formation of sores and other skin issues for your pet.
Not to mention that exposing them to the harmful chemicals could even cause them to become sick – which will have a lot more knock-on effects than simply spending a little more money on a suitable, natural shampoo.
A natural shampoo that has been specifically designed for use on dogs is always the better option as it can help to keep your dog’s coat clean and shiny. It will also keep their skin hydrated and healthy and balance their natural oils whilst eliminating any foul odors.
Natural shampoo is generally free of the harmful chemicals that strip the natural oils from your dog’s coat and cause illness and disease with consistent use. Talk to your vet about finding a natural shampoo that’s right for your pet – and if they don’t recommend using a natural alternative, I’d recommend finding another vet!
Risk of Over Bathing Your Dog
While it may be true that a clean dog is a happy dog and a happy owner – as with anything in life, too much of a good thing may have the exact opposite effect. The same applies to washing your own hair and any hairdresser will tell you that using shampoo on a daily basis is bad for your hair – even a natural shampoo.
This is because when we use shampoo on our hair, we are removing or reducing the amount of natural oils and proteins that line the hair follicles and keep them moisturized and healthy. Without these elements, our hair becomes dry and brittle and is more liable to breakage or fallout.
With regards to your dog, even if you’re using a natural shampoo, it’s important to stick to a regular bathing routine and not get carried away with washing them. After all, they’re dogs – they’re bound to get dirty from time to time.
Risk of Under Bathing Your Dog
While it’s true that there are risks involved in over bathing your dog, there are even more risks involved with under bathing your dog. As we know, dogs tend to get dirty. Even if they’re inside, their coats tend to attract dirt and their body heat basically turns them into walking germ factories. The most notable of these is the Staphylococcus bacteria that naturally inhabits your dog’s skin. When you bathe your dog on a regular basis (say, once a month) you can keep this bacteria in check and under control.
When left unclean, the bacteria can spread over your dog’s coat and ultimately lead to serious skin infections and gastrointestinal diseases that can make both you and your dog really sick.
So under bathing is definitely not an option worth considering if your dog has a thick coat. The other issue that tends to come with under bathing your dog is the possible development of a yeast infection. This can lead to intense and localized feelings of itchiness which can cause your dog to scratch quite violently – sometimes even leading to wounds that can in turn become infected.
Other, more common issues associated with under bathing are worth noting here, such as flea, tick or mite infections. These can cause your pet a great deal of discomfort and can even spread through your home (especially if you have carpets) and affect you and your family's health too.
These parasites are often harbingers of disease causing bacteria and once you’ve been bitten, you’re liable to contract an illness too. So keeping your pet clean is not only a matter of the quality of it's health, but of your own as well.
I would recommend bathing your dog at least once a month (or every 2 months at most) regardless of breed or circumstance just to be on the safe side. The trouble of washing your pet is a lot less than having to get yourself (and your pet) treated for some kind of infection – not to mention, it's cheaper too.
Importance of Nail and Teeth Maintenance in Dogs
In previous years, domesticated dogs were often exposed to harder surfaces such as concrete and tar when they were walked, which helped to keep their nails short and manageable. However, in recent years, dog’s have increasingly been confined indoors or tend to walk on softer surfaces, such as a lawn or carpets inside your home etc.
While having long nails might be aesthetically unpleasing, the reality of the matter is that it is also impractical for the dog. Long nails can cause the dog pain as they’re sensitive and can even hurt you or your family. If the dog jumps on your child and scratches them with a long sharp nail – that’s a problem.
Besides that, if a dog’s nails are left to grow for too long, they can actually cause the joints of your dog’s foot to realign and make the foot look flattened and splayed. This can cause your dog a considerable amount of pain and lead to the development of a limp or make your pet irritable and even aggressive at times.
While it’s true that no one enjoys the process of clipping a dog’s nails – not you, the dog or the person you get to do it – the reality of the matter is that it has to be done. It's for the better of everyone involved, much like vaccines in humans for instance (but that’s a different article).
So if you’re not up for the task of clipping your pooch’s nails, I’d recommend sending them off to a grooming parlor. Thankfully it’s not something that needs to be done too often, but keeping them in check is an important part of owning a healthy, happy dog.
If you think we humans don’t like going to the dentist, dogs are 10 times less impressed by someone poking around in their mouth than we are. A dog’s mouth is a dirty place because dogs are prone to eating things they shouldn’t. On top of that, a dog cannot brush it’s teeth (although that would make an amazing meme) so germs and bacteria tend to gather in their mouth over time.
As with humans, a build of plaque and bacteria in the mouth can lead to tooth loss, gum infections and bad breath. On top of that, the bacteria that gathers in a dog’s mouth can even spread to the heart, liver and kidneys – causing more serious health issues in the long run.
It may not be possible for you to do much at home regarding the hygiene of your dog’s mouth. But, taking them for a ‘dental check-up’ once every 6-8 months or when you notice something’s wrong is imperative. This process often requires that your dog be put under anesthesia – so that they don’t bite. The teeth, gums and tongue are then examined and cleaned or treated as necessary.
While this treatment may be a costly process – it’s a lot cheaper than having to treat your dog for a serious disease or infection – which may be the result if neglecting to do so. Plus, having a dog with acute bad breath is not something you or your family should have to experience as it’s a notably bad odor and one worth avoiding.
— Dear Puppies (@dearpuppies) July 1, 2017
Owning a dog is a huge responsibility. Every parent has said this at some point in time to a young, wide-eyed child who eagerly want’s a puppy. While parents are quick to explain the nature of these responsibilities to a young child, the truth is that many dog owners are largely unaware of just how much effort it actually takes to successfully raise a healthy, happy dog.
I like to think of it as adopting a little human – with some leeway. This means that while a dog is not as expensive as raising a child and requires less energy, they still require a lot of the same treatments and care that a young child does.
Neglecting these responsibilities can have bad results for your pet’s health, so be sure to do the research properly before getting a dog as a pet and save yourself the trouble and costs of expensive vet’s bills further down the line. A healthy dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog makes for a happy owner. At least, that’s how I like to see it.