All dogs will need to have a bath from time to time. The most common reason that we bathe Fido is because he is dirty or smelly. Less commonly dogs will develop some type of dermatitis, inflammation of the skin, that will be treated with a medicated shampoo and possibly a leave on product or dip.
Regardless of the reason for the bath the shampoo used should be one that is specifically formulated for dogs. The pH of dog skin is different than the pH of human skin and the use of a human shampoo on your dog could result in dermatitis. The variety of dog shampoos today can be overwhelming but if you are just seeking to get your friend shiney and clean there are a few simple rules to follow. First and foremost-dog shampoo only, secondly avoid heavily scented products-just like people some dogs can be sensitive to perfumes and third look for something that is tearless.
The best place to purchase a shampoo is your veterinary office. Not only do they know your dog and his particular needs and sensitivities they obtain their “everyday” shampoos from the companies that produce the medicated shampoos your veterinarian trusts. Groomers and pet stores also carry shampoos for home use. Again these shampoos are safe to use as long as you are purchasing something to get your dog clean. If there is a specific skin problem that you are trying to remedy it is best to consult your veterinarian instead of making a purchase based on the recommendation of a groomer or pet store staff.
There a variety of shampoos designed to treat skin conditions in dogs. They range from shampoos used to treat fleas and ticks to oily skin to fungal or bacterial infections. The list is extensive and your veterinarian will know which one is most appropriate for your dog and his specific problem. The medicated shampoo that your veterinarian prescribes will have been developed and produced by a pharmaceutical company that knows the changes in the skin and coat that occur in each type of dermatitis and how to correct them. The “medicated” shampoos found at your groomer or local pet store are not a product of medical research and could be ineffective or worse harmful.
The timing and technique of bathing is also dependent on the reason for bathing. The average dog with healthy skin should not be bathed more frequently than every 2 weeks and usually less often than that. If your dog goes out and gets dirty but not smelly a good rinsing with plain water will take care of the problem. On the other hand if they have a strong odor a good thorough shampoo is the way to go. In areas where dogs have access to some sort of creek, river, pond, etc. shampooing may be necessary more frequently, you may want to consult with your veterinarian as to which product has the least drying effects. If your dog has been prescribed a shampoo by the doctor then the instructions will include the frequency of shampoos and the amount of time that the shampoo needs to be in contact with the skin.