How to Bathe a Dog with Sensitive Skin
Baths can be tough for a dog with sensitive skin. Certain soaps, hot water and too much scrubbing can be pretty uncomfortable. Fortunately, handling your pooch gently and using the right shampoo can go a long way to making Fido feel good — and smell a lot better, to boot! By using these tips, you and your sensitive canine companion will look forward to bath time.
Check With the Vet
Before you bathe your pooch, get to the root of her skin problems, recommends David Khalili, owner of Wet Paws Grooming in Beverly Hills, California.
"Sensitive skin can be caused by a variety of issues, including fleas, the food she's eating, a genetic problem, and even the shampoo that the owner is using," Khalili said. If your pup has sensitive skin or any other skin issues, skip the bath and head for the vet. How to best bathe her could depend on the underlying issue.
Use the Right Shampoo
After your vet diagnoses your pup's skin issue, use the right shampoo. Khalili recommends two particular types of shampoo for sensitive skin, depending on the issue — oatmeal-based and hypoallergenic shampoo. "I use oatmeal shampoo for dogs with dry skin. It helps the dogs feel comfortable while washing them. I also use a hypoallergenic shampoo to prevent a reaction in dogs who have contact allergies."
He says that you should always choose a shampoo that is designed for dogs with sensitive skin or one prescribed by your vet to treat a specific skin issue. And don't forget to keep the soap out of your pup's eyes and nose during the bath.
Keep Things Calm (and Fun!)
Before he starts the bath, Khalili plays with the dogs for a few minutes. "I let the dog smell my hand and pet her to get her used to being handled." He also recommends talking to her in a soothing voice to keep her calm. This not only allows the dogs to get to know him, but helps to relax them.
Your pooch may already be comfortable with you, but bath time can still make her anxious. Playing with her and giving her some cuddles in advance will also go a long way toward keeping her happy — after all, bath time should be fun, not a chore. Giving her some treats will positively reinforce the experience too. Nature's Recipe® Grain Free Biscuits Salmon & Potato Recipe are a tasty choice.
Choose the Right Temperature
When handling a pup with sensitive skin, you want the water to be at a comfortable, lukewarm temperature, somewhere between 70 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. "Warm, not too cold and not too hot, that would be the right temperature," says Khalili. "Too hot will irritate the skin. Too cold will make it uncomfortable for the dog, who will be shivering."
Use a Gentle Touch
Dogs with sensitive skin may feel a little uncomfortable during a bath, so use a gentle touch, especially when applying the shampoo to his coat. When handling a dog with hot spots or irritated skin, don't rub the skin too hard or use heavy pressure with your hands. "If the problem is only limited to dry skin, use the tips of your fingers to massage in the shampoo," Khalili says.
After a thorough rinse, gently towel dry the dog and use a soft, natural-bristle brush to smooth out the coat. The soft bristles won't irritate the skin. Although he says leave-in conditioner is used more to soften the coat and make it easier to brush, he notes that it may also help soothe dry skin too. This is because conditioner contains humectants that help moisturize both skin and coat.
Have a pup with skin issues? Learn about how to tell if he might have a skin condition right here on The Noseprint!
Photo Credit 1: "lola's bath time" by hillary h via Flickr. License info.
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