Washing your dog
A dirty dog needs to be washed. How frequently can you wash your dog? How do you wash your dog? What if washing dries the dog’s skin? Read more for the best tips for washing your dog!
Who cares about mud and dirt! Tara the setter enjoys life and daily walks in the forest and fields. In the spring she gets dirty every day and has to be washed every day. Unfortunately, frequent washing dries her skin.
Tara’s situation is familiar to many dog owners who live in the countryside where dogs can run around freely. Risto Lötjönen-Pihlaja, product manager for Orion Pharma Animal Health, knows how to wash a dog without drying its skin.
1. Only wash the areas that are dirty
A dog with healthy skin only needs to be washed if there is visible or actual dirt in its fur, which usually means once or twice a year. Frequent washing causes dry skin. The dog’s environment, hobbies and type of hair will determine how often it must be washed. Dogs that require grooming need to be washed frequently because dirty hair becomes easily tangled.
You can rinse your dog’s belly and paws daily if needed. Always rinse the dog’s paws, including between the toes, with water after a walk in mud or salted roads. If necessary use a dog shampoo that can be used daily. Remember to dry the paws properly.
In the winter the best time to wash your dog is after the evening walk so the dog will not have to go outside when still wet and risk catching a cold. In summer when there are ticks around you should wash your dog at least a week before applying the liquid medication that protects it from ticks and other external parasites to its hair. The medicine spreads with the grease on the dog’s skin, so a wash at the wrong time will decrease the effect.
2. Ensure that you have good dog shampoos and a practical place to wash the dog
Human shampoos are not suitable for dogs and will not clean your dog. Choose a shampoo that moisturises the dog’s skin and is also suitable for puppies, for times of year when daily washing is necessary. Pharmacies and veterinarians stock shampoos for various skin conditions such as flaky skin.
Mix the shampoo with water so that it is ready to use and keep it in an old washing-up liquid bottle that has been rinsed clean so that it is ready when you need it.
It might be a good idea to spread a shower mat on the floor to keep the dog from slipping on the wet floor. If your dog is not a fan of baths, have some treats ready and reward it afterwards.
3. Wet the dog’s hair completely
Remove any tangles before you wash the dog.
Make sure the hair, including the undercoat, is completely wet. Lukewarm water will feel comfortable to your dog. Make sure you shower the dog from above to prevent water from getting into its nose or eyes. Make sure that no water gets into the ears.
If your dog has long hair, squeeze the shampoo into it.
Do not rub, as this will wear the hair and make it tangled. A single lathering is usually sufficient.
If any shampoo remains on the skin, it will make the skin itchy and dry so make sure you use plenty of water to rinse your dog. It’s easier to rinse your dog in the shower than a bathtub.
4. Dry the dog’s fur by hand and use conditioner
Use a towel to squeeze any remaining water from the hair, including the undercoat: wet skin can easily lead to infections. Show dogs with long hair usually have their own hairdryer. Take care when using a hairdryer and use your own arm to make sure that the air is not too hot. Excess heat feels uncomfortable and will dry the skin.
If you prefer using a conditioner that needs to be rinsed off, apply it to wet hair. This way it will spread more evenly. A spray conditioner that does not need to be rinsed out is suitable for dogs with smooth and short hair and will soothe dry skin. Only choose sprays with a mild fragrance or no fragrance at all to avoid disturbing the dog's delicate sense of smell.
Text: Virve Järvinen