Coming Clean On Your Dogs Bathtime

Posted by Dr Claire Jenkins on Mar 1, 2016 10:27:54 PM
Dr Claire Jenkins

Giving your dog a bath will cleanse their skin of dirt, debris and pollens. It can also be used as a way to deliver medication to the skin when needed. One thing to note though is that a shampoo will also remove natural oils from the coat.

So how often should I bath my dog?

  • This varies with the individual and there are no set rules but anywhere from twice weekly to twice yearly or even never!
  • If you are using a medicated shampoo for a skin infection or problem you may need to do this twice to three times weekly.
  • If you have an itchy or allergic dog they also may benefit from regular washes in a moisturising, hypoallergenic shampoo such as one with oatmeal (how oatmeal calms itch isn’t known, it’s thought to reduce inflammatory mediators & benefits can last from hours to a day or two).
  • If your dog has no skin issues, once monthly is more than enough, do what suits your lifestyle but too frequent washing of a dog with normal skin with an inappropriate shampoo can still lead to drying or irritating their skin.

What shampoo?

  • A dog approved shampoo. Not a human one. The type should be based on your dogs’ individual skin and current problem/s if present.
  • Medicated shampoos are used to treat bacterial and yeast infections, and can help with mites and other conditions.
  • Moisturising, hypoallergenic shampoos with additives such as oatmeal will benefit an itchy dog with no infection and is so gentle for dogs with a normal skin type.
  • Not a baby shampoo, human shampoo or wool mix and this has a lot to do with the pH. Your dogs’ skin has a much higher pH than human skin, so they aren’t pH balanced for pets. They can damage the coat and sensitive skin.

No shampoo?

It’s not necessary to use a shampoo with every bath. After a play in the mud or a swim in the ocean be rinsed with warm water only to remove the dirt and leave the natural oils alone, you could try this every other bath.

Should I be using a conditioner?

These contain oils or other active ingredients such as oatmeal. They detangle, add shine and can work as a barrier to retain moisture in the skin.
Conditioners or rinses are indicated to counteract dry and irritated skin if you are frequently bathing your dog with an inappropriate shampoo or some medicated shampoos.

They should also be used for itchy dogs (without infection) after the shampoo but also used on it’s own in between washes.

How is best to wash my dog?

Rinse with warm water, apply the shampoo, massage into the entire coat from nose to tail, being very careful around the eyes are ears, leave on 5-10 minutes and then thoroughly rinse off.
Follow with a rinse/conditioner afterwards if indicated.

Make bath time a happy time

Most importantly make your dogs bath time a happy time. By helping your fur kid to love the bath you make your job easier, and make for a happy dog. Use tasty treats to reward calm behaviour (before, during and after) and do something very special that they love at the end of the bath. This could be a toy or treat that they don’t normally get, a car ride or walk, something that means your pup will associate bath time with fun times!

Want help? Chat with our vets

Our experienced Aussie vets are online between 6am-11pm daily, so let’s get an action plan in place for your fur kid. Get an appointment for a video consult or start a chat within minutes.