People often ask me, “How often should I bathe my dog?” My answer is always the same: “Simply bathe your dog whenever he or she is dirty, or whenever your dog is emitting an unpleasant odor. If your dog is constantly scratching or if anyone in your household is allergic to dogs, then wash your dog more frequently.” Bath time doesn’t have to be a complicated process!
Having “bath time” regularly can eliminate dry skin, odors and scratching
Scratching often means that the skin is dry or irritated. In order to fix this, give your pup a bath with the proper shampoo. With regards to allergies, non-allergic dogs don’t exist. It’s the dander (dead skin cells that become airborne), not the fur, that causes the allergic reactions in humans. To make your dog less allergic, make sure your dog’s skin is properly moisturized and hydrated. This can be as easy as bathing your dog frequently with a deeply moisturizing shampoo.
There was a time when veterinarians would tell their clients to only bathe their dog when it was absolutely necessary, and no more than once every other month. Many pet grooming products are now specifically for a dog’s sensitive skin.
A decade ago, these shampoos were hard to find. What manufactures failed to realize was that a dog’s skin is thinner, more delicate and has a different pH level than that of human skin. Because of these important factors, a dog shampoo should be better than human shampoo to be most effective. And remember to never use a human shampoo on your dog, no matter how expensive and luxurious it is. Human shampoos are for human skin, not dog skin.
What to do if your dog hates baths
As many dogs don’t enjoy bath time, a good recommendation is to give them a reward before and after bath time so they recognize that bathing has positive attributes. When Bell was alive, my Black Labrador, she used to dislike baths. So I did give her a treat before bathing her. Once she was clean, I would give her another treat, and then take her outside and throw a tennis ball for 30 minutes until she was completely exhausted and ready for a nap.
Going forward, she recognized that bath time lead to treats and games–and I never had any issues bathing her again. Her constant scratching disappeared, she shed less–healthy skin can reduce shedding by up to 30 percent–and she didn’t smell like a dog. And neither did my house. That is a win-win situation both of us and for any family and friends who are invited over.
This article was originally published in our Summer 2015 print issue.