Keeping Your Dog’s Skin and Coat Healthy

dog bathing in soap suds

Many people like to wash their dog to keep them clean and smelling nice, particularly if they live indoors. They also feel that it keeps his skin and coat healthy.

It may surprise you to know that if your dog has a normal skin and coat, bathing isn’t all that important in keeping it healthy. It’s more important to feed them a quality food, so the natural skin oils help to repel dirt and keep their coat soft. Some dogs are washed only once a year, and they are clean and smell great.

Some less expensive foods aren’t as good for your dog’s coat as foods with a higher price tag – this relates to the quality of ingredients. If you find your dog’s coat is dry and harsh, consider adding omega fatty acids to his meal several times a day. You can purchase a specific dog supplement to do this, or you can try adding sardines to his meal – fish oil is very good for his coat.

If you do want to bathe your dog, here are some guidelines.

Choose your shampoo carefully. Never use a shampoo designed for humans,  as the detergents are often too harsh for a dog’s skin. They may dry out their skin and lead to irritation and itching. There are many shampoos available for dogs; choose one that is mild and soap free.

Use warm water, it’s much more comfortable for your dog. Some dogs are afraid of the hose, and enjoy being washed in a large tub. Use a small bucket or a scoop to pour water over his back.

When you’re washing him, don’t scrub his coat harshly. It can irritate his skin. A gentle lather will be just as effective and he’ll enjoy it more. You may want to spend some time massaging his skin – he’ll love it. Rinse off all traces of shampoo thoroughly, and consider using a leave in conditioner, especially if his coat is dry.

A good towel dry will finish off his bath, and stop you getting drenched when he shakes! Some people like to blow dry their dogs. It’s not uncommon for small fluffy breeds to be dried like this. Be careful not to burn their skin with the hot air.

How often do you have to bath your dog? As mentioned, some people wash their dogs very infrequently, but you may not be comfortable with that. If your dog has a skin problem, your vet may have prescribed a medicated shampoo. You may have to shampoo your dog with this as often as twice weekly.

For dogs with normal skin, the less they’re bathed, the better. Feeding them well has a much greater impact on skin health than washing. Ideally, wash them no more frequently than monthly. This will allow you to use the monthly flea control products and not wash them off in between applications.

A clean dog is much nicer to cuddle, and he won’t leave dirty marks on your couch. Take care with what you feed him and how you bath him, and he’ll be soft and smelling sweet.

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