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Bathing your dog: how often and what is best to bathe your dog in?

Bathing the dog

Bathing the dog is a very debatable matter.

Many quadrupeds, especially representatives of small and miniature breeds, go for a walk only to take care of their physiological needs, sleep in their caretakers' bed, participate in meals, generously distribute "kisses " to the whole family.

Not to mention the fact that a small dog with an intensely developed coat acts as a sweeping brush - it can attract dust from the corners of the apartment.

It is logical that the guardians want to take care of the dog's hygiene so that all the activities mentioned above do not arouse disgust or terror.

Working in an office that deals mainly with dogs and cats, I often hear the question:

"Doctor, how often can I bathe my dog? "

Most often I answer then:

"As often as needed. "

There is no universal answer to this question, every dog ​​is different, and has different tastes and preferences. But let's start from the beginning.

  • Dog skin
  • Why you should bathe your dog?
  • Do dogs like bathing?
  • When to bathe the whole dog, or just a little?
  • How often to bathe your dog?
  • When you shouldn't bathe your dog?
  • Bathing the dog
    • Dog shampoo
    • Dog hair conditioner
    • How the dog's bath should be done?
    • Mistakes made while bathing a dog

Dog skin

A dog's skin is made of three layers:

  • the epidermis lies the most externally,
  • below the dermis,
  • the bottom layer is the basal layer.

There are five layers in the epidermis. From the outermost layer, these are the layer:

  • horny,
  • intermediate,
  • grainy,
  • spiky,
  • basal.

The stratum corneum is made up of dead cells that peel off.

All its products are embedded in the dermis:

  • hair,
  • whiskers,
  • claws,
  • sebaceous glands,
  • sweat glands.

In dogs, sweat glands are found only on the fingertips.

The opening of the sebaceous glands is in the hair follicles, all over the body.

The skin is a very important organ responsible, among others, for:

  • regulation of body temperature and circulation,
  • sensory functions,
  • endocrine secretion (histamine and heparin),
  • active protection against external forces,
  • fats are stored in the subcutaneous tissue.

Having some information about the importance of an organ of the skin, it is reasonable that its care should be based on gentle and delicate preparations.

Such an important organ cannot be exposed to excessive drying or irritation.

Why you should bathe your dog?

Why you should bathe your dog?

The basic tasks of bathing are to remove dead skin, dead hair and dirt from the skin.

In addition, it is important to use a preparation that has a healing, bactericidal and fungicidal effect.

The secretion of the sebaceous glands on the hair is quite sticky, it easily attracts dirt, dust and other impurities. This creates a great environment for bacteria, fungi and mites to grow.

The problem is exacerbated in breeds that have wrinkled skin, such as:

  • shar-pei,
  • boxer,
  • English bulldog,
  • French Bulldog.

In skin folds, heat and moisture combined with dirt and sebum create great conditions for the development of microorganisms.

A separate matter is bringing pollution, dust and dirt into the apartment.

Many caregivers wash their feet after each walk. Protective footwear for dogs is also becoming more and more popular.

Winter is a special time when it comes to keeping paw hygiene.

Please take a look at your winter footwear - covered with mud and road salt, which destroys them and eats away at your boots. It has the same effect on the delicate pads of your dogs' paws, so you should have your dog's paws after each walk.

Warm water and a protective ointment applied after cleaning the pads can effectively reduce the risk of damage to the epidermis.

Do dogs like bathing?

Do dogs like bathing?

Do all dogs like bathing?

Not necessarily.

There are certain breeds that are described as water dogs, such as:

  • barbet,
  • american water spaniel,
  • Friesian Water Dog,
  • spanish water dog,
  • Irish Water Spaniel,
  • or the Portuguese Water Dog.

Golden Retrievers or Newfoundlands are usually characterized by great love for even the smallest puddle.

Bathing these dogs shouldn't be a problem.

However, these are very individual preferences and probably even among these breeds there will be representatives who do not like water.

When to bathe the whole dog, or just a little?

Dog in the bath

Bathing the whole dog should be done then, when there is an obvious indication for it.

Examples include the formation of an intensely smelling substance or mud.

