Bathing Your Dog
This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary
care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.
Every pet owner has an olfactory (smell) memory that triggers their gag
reflex, “I’ve never smelled anything like it! (S)He must have rolled in
something dead!Odors that defy classification have an obvious solution;
bathe the dog. Soap choice is where the confusion starts. In some situations
it seems nothing but the harshest solvents will be adequate to clean your
pet. It may also seem reasonable to use dish soap or a product designed for
human hygiene, such as shampoo. “Harsh chemicals aren’t necessary,” assured
Terese DeManuelle, a veterinary dermatologist from Portland, Oregon. “A mild
hypoallergenic soap that’s formulated for veterinary use is all you need.”
“Formulated for veterinary use” means a product that’s designed to work with
a dog’s body. While dish soap or your favorite shampoo might strip away the
dirt, and more importantly the odor, from your pet’s coat, it will also
strip natural oils from their fur and may irritate their skin.
All grooming products (human and animal) are designed to maximize cleaning
and minimize irritation. Human products work best on human skin and
veterinary products are designed to work best on dog skin. The chemistry of
a dog’s skin and fur are different than the chemistry of a human’s skin and
In addition to the odor- provoked “emergency bath” Dr. DeManuelle notes
it’s safe to bathe your dog with veterinary shampoo once a week. However, if
the veterinary shampoo you’re using contains any medication or insecticide,
follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian. Prescription shampoos
treat specific problems and may necessitate bathing more or less frequently
than once a week.
A final insight pertaining to bathing your pet is to comb their coat prior
to bathing. Wet fur mats more than dry fur so a wet tangled coat is harder
to brush out and will take longer to dry. This small detail can save you
time and prevent an uncomfortable brushing for your pet.
After a bath your dog will smell good, look good, and probably feel good.
Make sure your dog is dry before you allow it back outside or it will feel
good enough to dry itself. It will streak from the tub straight outside to
find a new exotic aroma to frolic in and bring home to share.
This Pet Health Topic was written by Sarah Hoggan, Washington
State University, Class of 2001.
Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to
you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.
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