Bathtime for Bowser: Some tips |

Bathtime for Bowser: Some tips

Jura Koncius
The Washington Post
Vail, CO Colorado

When your dog starts smelling like a dog, it’s time for a bath.

“Washing your dog yourself is a much more enjoyable experience for the person and the dog than sending it to a groomer or hosing it down in the back yard,” says Susan Silver, owner of Washington’s Lucky Dog Laundromutt and Lounge. “The dog is more relaxed. After all, the dog is getting all the attention of his favorite person.”

So how often should you figure on having this enjoyable experience? If your dog spends most of his day lying on his bed (or yours), every month or two is fine. But if he is a regular on the dog park circuit and gets into lots of underbrush and muddy puddles, every few weeks or so is probably a good idea.

The size of your dog might affect how often you need to wash. According to Chicago veterinarian Sheldon Rubin, an adviser to the American Veterinary Medical Association, large dogs might need washing only every two months. Small dogs can be bathed every two weeks, and medium-size dogs usually need a bath every four to six weeks.

Here are tips for giving your dog a bath:

– Assemble everything you’ll need ” shampoo, lots of towels, a waterproof apron (for you) ” before you begin. Some pet owners use the bathtub or kitchen sink, others opt for the garden hose.

– Brush your dog before the bath, advises Pam Ahart, president of Bark ‘N Bubbles, a full- and self-service dog wash in Ashburn, Va. “We have a tool called the Furminator,” Ahart says. “It gets all the hair in the undercoat.”

– Water temperature should be cooler than what you would use to wash yourself. Lukewarm is good.

– Use a shampoo formulated for dogs, not for people. Dog shampoos have a lower pH factor. Some vets prescribe special shampoos for skin conditions; take those along if you are going to a DIY facility.

“We usually suggest a hypoallergenic shampoo,” Rubin says. “It’s soap-free but still cleans well and is less drying to the skin.”

He recommends oatmeal-based shampoos. He also cautions against washing your dog immediately after using a topical flea or tick repellent: “Either wait a few days after applying it to give a bath or put it on just after you bathe your dog, because it works well when applied on clean skin.”

– Lather and scrub all areas, using your hands. Be careful around the eyes and ears. Many self-service dog washes provide disposable ear and eye wipes.

– Feel your pet’s body for ticks, lumps and bumps as you are sudsing. New or unusual growths should be reported to your vet.

– Rinsing is important to prevent post-bath itching.

– DIY dog-wash centers usually provide professional-grade room-temperature hair dryers rather than the heated-air type people use. If you wash your pet at home, it’s not a good idea to use your own heated-air blow dryer; its high temperatures could make your dog overheated and dehydrated.

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