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Dog Brushing and Bathing

How often do I need to brush ?

Ummmmm...

Ummmmm...

Depends on the breed. And opinion differs. The USA’s famous animal welfare charity the ASPCA mentions most dogs actually don’t need daily brushing – every few days should be enough (1). The UK’s RSPCA says dogs need daily brushing to keep their coats healthy. (2) Of course, this will vary tremendously by breed, so ask your vet to give you a plan of how often to brush and which brushes to use. There is a vast array of dog brushes on the market and what suits one dog won’t suit another – think of the difference between a longhaired Afghan hound and a Jack Russell terrier!

Ask you vet for the right type of brush

Ask you vet for the right type of brush

How can I make brushing fun?

Some dogs positively enjoy brushing, like a mini-massage for them. For others, you may well have to take time to encourage them to see grooming as a fun activity. Find a ‘happy spot’ place in your home to brush your dog – somewhere that has previously been the source of stroking and some tasty treats from you. Whenever the dog brush comes into sight in happy spot, there should also be the inviting smell and sight of some really yummy dog treats. Not just chew sticks mind – chicken, cheese, hot dogs, etc. Keep chatting your dog in very soft, calm voice throughout, and start to brush somewhere she or he is not so fussy about. If you know they’re sensitive on their back, for example, then don’t start there, try the shoulders they don’t seem to mind as much, etc. As you start to very gently brush, you can give your dog some of that tasty, tasty food. The idea is to make associations over time that grooming is a time for super-tasty snacks, in a reassuring, calm atmosphere, banishing your pooch’s memories of stress on sight of touch of the brush, and replacing it with a much happier experience. This will take time and don’t go for broke when you first start – so what you can’t get all of the body brushed this time, there’s always tomorrow, and if your dog is developing tangles, you can always cal in professionals. It’s about you building a workable, long term relationship which makes regular grooming possible. The ASPCA has some excellent factsheets on dog grooming, including tips for handling dogs who don’t like grooming (1).

You may want to hose down or bathe if, well, covered in muck

You may want to hose down or bathe if, well, covered in muck

How often should I wash my dog’s coat?

Dogs may not actually need bathing to stay healthy as often as their owners might like to think – once every 3 months may be enough (1, 3). However, when they’ve been out happily sploshing around in whatever muddy puddle gave them that overjoyed doggie in heaven shine the eye, most owners would prefer to get the slime and mud off before their beloved pooch hits the soft furnishings and carpet. You should be wary of over-washing you dog, as deplete the natural oils in coat, which keep the hairs healthy. Ask you vet for advice on how often to wash your particular breed of dog. You may want to consider a gentle warm ‘hose-down’ or gently pouring over some pleasantly warm water to wash away the remains of all that outdoor fun instead of shampoos, if the coming home ‘dragged through hedge backwards’ is regular feature for your dog.

Click on right to check out Essential Dog Grooming for more basic dog grooming – teeth brushing is must to prevent serious disease.

IMPORTANT: This article is written for general educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional vetinary advice on any animals’ health or living needs – if you have any concerns about these, please consult a qualified vet. Thank you.

shaking dog montage by timobalk

Posted by Norma De Bloom – just love the top picture, my family had a dog looking very like this when I was a child

Useful Resources:

1. ASPCA [online] Grooming Your Dog:

http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/73/Grooming-Your-Dog-.aspx

2. RSPCA [online] Pet Care Dogs – downloadable Dog Care Sheet at:

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=DogsPetCare

3. ASCA [online]. Grooming FAQ.

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/grooming-faq.html

ASPCA [online]. Bathing Your Dog.

http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/44/Bathing-Your-Dog-.aspx

Photo Credits:

Muddy dog http://www.sxc.hu/profile/wout Wet dog http://www.sxc.hu/profile/manux Brush http://www.sxc.hu/profile/filipefrad Bathing time dog http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Vyolett Dog shaking http://www.sxc.hu/profile/timobalk

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