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Dog Bathing & Hygiene - What You Need to Know About Dog Bathing & Hygiene

What is a good hygiene regimen for a dog?

Dog bathing, nail trims, and grooming are all really important. Typically, you don't want to bathe them too much because you can dry out their skin. Ideally, no more than once a week if you can help it. On some medicated regimens, if your veterinarian tells you so, you can bathe them twice a week, like every four days. As far as nail trims go, every dog's a little bit different. My dog has to have her nails done every two weeks because they grow super fast. My husband's hunting dogs, which are Boykin spaniels, only need a nail trim every couple of months. It is dog-dependent. You just have to make sure that you're paying attention to the size and shape of their nails and how long they are. If they're growing to the point where they're pushing off the ground, and it's changing how their feet hit the ground, that's when you definitely need to bring them in to get a nail trim.

Dr. Meghan Denney
4 Paws at Fulshear Veterinary Clinic

How does keeping my dog clean contribute to good health?

Just like in humans, cleanliness is next to godliness. It's better to be clean. They're less likely to get infections or have exposures the cleaner they are. If your dog is rolling around in the mud and coming into the house and then licking all the mud off, they can ingest parasites, bugs, or bacteria that can upset their GI tract. So keeping your dog clean and not matted is really important. Mats can cause a lot of pain. It's like right now, my ponytail is up pretty high, and my head's a little bit sore. That's how dogs feel when they have mats. It pulls. When I take my hair down tonight, my head's going to be a little bit sore. Imagine if you have a dog or a cat who's matted. That's how they feel all the time.

Is brushing my dog's teeth important for their overall health?

It's a great question. I'm not very good at this one. My dog does not like to have her teeth brushed. Veterinary dentists recommend brushing your dog's teeth twice a day, much like humans. That keeps the tartar from building up over time. If it's left alone, it will calcify, and then they have to have a dental procedure where we scale the teeth down and get rid of the calcified tartar. As far as what you can use to brush their teeth, you can get a gentle toothbrush, like a little finger toothbrush on Amazon, and canine toothpaste. You don't want to use human toothpaste as it is toxic, so it has to be a dog or feline toothpaste. Some are flavored, and as a puppy, you can get them used to this. Over time, it will really cut down on dentals and dental costs for your pet.

How do I find the right bathing products for my dog?

There are a lot of things on the market. Generally, if it says dog shampoo, you'll probably be fine. My favorite over-the-counter bathing product is Bert's Bees Colloidal Oatmeal. It's really moisturizing for your dog's skin. I like oatmeal shampoos and cream rinses for dogs.

Why is it important to clean my dog's bed, bowls, collar, leash, and toys regularly?

It's important to make sure that the things that your dog is surrounded with are clean. Over time, dead skin cells accumulate, so clean the bedding to make sure that it doesn't perpetuate itself if your dog has a skin infection. Cleaning your dog's bowl can be critical, especially if you feed them wet dog food. It's like if you were to leave meat out overnight on the counter. Are you going to eat that meat the next morning? No, probably not because it's going to grow bacteria and viruses. It's a breeding ground for nasty things. So keeping all these things clean will, in turn, make sure that your dog stays healthier.

What are some signs and symptoms of poor hygiene in my dog?

Matting and smell. If your dog smells, not the cute little, "Oh, my dog's feet smell like Fritos." I'm talking, "Oh, I don't want to smell this." They can have halitosis if the teeth are really bad. Your dog's odor should not offend your senses. That's one thing you can think of as, "Hey, if my dog stinks really bad. I probably need to give it a bath or take it to the groomer." Dental disease, overgrown nails, hair matting, fleas, dirt, crusting and flaking skin, heavy dander, and heavy shedding are the primary signs.

How can my veterinarian help me with dog hygiene issues?

If there are skin infections, we can give you medicated shampoos. We can also teach you how to trim your dog's nails. That's something that my nurses and myself do regularly. We do a ton of nail trims a day. We also take care of anal glands. So if your dog is scooting or looking back at their rear ends, that can be a sign that their anal glands are enlarged and need to be expressed. For those kinds of things, we can definitely help, and we can teach you how to do some of these things as well.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (281) 801-1444, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media,

Dog Bathing & Hygiene - FAQs

Dr. Meghan Denney
Four Paws At Fulshear

How often should I bathe my dog?

We want to make sure that we're not drying out their skin. So sometimes if you're bathing your dog when it's not medically necessary, more than once a week or once every two weeks, you can start to notice that their skin gets a little dry. That's because we're drying out the top oil layer of the skin. I would recommend no more than once a week if not every two weeks and it's going to be dependent on what your dog needs and what you're seeing.

How do I get my dog used to being bathed?

We want to start when they're puppies, getting them used to water. That's a good time to do it in the kitchen sink. You want to use warm water. That way it's not a shock to their system. Just start gradually. You can also have someone else in your household feeding treats to do this when they're hungry and that creates more of a positive experience. So we're working on positive reinforcement. If they are puppies, you do want to make sure you're using a tearless shampoo or a puppy shampoo and really avoid the eyes if at all possible. If you do need to bathe the head, then make sure you're using human baby tearless that will work really well. That way it doesn't hurt their eyes if it gets in the eyes.

Are there any products that can help my dog with itching?

Yes, there are some medicated shampoos that can help. Itching is usually a symptom of another problem like allergies of some sort so that's a question that we probably need to sit down in an exam room and have a talk about.

Do I need to use conditioner on my dog?

You don't but you can. It's not really necessary unless you've noticed that your dog's coat is super rough. You want to use one that's specific for dogs. I actually really like the Burt's Bees brand. You can get it from Amazon. They have a really good cool little oatmeal shampoo that I love for soothing skin along with the cream rinse.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (281) 801-1444, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

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