Dog Bathing & Hygiene - Everything You Need To Know About Dog Bathing & Hygiene


What is a good hygiene regime for a dog?

Kind of on a daily basis just making sure that their paws stay clean, especially after they come in outside. Some dogs with allergies really benefit from having their feet and their belly wiped off just with a wet washcloth, just to remove some of those surface allergens. Making sure that you're checking their ears, make sure that there's no dirt or debris, any irritation, redness in their ears. And then sometimes too if they're willing to let you look at their teeth, just making sure that none of their teeth seem irritated. And just checking their coat, make sure that they're not losing any big clumps of hair, there's no weird excessive shedding, or scabs, or crustiness or goopies, or anything like that.


Dr. Cara Hill
Advanced Animal Care - Berea

How does keeping my dog clean contribute to good health?

Keeping them clean, really the biggest thing is is that their skin is the largest organ of their body, and it's their first line of defense against a lot of stuff, and so we want to keep that skin as healthy as we can. And so it really makes a big difference in their general health if we can help their skin out by removing some of that surface dirt and mud, checking them for those sores, making sure that they don't have mats, making sure that there's no inflammation, irritation, anything like that.

Is brushing my dog's teeth important to overall hygiene?

It is, but veterinary dentists will tell you that if you're not brushing their teeth twice a day, every day like you and I brush our teeth, then the occasional once a week, once a month, once a year of brushing isn't going to be as beneficial to them. So what I really like to do, and what I do for my two goons is I actually give them dental chews, and I love dental chews because a lot of the ones that we at least carry here have an enzymatic component to them, so they're like little Pac-Man that work at that plaque and tartar on their teeth to help clear that, and they also do help with freshening breath. And so what I like to give my guys are these DenTees Chews here, or we also like the VeggieDent Chews made by Virbac for their teeth.

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

Your veterinarian is going to be the best place to start with that. Any pet formulated shampoo is going to be great, so I would avoid things like Dawn dish soap or human shampoos, they can be really, really drying to their skin. But my personal favorite is this Dermalyte shampoo from Dechra. They also have a DermAllay, which is their oatmeal variety of this shampoo, but it's really, really gentle on their skin. It has a wonderful, wonderful scent, but it also has ceramides in it, which it's a component that's kind of like the mortar to the brick and mortar of the skin.

Do you have any tips on how to bathe your dog at home or how to clean their paws?

The best thing to do to start with is just getting your pet familiar with messing with their feet or get them used to the bathroom or the bathtub or, getting used to having their feet wiped. Lots of positive reinforcement, so I'm a big fan of treats. As long as your pet can tolerate peanut butter okay, and make sure it's the peanut butter without the xylitol in it, some people are really successful with smearing peanut butter on the tub wall so that their dog has something to focus on and lick and it takes them a little bit of time to get that off while they're bathing.

But if you're messing with their feet you can use things like training treats, or even things like Cheerios to just give them positive reinforcement as good behavior for letting you touch their feet, letting you touch their ears, letting you put them in the tub, or get them in the bathroom. And then it's just working slowly, things don't happen overnight, and they may not go right on your first try, but repeating it and continuously practicing it will make a big difference so that your pet and you yourself have a good experience when it comes to bathing.

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

Just like you wash your clothes and you wash your bed sheets regularly the dirt and the dander and everything that comes off of your pet can grow bacteria, and that can get into their bed, that can get into their collars and their leashes. So just like you would wash your bedsheets once a week, or once every two weeks, everybody's got their personal preference out there, but I would recommend that you wash your dog stuff kind of on the same schedule as well.

And the same goes for their leashes and their collars. Really bowls should be washed at least once a week, if not on a daily basis, or twice a week. And that's just the bacteria in their mouth that can get in the bowls and can cause a little bit of growth on the bowls. I know there's a big thing that a lot of people say stainless steel is the way to go, but every pet has a preference as to what they prefer to eat or drink out of, the biggest thing is just making sure that you are keeping it clean.

And then in terms of their personal hygiene, we recommend that we do bathe them at least once a month, and that's just the best recommendation for skin skull turnover and keeping their coat healthy and clean.

What are some signs and symptoms of poor hygiene in dogs?

If you notice any itching, redness, any odors that just don't smell good to you, if you notice any sores, anything is oozing, anything like that, any big crusts or scabs, that's definitely a good reason to call your veterinarian and bring your pet in and have them seen.

How can my veterinarian help me with my dog hygiene issues?

A lot of times if your pet comes in and it's got something going on with its skin or its ears, a lot of times we'll take a swab of that and we'll look at it under the microscope so that we know how best to treat it because skin can kind of arise from fungal infections, or yeast infections, or bacterial infections. And of course, antibiotics aren't going to treat yeast, just like antifungals aren't going to treat bacteria. So the best thing to do is to make an appointment so we can figure out exactly what's going on with your pet’s skin so that we know the best way to treat them and get them relief.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 518-8303, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Bathing & Hygiene - FAQs 1


Dr. Cara Hill
Advanced Animal Care - Berea

How often should I brush my dog's teeth?

