Welcoming a dog into your home brings many responsibilities. Grooming is one responsibility. You can choose to groom and bath your dog, or you may feel more comfortable seeking the services of a qualified dog groomer. Bathing and grooming a dog are essential for their health and wellbeing.
If you have welcomed a new puppy into your household, it is a good idea to familiarise them with bath time. By ensuring bath time is an enjoyable experience you will establish a positive association as the dog grows older. If you have welcomed an older dog into your home, ask the shelter how the dog responded to baths and grooming. Remember when introducing bathing and grooming, make it a happy time.
Some indicators when your dog needs a bath.
- Build-up inside the ears – Ear mites and infections can occur if left dirty for too long. Dogs with especially large, floppy ears are at greater risk.
- Coat feels greasy – This usually means there is dead fur and skin cells also building up which can eventually cause skin issues and/or yeast overgrowth
- Odour – This is another indicator there is a build-up of dead fur/skin cells. You’ll want to give your dog a thorough brushing before bathing.
Consider that a dogs’ skin produces natural oils that are beneficial. These oils prevent their skin from becoming dry/irritated, and even protect against infections. For this reason, it is recommended that dogs are not washed more than once per week, as it strips the coat of these natural oils. If your dog becomes smelly within a few days, a healthy solution is to use a deodorizing spray specifically for dogs.
Please note sometimes odour is a sign of skin issues, and a special shampoo should be used to prevent further irritation. If the odour is accompanied by constant licking or biting of the skin or rashes present, we recommend you visit your vet.
Before you start, prepare where you will bath or groom the dog and have all the tools you require on hand.
- Choose a quiet, well-lit spot in the house or outside to groom.
- Be calm and patient, this will influence your dog’s response.
- Use proper dog grooming tools, they don’t need to be expensive, but they do need to be the right tool for the coat type.
- If you are considering using clippers, please research clipper types and how to use them safely.
- Swaddling in a towel for nail-trimming can help anxious dogs, or you can ask a family member or friend to assist you.
- Always brush your dog prior to any bath. This helps to remove loose debris and old hair.
- Check the water temperature feels comfortable to you.
- Always keep bath time positive. Speak to your dog calmly, let him know he is safe.
- Wet the coat thoroughly, ensuring it is wet down to the skin (particularly long and double-coated dogs).
- Apply shampoo directly onto your dog massaging down the skin.
- Avoid getting water in your dog’s ears when rinsing the shampoo off.
- For a small breed dog, wipe your dog’s face/eyes with dampened cotton pads, or an old face washer. Larger breeds can have their face washed, however, keep the shampoo away from their eyes. As a note, most dogs don’t like having water poured over their faces.
- Rinse the shampoo out thoroughly until the water runs clear. If your dog has an undercoat, use your fingers to ensure you get water through the coat.
- Apply a gentle conditioner, massage through the coat, then rinse thoroughly.
- Dogs instinctively shake excess water out of their coat, but you will have to towel dry or you can use a hairdryer (check temperature is not too hot and don’t use too close to the body). Many dogs don’t like the sound of a hairdryer or the air blowing on them. Always take all safety precautions when using a hairdryer.
- Check your dog’s eyes for problems such as discharge or redness.
- Check your dog’s ears, make sure they are clean and dry.
- If you have a dog with lots of skin folds, particularly around the face and tail base, ensure these are dried carefully.
- For puppies, it is important to train your puppy to feel comfortable about being handled and brushed.
- For Long coated or double-coated dogs – brush weekly
- For Short coated or smooth-coated dogs – brush every few weeks
- For Short, dense coated dogs – brush weekly
Some coats require occasional trimming.
Your dog needs to be calm when trimming or clipping, their safety is paramount. If you don’t feel confident in trimming or clipping your dog’s coat, please refer to a qualified dog groomer.
Some of the reasons you may trim your dog’s coat include:
- Fur on face is causing irritation or hindering eyesight
- Mats and tangles
- Build-up around the face, chin or rear-end
If trimming your dog use rounded-tip dog scissors. If you are confident in using clippers for trimming, ensure they are appropriate for the size of your dog.
Feet and Nails
Check for extra hair between the footpads, carefully trimming the hair. Walking your dog will help maintain healthy nails as they naturally wear down. If trimming your dog’s nails at home, ensure your dog is calm. Be mindful not to cut the nail too far to avoid accidentally trimming the quick – or bloodline in the claw. Doing this will hurt the dog and cause the nail to bleed. Be sure to keep an anticoagulant (such as powdered turmeric) on hand when trimming nails so you can dab some onto the bleeding claw to make it stop. If bleeding persists, please contact your vet immediately.
If you have any concerns regarding the health of your dog, please consult your veterinarian for advice.