Bathing Your Dog

I am frequently asked instructions on how to bath our pets. In dogs, there are many different answers to this question depending on the age, breed, type and length of coat, condition of the skin, etc. But I want to offer some tips that are generally true across all the different breeds:

- It is extremely important to use a pet shampoo, not a product made for people. While there are some products made for people that are very mild (such as baby shampoos), there is still a difference in the "pH" of the products (this is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the products. If you are still confused, find a 10-year-old. They can answer these questions). The pH of dog shampoo is two points different than people shampoo, which is a huge difference. Using products made for people can really dry out a dog's coat.

- Bathe less frequently not more. On average, once a month is plenty. Many breeds can go much longer than that. My own dog goes about three months in between baths. Ask your veterinarian or groomer what the correct interval would be for your type of dog.

- Brush them before AND after you bathe them. Brushing before makes the brushing afterward part much easier.

- Place some cotton balls in their ears before the bath. Water in the ears is one of the most common causes of ear infections. Please remember to remove these once you are done with the bath!

- Keep the shampoo out of their eyes. You can use a bland eye ointment (Paralube or similar product) that can be purchased in most pet shops prior to the bath. If you do get soap in the eyes, simply wash with warm water or saline such as you would use if you wear contact lenses.

- Rinse thoroughly. It is easy to leave some shampoo residue, especially between their toes. This will cause them to lick and irritate their skin.

- Be sure they are dried thoroughly. Dogs love to run and roll after a bath. If they are still wet, they will pick up all kinds of things from the ground and ruin all the work you have just completed.

So just follow these simple rules and your bathing experience can be less stressful.

Dr. Larry

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