If you're not going to be brushing them twice a day every day, just like you and I brush our teeth, a lot of times it's recommended that that once a week, once a month, or once a year of brushing isn't going to be super beneficial. But what I really like to tell owners to do instead is use dental treats or dental chews. I love them because they have some components to them that help work at that plaque and tartar. And a lot of them help freshen the breath too, which is what most owners tend to notice about their pets' mouth.

How do I get my dog used to having their teeth brushed?

A lot of times just working on their own pace, letting them explore the toothbrush in the sense of if you hold it and you let them sniff it or lick it, or just get used to it on their end. A lot of times, most dogs will really struggle with the idea of having their teeth brushed if you just honker in and go right into brushing their teeth really aggressively, and they haven't had a chance to really warm up to the idea of the toothbrush or anything else. Sometimes, you need to start with just putting that dog-friendly toothpaste on there and just letting them sniff it, and lick it, and try it, and get used to it that way, and have that be a good experience. And then from there, once they like that toothbrush more, and the toothpaste more, then you can start working on some of that brushing action.

What is a sanitary haircut and why would my dog need it?

Some dogs tend to have longer hair, and those dogs, sometimes when they urinate or defecate, sometimes urine gets caught in that hair or poop gets caught in that hair. And it can either develop a mat or it can hold that product against the skin. And sometimes it can cause some skin irritation, or even sometimes a skin ulcer or skin infection. And so for those guys, what we recommend is a sanitary trim, which is basically where we just trim the hair around their hind end, around their bum, around their prepuce if needed, or around their vulva if they're a girl. Just to help keep it more hygienic, more clean down there so that they get plenty of air so that they can dry out so that their hair isn't holding that fecal or urine material against their skin.

Why is it important to have my dog's nails trimmed?

We definitely want to make sure that we keep up on our pets' nail trimming. The biggest reason for that is that if their nails get too long, it can put awkward pressure on their toes that can be uncomfortable to them. And we definitely don't want that. But if their nails are too long as well, sometimes those long nails can get caught in the decking on your porch, or on your back porch. Or sometimes, if they're playing and running around the house, and those nails can actually get broken, and that can be really painful to your pet.

Why is my dog scooting their butt on the ground?

The most common thing that we see for butt scooting is going to be anal glands. Sometimes they'll scoot their bum too if it's a little itchy back there. But usually, it's itchy because they need an anal gland expression, or it could just be itchy back there. But the best thing to do would be to schedule to have your pet seen by their veterinarian so that they can get their anal glands checked and expressed.

When should I take my dog to do professional grooming?

That's a personal preference. If you have a dog that has longer hair, maybe they need a trim down for hot weather to help keep them cool. Maybe they... you have a dog that has hair that grows, like a Shih Tzu, or a poodle, or things like that, and you want to keep them trimmed regularly to keep their hair for matting, to keep their hair clean, and in a good, healthy state. Sometimes... Gracie here's got a short coat, but sometimes I take her to the groomer, especially in the spring and in the fall to have a good de-shedding bath done and have her undercoat blown out. And that helps a lot with her shedding at home.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 518-8303, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Bathing & Hygiene - FAQs 2


Dr. Cara Hill
Advanced Animal Care - Berea

How often should I bathe my dog?

I always recommend bathing your dog once a month, that's the best frequency to help keep their skin and hair coat healthy.

What is the best way for me to safely bathe my dog at home?

Getting your pet used to the tub and used to getting bathed first is going to be ideal. Some tips or tricks are smearing some peanut butter or some cheese whiz or things like that along the tub wall, as a distraction for your pet so that they get a positive reinforcement during the bath. But just going slow and moving at your pet's pace is going to be your best bet.

What shampoo should I use to bathe my dog?

So first and foremost, you want to use a shampoo that is formulated for pets. That's really, really important. Things like Dawn Dish Soap or human hair shampoos can be really drying to their skin. My personal favorite is this Dechra DermaLyte. It's really, really easy on their skin, it's hypoallergenic and it has a really wonderful green apple scent.

Do I need to use a conditioner on my dog?

Some dogs benefit from it. Some dogs don't necessarily need it. It's kind of a personal preference for you too. So I do like to put conditioner on my dogs, I feel like it makes their coat really soft, but everything in moderation. And then again too, making sure that it is a pet formulated conditioner.

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

So there are some anti-itch shampoos out there, some of them have hydrocortisone in them. But a lot of times your pet is itching for a reason, whether it be that maybe they have fleas or maybe they have a skin infection, or maybe they have skin allergies just like you and I can have allergies. And so if the itching is excessive or continuous, I definitely recommend calling your vet to have an appointment, to have them checked out just so that they can get some relief.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 518-8303, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

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