‘Paw’sitively in love with a clean pooch

The debate of how often to bathe your pet has been going on for years. Today, we decipher the basics of dog bathing and how you can make bath time more fun for your pooch.
–by Dr Binu Elango


Your pet’s skin and coat is an indicator of his overall health. Your companion’s shiny and conditioned hair gives it aesthetic value while also protecting the underlying skin. Bathing your pet is not only beneficial for physical wellbeing, but it also helps strengthen emotional bonding between you two. Bath time can be fun time and should be enjoyable for both of you. However, using the right technique and products for bathing and hair care of your pets is of utmost importance.

Wondering how often to bathe your pet?

The frequency may differ depending on season, coat type, breed and activity (outdoor or indoor). A dog’s skin grows a new layer of cell every 3-4 weeks, so a good rule to follow is to bathe your pet once a month. This will keep the coat clean and maintain natural oil to help condition the hair. Your pet should definitely be given a bath to control ‘doggy odours’ even when the pet spends most of their time indoor. Frequent bathing may be needed to manage medical conditions like skin diseases.

Sometimes you just have to dive in the fun!

The whole routine of bathing can become playtime for your pet, a routine they participate in wholeheartedly. It’s a time when you can bond with your pet. When your pet sees you enjoying yourself, it will make him happy too. If you seem calm and stress free your pet will share your feeling, but if you are reluctant your furry friend is also going to have a hard time. Never shout or scold your pet before, during or after bath. Treats are a great way to get on and have a positive start. Talk in an encouraging and reassuring voice so that they may not be nervous or scared.

Bathing guide to help you with the dos and don’ts

  • Brush lightly before bathing to remove any matted or tangled hair.
  • Collect all things needed within your reach so that you don’t have to leave them alone during bathing.
  • Always use lukewarm water for bathing your pet. Hot water may burn their skin and cold water may be uncomfortable. Check temperature of water with your elbow, it should be what we would use for human babies.
  • Use a dog shampoo specific to your pet’s skin, gently work into a lather and massage all over hair and skin being careful not to get it into eyes and ears.
  • Rinse thoroughly leaving behind no soap or shampoo as it might irritate your pet’s skin after drying. So rinse, rinse and repeat the rinse with clean water.
  • Drying – use a soft and absorbable microfiber towel to dry your pet right after bathing. Don’t rub very hard as it may cause tangles. In winter if you use a blow dryer be extra careful. Keep it at the lowest temperature setting and do not hold it too close or in the same place for long, keep moving the dryer.
  • Once the hair is completely dry, brush the hair using the right type of brush.

Remember to praise and pet your pet after bathing. And never use a human shampoo for dogs. It will do a lot more damage than good. Human soaps and shampoos are not suitable for your pet’s skin and hair. It may lead to itchy, dry and inflamed skin. Your pet’s skin pH is different from yours and using human products will cause irritation leading to scratching and biting.

Choosing the right shampoo – the most important aspect of hair care

Use a shampoo that’s specially formulated to cleanse and condition your pets’ skin and hair. Your pet’s shampoo should be designed for the pH of dog’s skin rather than human skin. Shampoos with natural ingredients are preferable as they are non-irritable and gentle. There are many good quality shampoos available in the market. Choose the one with high quality ingredients which is mild yet cleanses, hydrates, and conditions the hair. Ask your vet or groomer to know the best shampoo for your pet.

Healthy, shiny, and smooth hair not only enhances your pet’s look but also makes cuddling up your pet more pleasurable. So take time out for regular grooming and bathing your pet.

(Dr Binu Elango is an alumnus of Chennai Veterinary College and she has been active with pet welfare and treatment for nearly two decades. Currently she is working as ‘Product Manager’ in Cargill’s Petcare Division.)