Pet Health Care Article by Dr. B: pet bathing tips for your dogs
In twenty-seven years of veterinary practice, I have dispensed a lot of advice. Yet, I find myself returning time and again to a message that is so simple and basic, that to ignore repeating it would be the biggest disservice to my patients as well as my clients.
Two of the essential principles of pet ownership are to always apply common sense to any situation and to observe for cause and effect relationships. By utilizing this advice your stress level will be lower, your pet will be healthier and happier and your veterinary bills will be dramatically less.
For example, let us examine the issue of how often to bathe your dog. Very often I see clients who have been told by well meaning advisors that to subject their pet to any more than one or two baths a year would be harmful to the well being of the dogs skin and coat. When asked if they thought that the advice was correct most would reply that they had wondered about it but yet ignored their gut feelings and lived with their unwashed and odiferous companions.
In order to gently point out the error of their ways, I would ask about their own shampooing patterns. Most people would admit to washing their own hair several times a week. Why did they feel that to wash their dog even once per week would have a dire consequence??
Forty years ago the shampoos that were available for pets were essentially detergents that stripped the skin of dirt (which was good) as well as all the oils that were important for a healthy coat. Hence, the myth began that to bath a dog would lead to a dry coat. Over the years, the formulations of the shampoos changed and conditioning agents were added to the detergents thus allowing the skin to be cleaned without damaging the precious oils.
I tell my clients that ninety percent of the dogs could be bathed every day with ninety percent of the shampoos on the market without any problems, although I routinely recommend bathing every one to two weeks. But, here is where the cause and effect principle comes into play.
Bathing may not cure a skin problem but it should never make it worse. However, there may be times where a particular shampoo may cause a reaction particular to that individual. If you are observant enough to notice redness, flakiness or increased itching after a bath, don’t condemn the institution of bathing, just use a different shampoo.
Specific skin conditions often require specialized medicated shampoo. Consult with your local veterinarian for the professional advice, which will benefit your pet.