4 min read


What Can Dogs Be Washed With?



4 min read


What Can Dogs Be Washed With?


Bath time — those two words are enough to send a shiver down many a dog's tail. They can also be a less-than-welcome sound to the ears of many dog owners, as bath time can often be a stressful experience for all parties. Not only do you have to deal with fearful dogs and the chance of ending up soaking wet, but it can also be difficult to work out exactly what you need to use to wash your furry friend.

But if you've got a good-quality dog shampoo and a few other key ingredients at your disposal, washing your dog can be a much simpler and more enjoyable task. Let's take a closer look at what dogs can be washed with and what you need to do to give your canine companion a bath.


Signs Your Dog Needs a Bath

What's that smell? If there's an unpleasant doggy odor hanging around your house, that's often a pretty reliable indicator that your dog is due for a bath. Unless your dog has a special skin or coat condition, vets advise that we should only wash our dogs when necessary — and a smell strong enough to make your eyes water is a surefire sign it's bath time.

The other sign you'll notice straight away is if your dog is dirty. Dirt and mud can accumulate in your pet's coat surprisingly quickly, which can not only make him look less than his best but can also lead to the formation of knots and tangles. To ensure that your pet's skin and coat stay in the best possible condition, it's time to grab the doggy shampoo and get ready for a soaking.

Body Language

Dogs can use their body language to indicate that they're fearful or anxious about having a bath. Signs include:<br/>

  • Growling
  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Cowering
  • Panting

Other Signs

Other signs your dog hates baths include:<br/>

  • Running Away At Bath Time
  • Whimpering
  • Ears Back

The History of Washing Dogs


No-one can say for certain when humans first started grooming their canine companions, but there are more than a few historical indicators that show we've been helping our pets with their hygiene for a very long time. In ancient Rome, for example, Poodles were a popular breed among the wealthy and the style of the time was to have their hair clipped like a lion.

While grooming was sometimes done for fashion, it could also serve a practical purpose. For example, in the 1500s, Germans groomed the heavy coats of their water dogs to ensure that they were faster and agiler on the job.

Of course, somewhere along the way in our shared history with dogs, we started looking after our furry friends' grooming requirements more and more. As we've increasingly welcomed our dogs into our lives and homes, our awareness of their sometimes-unpleasant doggy odors has no doubt increased.

Records from France during the time of King Louis XV include the first official records of dog grooming parlors, while professional dog groomers are also thought to have emerged during the 18th century.

Today, our knowledge of pet grooming has come a long way. Pets can be washed with specifically formulated canine shampoos designed to soothe skin, enhance coats, and smell great. They can also visit top-of-the-line grooming salons and be pampered all day long, ensuring that they come home at the end of the day looking, smelling and feeling like a million bucks.

The Science of Washing Dogs


Why is it so important to wash your dog? Sure, that strong doggy smell can get a little overwhelming if they go without a bath for too long, but baths are also essential to stop dirt from accumulating in the coat, remove loose hair and debris, and produce an impressive shine. And for those dogs with skin problems, regular bathing may even be part of the course of treatment recommended by your veterinarian.

As for the question, "what can dogs be washed with?", the answer is, "a shampoo designed specifically for dogs!" Human shampoos should never be used — our skin has different pH levels than dogs' skin, so human shampoo can damage your pet's skin.

There's a huge range of doggy shampoos available, from all-purpose cleansers to shampoos for dry skin, oily skin, doggy dandruff, and special skin conditions. If you're not sure which one is the best choice for your furry friend, ask your veterinarian for advice.

Training Your Dog to Enjoy Washing


If your dog absolutely hates baths, there are plenty of simple things you can do to help him come to enjoy regular washing. 

The first thing to do is help your pet get used to the idea of being handled. There's a good chance your pooch will be quite sensitive about being touched on some areas of his body — the paws and ears are common no-go zones — so getting your pooch used to the idea of being massaged (just like you would when washing him) or touched in general can work wonders.

The same goes for getting him used to any new or unusual (to your dog's eyes) equipment you might use during washing, such as the hose or the bathtub. Introducing your pet to these items in a no-pressure scenario, for example standing in a dry tub, and rewarding calm behavior with treats and praise can be a big help.

Finally, try to do whatever else you can to make the process as relaxed and stress-free as possible. If your dog is nervous of standing in the tub, get a non-slip mat. If Fido is always tentative around water, don't just sneak up on him and tip a bucket of water over his head. Take things slowly, reward with treats, and be prepared to get a little bit wet and messy.

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Dog Washing Safety Tips

  1. Use a dog shampoo. Only use a shampoo that has been specifically formulated for use on dogs. Human shampoo dries out their skin and can also invite bacteria and parasites.
  2. Get your pooch used to being handled. Try to get your pooch used to the idea of being handled from a young age. Not only will this make bath time easier, it can also make visits to the veterinarian a whole lot less stressful.
  3. Take it slow. If your dogs hates baths or just water in general, introduce them to bathing as slowly and gently as possible. Give plenty of treats and praise to reward calm behavior and to help your pooch associate bath time with positive things.
  4. Dry them properly. Don't forget to dry your pooch off after a bath, especially in winter. Hypothermia is a very real risk in colder areas.

By a Labrador Retriever lover Tim Falk

Published: 02/01/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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