Bathing your dog or cat

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Ingleburn Veterinary Hospital
Unit 4, 2 Noonan Road
Ingleburn
NSW 2565

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Phone:
02 9829 1947

Ingleburn Veterinary Emergency Centre
Unit 4, 2 Noonan Road
Ingleburn
NSW 2565

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Phone:
02 9829 1628

Note: All of these recommendations are for animals with normal healthy skin. Animals with skin problems need examination and veterinary advice. We may recommend different treatments for animals with dermatitis of any kind.

 

How often?

There is no single answer to this question. Some people advise that a dog should be bathed only when it is dirty or smelly. However, bathing is important for more than just keeping the coat looking clean. Bathing will also remove potential allergens, dead hair and skin and excessive oil from the hair and skin. This reduces scratching and the risk of dermatitis. Shampoos can also help with the control of fleas.
Our advice (based on the opinion of dermatology specialists) is that dogs should generally be bathed every 1-2 weeks in the warmer months and every 2-4 weeks over winter. However, bathing less often is probably OK, so long as your dog has healthy skin.

 

What about puppies?

Puppies can be bathed from any age. But it’s important to use warm water on young puppies, dry them well afterwards, and make sure that the shampoo that you use is safe for use on puppies.

What about cats?

Cats groom themselves very well and do not necessarily need to be bathed regularly – which is fortunate since most of them don’t like it! However, we do recommend that cats be bathed occasionally. And if you get them used to bathing when they’re kittens, they won’t be so scared of it. Be especially careful with shampoo selection for cats.

 

What shampoo should I use?

There are hundreds of different soaps and shampoos used to bath dogs and cats. Most of them are totally inappropriate! An animal with a healthy coat needs a shampoo that will clean the hair and skin, without removing the thin layer of normal sebum (oil). Damage to the sebum layer leads to dry skin that is more susceptible to infection. We would recommend one of the following shampoos for regular use:

Epi Soothe S from Virbac is a gentle, soothing shampoo for dry to normal skin. Dermcare's  Aloveen is also quite good.

Resisoothe oatmeal leave on skin lotion is ideal for use in between shampoos to condition, clean and soothe the skin and coat.

Dermcare Natural shampoo is an inexpensive soap-free shampoo that won’t damage the skin.

 

What about fleas?

Using a shampoo to kill fleas is also an option:

Ectosoothe contains colloidal oatmeal and a very good insecticide. But it cannot be used on cats.

Fido’s Pyrethrin Shampoo is a safe insecticidal shampoo for both dogs and cats.

Shampoos are very good at killing fleas, but they usually have no residual action. This means that your dog can start to pick up fleas again as soon as it’s dry. With the many excellent flea products now available, using an insecticidal shampoo as well may be unnecessary. A full discussion of flea control is beyond the scope of this article. But flea rinses are an option for short-term flea protection. Good flea rinses include:

Permoxin Concentrate – for dogs only, not cats.

Fido’s Fre-Itch Rinse Concentrate – dogs and cats.

What NOT to use. This could potentially be a long list!

  • “Medicated” shampoos are not appropriate unless prescribed by a vet. Many supermarket medicated shampoos will dry and damage the skin.
  • Human shampoos are not pH balanced for a dog’s skin. Human skin is approx. 100 times more acidic!
  • Soaps of any kind will generally dry out the skin.
  • Eucalyptus and tea-tree oils can irritate the skin.
  • Laundry detergents are very alkaline and the detergent strips the sebum from the skin. Even wool wash is not recommended.
  • Organophosphates and anticholinesterases are found in many of the older insecticides. These are potentially toxic, especially to puppies or if combined with other insecticides. There are much safer and more effective insecticides available. 

How to bath your dog. Always follow the directions on the label. In most cases you should wet the dog all over with cool or warm water (depending on the weather). Apply the shampoo a little at a time, and lather using either your hands or a soft sponge. Rinse well and dry with a towel. Many people have their dogs bathed by groomers or mobile dog washes. This is fine, but you should check what shampoo they’re using, and if it’s not appropriate, ask them to use your dog’s own shampoo. For more tips on shampooing your dog, refer below to the Dermcare shampooing instructions.

If you have any questions, please give us a call.
 

 

Practical tips for shampooing dogs

 
  • Thoroughly wet your dog all over. The more water you get into the coat the easier it is to shampoo. You may find it necessary to add small amounts of shampoo as you go, as this breaks down the surface tension due to grease on the skin and allows the shampoo to penetrate down to the skin where it is needed. 
  • Use a sponge to apply shampoo particularly around the face. Pouring shampoo down the back of your pet will mean you will use more than you require particularly when using Dermcare products. These products are made concentrated so you only need a small amount of shampoo. Work on a figure of 1-2 teaspoons of shampoo per 5-kg dog. The larger amount is for hairier dogs. 
  • When lathering up always add more water before you add more shampoo. A shampoo won't lather well in absence of water. Dermcare products have minimal water added to them. This results in a more economical product and reduces waste. You can always add water, why pay extra for it?
  • Rub the shampoo all over including around the muzzle, lips and under the tail. These are the areas bacteria and fungi spread from, and are common causes of infection. You will find this relatively easy if you are using a sponge.
  •  It is important if using a medicated shampoo to allow time for it to work. In general, 10 minutes is required. Some other shampoos, which are known to irritate the skin, will specify shorter contact times with increased frequency of use to reduce the irritating effect. All Dermcare shampoos are low irritant. We recommend 10 minutes contact time. Your dog can do what ever it likes while waiting. Play ball or throw a stick to take its mind off being wet. If the dog does go and roll remember there is still shampoo in the coat so adding water at the time of rinsing will reactive the shampoo.
  •  Rinse thoroughly. It takes time to get rid of all the shampoo from the coat, about 5 minutes in longer haired dogs. A shower rose or hydrobath is excellent. Your pet should be "SQUEAKY” clean. If the hair doesn't squeak, there is still shampoo residue, which needs to be removed.
  •  Dry gently. Using heat or vigorous towel drying will irritate skin that is already itchy. A commercial grooming deter just blows the water out of the coat. It doesn't use heat.
  •  If you are sensitive to detergents or have hand dermatitis, we suggest you wear gloves when using any shampoo.
 

Dermatological Tip

 

Hydration of the skin will help to soothe an itchy dog's skin often for up to 24 hours. Use Dermcare Natural shampoo or Aloveen shampoo and conditioner on a regular basis to hydrate and moisturise the skin and remove surface irritants. Aloveen shampoo and conditioner have the added advantage of reducing itch.

 

Proudly Supplied by Dermcare-Vet, The Specialists in Skin Care