Contrary to the cat, the dog does not clean its hair itself, so if the guardian sees that it is dirty, dusty and covered with a powdery coating (remnants of dried secretion of sebaceous glands) - it is worth taking a bath of the whole dog.

If only the paws or a small part of the hair get dirty, it is worth washing only the dirty part of your pet.

Also in the case of diarrhea, intense heat, discharge from the eyes, it is worth using local cleaning rather than a complete bath.

How often to bathe your dog?

How often to bathe your dog?

It depends on many factors.

Longhair dogs, miniature breeds, can be bathed every two weeks, using preparations that prevent felting.

Short-haired dogs can be bathed once a month.

As for wirehaired breeds - a bath is enough for them once every two months or even less.

It is believed that dogs living in backyards should be bathed at least once a year in spring.

However, I think it is worth doing such a bath three to four times a year and as needed.

Of course, all these suggestions do not apply to show dogs - they are often bathed once a week to keep their coat in the best condition and looking beautiful.

The time intervals I have provided apply to care baths, in the event of heavy soiling - the bath can be performed more often.

A separate issue is the bathing of dogs of naked breeds, such as chinese crested dog naked or too Peruvian naked dog.

Their skin is devoid of the natural protective barrier of the hair coat. All impurities collect on the skin can cause:

  • irritation,
  • clogging of pores,
  • formation of blackheads.

Such dogs should be bathed more often than breeds with hair, and in the periods between baths - wipe the dog with a damp towel or special wipes to remove contamination on a regular basis.

Regular use is very important in these breeds moisturizing cosmetics.

When you shouldn't bathe your dog?

When you shouldn't wash your dog?

Baths are not recommended if they are present on the dog's skin wounds, cuts, injury (unless it is a therapeutic bath, recommended by the attending physician).

You should also not bathe your dog immediately after surgery.

You should first heal the wounds, then bathe your pet after it has fully healed.

It is worth postponing the bath if the dog lives in the yard and the temperatures are below zero.

Puppies that are under the care of their mother should not be bathed either - she knows best how to take care of their hygiene.

Bathing the dog

Bathing the dog

Before starting the bath, it is worth thoroughly combing the entire hair, preferably using a few brushes - for the top coat and undercoat.

Remove or comb out any tangles.

It is worth cutting the claws and cleaning the anal glands.

Prepare everything you need for your bath so that the whole process runs as smoothly as possible.

It is therefore worth having a dog shampoo, conditioner, towels, a dryer, a towel to put in the bathtub (or an anti-skid mat).

If we know that our pet may not react with enthusiasm to a bath, it is worth asking another person for help and having a muzzle ready.

It is worth getting your dog used to bathing. It's a good idea to let your dog know about the bathroom, bathtub or paddling pool.

If he enters the bathtub himself - please give him a treat, praise him or reward him in some other way.

You should also get your dog used to the touch in every area and with the movements that will be made during the bath.

Practicing the commands "sit " and "stand " is also very useful.

The sound of the pouring water may seem pleasant, but many pets are simply afraid of it. The dog also needs to get used to this.

The bath must not take place in an atmosphere of stress.

Please do not shout at the dog, but talk to him - patiently and in a gentle tone. You should not make sudden movements, pull and jerk the pet.

The worst idea I have come across is to throw the dog into the tub filled with water - the animal can get very scared then.

Dog shampoo

Above all only preparations dedicated to dogs should be used.

Preparations dedicated to people:

  • have an inadequate pH,
  • can cause the skin to become excessively dry,
  • can contribute to irritation and damage to the epidermis.

There are many cleansing preparations with different active ingredients. How to choose the best one?

First of all, it is worth paying attention to the composition of the preparation, especially the active substances.

Additionally, you should consider what shampoo your pet needs?

If this is your pet's first bath, it is worth choosing a hypoallergenic dog shampoo.

It is very gentle, does not irritate the skin, and often has an addition of soothing substances.

If we already know that our dog has dry skin prone to irritation, it is worth choosing a moisturizing shampoo, containing for example panthenol, allantoin.

In the case of seborrhea, sticky, oily hair, it is worth using a preparation that will contain benzoyl peroxide and keratolytic substances.

In the case of an ectoparasite infestation, a regular skin care shampoo will not help - you should get an anti-flea preparation.

