A dog only needs a bath when it looks dirty or develops that distinctive "doggie" odor. Regular bathing combats fleas, alleviates some skin conditions, and can relieve human allergic reactions. Avoid excessive bathing because it removes natural oils and dries out your dog's coat.
To bathe your dog, you will need dog shampoo, a brush and comb, and a few towels. Do not use human shampoo; it is not pH-balanced for a dog's skin and coat. Pet-food stores sell a variety of dog shampoos.
Indoors, wash puppies and small dogs in the sink or a washtub; use the bathtub for bigger dogs. Outdoors, weather permitting, use a child's wading pool or a hose. Some groomers and kennels provide do-it-yourself dog-washing stations.
Follow these simple steps for successful bathing:
- Before shampooing, brush your dog to remove dirt, dandruff, and dead hair. To loosen dead hair, skin flakes, and crud, massage the skin and coat; this action also stimulates your dog's skin and is relaxing for your pet.
- Place a rubber mat in the tub or sink to prevent slipping and sliding.
- Make bathing easier with a handheld showerhead or a hose with a nozzle. If you don't have this feature, have a plastic mug or cup on hand to make rinsing your pet easier.
- To avoid excessive splashing, do not fill the tub or sink. This might also minimize the dog's urge to shake himself dry (then again, it might not).
- Try not to get water in your dog's ear canals. Some groomers put cotton balls in a dog's ears to keep out water.
- Wet your dog's coat with warm water (not hot). Beginning at the head or the tail, rinse the fur to remove as much surface dirt as you can.
- Keeping suds away from your dog's eyes, apply a small amount of shampoo to the dog's back. Work up a lather, then spread the shampoo over the body. Work the shampoo through to the skin.
- Rinse your dog with warm water, starting at the head and ending at the tail. Make sure to rinse off all the shampoo, particularly from your dog's underside.
- After rinsing, squeeze excess moisture from your dog's coat and wrap in an absorbent towel. (This can reduce the urge to shake.)
- Remove your dog from the tub and blot dry, or blot your dog while it's still in the tub. Don't rub the coat dry because that can produce tangles.
- In warm weather, let your dog finish drying in the sun. In cool weather, use your blow-dryer on a low setting, or just make sure the house is warm, and keep your dog indoors for a few hours after its bath.
Continued on page 3: Nail Trimming