Proper Bathing and Hygiene for your Dog

dog wrapped in bath towel

We all want our pets to have good hygiene. After all, they kiss us and even share our beds. Even though we are busier than ever, we need to find the time to groom our dogs on a regular basis. It is very important to the health and happiness of your dog.

Bathing

The most obvious pace to start is to bathe your dog. Vets recommend bathing dogs once or twice every three months. If your dog just went for a good roll in the mud, you should still give it a bath. After all, you want your dog and your house to be clean. However, dogs have thin, sensitive skin. When over-bathed, their skin can become irritated and dry. Their fur can tangle and lose its shine.

Be sure to brush your dog’s hair prior to bathing. This will remove matted hair and keep your dog from shedding in the house. Many people like to bath their dogs outside. The bathtub or sink works too. Don’t put shampoo and water on your pet’s head, since their ears and eyes are sensitive. It is better to wash your pet’s face with a damp washcloth.

Tip: If your pet tends to dislike bath time, give them a toy to play with to distract them.

Oral Care

We know how important it is to brush our own teeth. It is no less important for your pet. It is best to start brushing their teeth when they are puppies, so they get used to the practice. However, you can start at any time. Let them get used to your hand in and near their mouth by rubbing your finger on their lips and gums. Then, graduate to an actual brush once they are comfortable. It is recommended to use a toothbrush and toothpaste formulated for dogs specifically. Don’t use a human toothbrush; it can hurt their gums. Doggy toothpaste tastes like meat or cheese, so they actually like it. It may take some time and lots of treats before they are comfortable. That is fine.

Most vets recommend brushing two to six times a week. Without regular brushing, many dogs have gum disease by 3 or 4 years old. So, the sooner you start the better. Chew toys and special treats also help with plaque and tartar build up. Plus, your pet loves them!

Tip: Only brush the outside of their teeth since plaque doesn’t build up on the inside. Always brush in a circular motion, not side to side.

Grooming

We all love our pets, but sometimes their fur is just too much! To avoid your couch becoming a hairball (and needing to hire a cleaning service), it is best to brush your dog’s fur once a week. If your dog has fine or long hair, you should brush their hair on a daily basis. Brushing your pet’s hair reduces tangles, removes dirt, and distributes natural oils. It is a mini-bath for your pet.

Tip: Always brush away from the skin not towards it. Don’t forget the tail.

Nails and Feet

Cutting your dog’s nails can be a challenge, especially if either of you had an unpleasant experience in the past. Always use special dog nail clippers or scissors, not those made for humans. A rotary tool can be used but will take longer. Never cut into the quick, it is painful for your pup. If you do cut it, put a little cornstarch on the quick to stop the bleeding. If your dog is fearful of the nail cutting process, don’t force the situation. Use treats, and praise your pet for their efforts.

Your dog’s nails should not touch the ground while walking. If you can hear Fido coming, it is time for a trim. Your dog’s nails naturally file themselves if they walk or play outside. If your pet is inside most of the time, you will have to trim its nails more often. Start by cutting a small amount at a time. Always cut at an angle, and follow the natural curve of the nail.

You can take this time to check your pet’s paws for stones or thorns. If you live in a cold climate that uses rock salt or chemicals to melt ice and snow, it is a good idea to wash your pup’s feet in warm water after walks. You can also put a little Vaseline on their paws to keep them clean and moisturized.

Tip: When in doubt, have your vet or groomer clip the nails. They will be happy to walk you through the process.

We all want our little friends to be happy and clean. Don’t forget to wash their bedding and toys. Grooming and caring for your dog is a great way to bond. Your dog will be healthier and happier with a little help from you.