If your dog has diagnosed dermatological problems, mycosis or a generalized bacterial skin infection, ask your doctor about the best care preparation.

Dog hair conditioner

Dog hair conditioners have different functions.

They facilitate detangling, provide shine, prevent static electricity, moisturize and strengthen the hair.

It is also worth reading the composition here and considering what effect we expect.

It is important to use a moisturizing conditioner after an antiparasitic bath - shampoos of this type often dry the skin and cause static in the hair after bathing.

How the dog's bath should be done?

  1. First of all, it is best to conduct it after an evening walk, so that the warm dog does not have to go outside anymore.
  2. The bathtub or shower should be lined with a towel or non-slip mat. With stable ground under the feet, the dog will feel more confident and will be less afraid of all activities.
  3. Set the water temperature so that it is not too hot - in our opinion, lukewarm water, with a temperature of about 35-36 degrees Celsius, will be the best.
  4. When soaking for the first time, be careful not to splash your pet's head with water. Some doctors recommend putting tampons made of cotton wool or gauze in the dog's ears, but I do not recommend it - it is not comfortable for the dog, it may become stressed by the presence of foreign objects in the ears.
  5. When we have the right water temperature set, we thoroughly soak the dog. To prevent the water from flaking off the dog, place a hand on the dog's neck and gently press down on it.
  6. After getting wet, we apply the dog's shampoo and thoroughly massage the entire body, excluding the head, of course, and rinse thoroughly - dirt, dust and dead skin have been removed from our pet's body.
  7. Then apply a layer of shampoo again and massage thoroughly until you get a thick foam. Now the active substances in the preparation have a chance to work, so the foam should be left on the pet's skin for a few minutes. It is considered that 15 minutes this is the optimal time.
  8. After this time, rinse the entire hair very thoroughly - no shampoo residues can be left behind.
  9. After rinsing, use an appropriate conditioner - depending on the manufacturer's recommendations, rinse it with plenty of water or leave it to dry.
  10. Start drying your dog by carefully squeezing out the excess water. Then we use towels - we do not scrub the dog with a cloth, but squeeze out the moisture.
  11. After drying with towels, it is worth using a hair dryer, preferably with a cool air flow. The hot air of the dryer can be very unpleasant for the dog. We use the dryer from a distance so as not to burn your pet.
  12. After thorough drying, the coat should be thoroughly combed again.

When it comes to cleaning the head area, it should be done carefully and gently.

It makes sense to use a wet towel rather than soaking your head. As with the entire body of a dog, you should thoroughly comb the coat before cleaning and then wash it.

Bathing in the garden or in the yard is often the only method of grooming large breed dogs.

It should always be carried out on warm days, preferably in the morning, so that the dog can dry during the warmest part of the day.

You should follow all the rules of bathing, i.e. soaking twice, applying shampoo twice and using a conditioner suitable for your pet.

For short-haired breeds, you may not use the dryer, but you should always at least wipe the dog with a towel.

Healing baths are a great therapeutic tool in the case of many skin diseases.

They are irreplaceable in the fight against:

  • skin mycosis,
  • strong bacterial conditions,
  • dry or wet seborrhea.

They should only be prescribed by a veterinarian, please do not use them without a diagnosis.

Mistakes made while bathing a dog

  • Bathing without the dog getting used to the water first. The dog is then often scared, it does not know what is going on.
  • Another mistake is throwing the dog into a water reservoir - sudden contact with previously unknown water is also not the most pleasant.
  • Do not stick anything in your dog's ears or nose while bathing.
  • Always be careful that the preparation does not get into the dog's eyes and mouth.
  • Not very thorough drying is also very unpleasant for the pet and may cause the body to cool down, especially in small breed dogs.
  • If the caregiver is in a rush and does not brush the hair before bathing, it may cause significant tangling of the hair, increasing the likelihood of tangles.
  • Do not use preparations that are not recommended for dog skin.


To sum up, the bath is not as scary as it is painted.

It is an essential care and often also healing treatment.

It is a myth that "frequent washing shortens life " - in many cases it facilitates the functioning of our pets.

And how your dogs react to a bath?

How often do you bathe your four-legged friends?

Do you have any tips for bathing methods?

Share them in the comments!

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