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What you need to know about washing & brushing your dog

When you bring any new dog home, you’re responsible not only for feeding, exercising and caring for it, but also for keeping it clean. Bathe dogs as required – talk to your vet about frequency and what types of products are safe and suitable for your particular dog.

Here’s what you need to know about washing your dog.

Frequency

While it’s important to keep your dog clean, it’s also essential that you don’t wash them too frequently. Doing so can dry out the skin, interfere with external worming and flea treatments, and may contribute to skin disorders. The general guideline is around once every four weeks, and this may vary based on their daily activities. Obviously if your dog ends up caked in mud after a walk, a bath is essential.

Shampoos and conditioners

There are plenty of dog shampoos and conditioners, traditional and organic, available from supermarkets, vets and pet stores. Do monitor your dog for any reaction the first time you use a new product and try a small amount on a small area of coat first. Talk to your vet – some dogs have skin conditions and require certain types of products to help alleviate their skin ailments.

Technique

Choose a dedicated spot to bathe your dog (many people opt for the laundry tub or in the back yard). Some dogs can become quite anxious at bath time, so be prepared for some splashing. Try and keep your dog calm, reward for calm behaviour, ensure the water is a comfortable temperature and try to make it as quick as possible. Give your dog a dedicated towel and use a hair dryer or heater to help drying in colder months (make sure they don’t get burnt and can move away if they need to). Ensure the water is kept shallow – dogs can drown.

All about brushing

It may not seem the most vital element of dog ownership, but believe it or not, dog brushing is an important part of your dog’s care. Regular grooming helps your dog feel good, look good and it may even assist in keeping them healthy, and we all want a healthy and happy pooch.

The best brushing technique

It’s a good idea to start brushing while your pup is still young, to get your dog used to regular brushing and develop a grooming routine. To start, put your puppy on your lap and begin by brushing gently around their chest area and along their back for a few minutes. Use a soothing voice to help keep them calm. As your pup becomes used to brushing, you can increase the brushing time and move to their head, paws and tail. Reward calm behaviour with food treats; this also helps to associate brushing with positive things.

Most dogs love being brushed, however if you bring home an older dog, it may be worth starting as you would with a pup. If they seem more than happy to allow you to brush them, then by all means, go ahead.

Will any brush do?

Different types of dogs may have very different coats: short, long, coarse, smooth, thick, thin. There are a variety of different brushes available for different coats, and your vet or pet shop may advise you which one is best. You would generally use a short-bristle brush or a soft-bristle grooming mitt for short-haired dogs. Long-haired dogs generally need a brush with longer bristles.

How often should I brush?

It’s a good idea to start brushing your dog while they are a young pup. The amount of brushing may depend on the coat (and your dog’s activities) but in general, aim for at least once a week.

Other options

Should you have a large, long-haired and hyperactive dog, you may be seeking alternative options when it comes to bathing. There are plenty of professional groomers available. Mobile groomers are also growing in popularity. They will generally drive a small van which contains a bathing and cleaning area, so if you like the idea of a groomer who comes to you, try an online search for mobile groomers in your local area.