Splish, Splash: Dog Bathing Tips

Thanks to a question posted on our Facebook page, we decided to offer some quick tips for giving your dog a bath. With summers like the ones we've been having throughout the U.S. lately, bath time should be welcomed a little more than usual.

If your dogs get into a lot of muck and mire in training/hunting situations, and some of it is pretty foul smelling, that's a good indication of the need to look out for skin-irritating bacteria and pathogens in the environment they've been exposed to.

A good plan of attack is to bathe every two to four weeks with a quality, canine-specific shampoo, taking into account a few variables:

1) How often do you brush your dogs? The more frequently you brush and groom your dogs, and the more often you rinse their coats thoroughly after their having been exposed to ponds, lakes and marshes, the less of a need there is to shampoo them. Conversely, with more exposure comes an increased likelihood you'll need to wash their coats. Giving them a good brushing outside every day means less stray fur around the house and in the drain, and the coat will lie a lot more smoothly, meaning vegetation and dirt will come out more easily, too.

2) Does your dog have sensitive skin or allergies that irritate easily? If so, you want to keep a close eye on the dog's coat, undercoat and skin. If there appears to be any hair loss aside from casual seasonal shedding, or if dry patches/skin irritations begin, like dandruff, excessive scratching, chewing, etc., it's time to get the canine shampoo out more often. Think about what the dog has been exposed to recently and make a mental note, so that in the future you'll wash your dog sooner after exposure.

As with all things, if  irritation persists and your dog does not get any relief from a good bathing, schedule a vet appointment to get it cleared up ASAP. Your hunting buddy will be a lot birdier and a lot more willing to charge in after ducks and geese if he's not preoccupied with chewing a hole in his own backside.

3) Do your dogs come into the house and hang out in close proximity with you? More than just your spouse complaining about the smell, this could also lead to the dog spreading these things to you, your spouse and your children.

It is  important to reiterate that instead of using a shampoo meant for humans, spend the extra money and get a shampoo for dogs. The ingredients are  far less harsh and will be less likely to strip your dog of essential oils that it needs to maintain a healthy working coat and undercoat.  If you have any questions about what shampoo to use, contact your veterinarian or ask during your dog's pre-season checkup.

Dogs with thicker coats do maintain natural oils in their fur, so be careful not to bathe too frequently. If the coat starts to look dry or dandruffy, use a gentler, natural shampoo and cut down on the frequency of baths.

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