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Bathing Your Dog

There are no firm guidelines for how often to bathe a dog. The quality and texture of the dog’s hair (whether it’s long, silky, curly, smooth, or wiry) will determine how much dirt it collects and how frequently the dog should be bathed. Your dog’s lifestyle and activities will also influence how often she gets dirty and needs a bath. If you own a dog with special coat requirements, you may wish to consult a breeder or a professional groomer for specific recommendations.

The usual reasons for bathing a dog are to remove accumulated dirt and debris, to facilitate the removal of dead hair at shedding time, to eliminate doggy odor in dogs with oily coats, and to improve the appearance of the coat. Routine bathing is not necessary for the health of the coat or the dog. In fact, frequent bathing can rob the coat of its natural sheen and make it harsh and dry. For most dogs, regular brushing will keep the coat and skin in good condition and eliminate the need for frequent baths.

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Before bathing a dog, brush out all snarls and tangles and remove mats. If this step is omitted, the wet, matted hair will set and be most difficult to manage.

It is important to select a shampoo labeled “for dogs.” The pH of canine skin is neutral (7 to 7.4). Most shampoos for humans are on the acid side and are therefore unsuitable for dogs. There are a number of good commercial dog shampoos on the market for white dogs and dogs with other coat colors. Do not use human hair dyes or coloring agents on dogs.

Household disinfectants must never be used on dogs. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and can cause death.

Except on warm, sunny days, baths should be given indoors using a bathtub or basin. Place a rubber mat on the bottom of the tub or basin to keep the dog from slipping and panicking. Plug her ears with cotton to keep water out-wet ear canals are predisposed to infection.

Add some lukewarm water to the tub, then place the dog in the tub. Begin by washing her face with a damp cloth. Lift up the ear flaps and wipe the undersurface to remove dirt, wax, and dead skin. Using a bath sprayer, wet the dog thoroughly with warm water. If necessary, bury the nozzle into her hair to get to the skin.

Then work the shampoo in by hand, one section at a time. Be sure to lather all of the dog-not only her back and sides, but also her neck, chest, belly, legs, feet, and tail. If the coat is badly soiled, rinse lightly and then repeat the sudsing process.

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