Washing your dog is important, but not as important as some people think. Healthy dogs actually don’t need to be washed all that often, but humans prefer to bathe them so that they have a more pleasing smell and appearance. Doggie bath time is a good time to spend with the dog, however.
Although most of them don’t like to be washed, they will appreciate the contact and attention that they receive from their owners during a bath. It is also a good time to perform some other necessary “dog maintenance” such as cleaning the ears, checking for ticks and fleas, and brushing the teeth. Since many dogs do not like to sit still for any of these activities, it can be a good idea to do them all at once.
Brushing your dogs’ teeth is just good dental hygiene. Most vets recommend that it be done at least twice a week to ensure your dog maintains healthy teeth and gums. If you’ve not been doing this (and, unfortunately, many people don’t) it’s never too late to start. The dog should have its own toothbrush and special toothpaste designed for dogs. Make sure you brush the back teeth in small circles, the same way you would your own, and brush up and down the length of the “pointy” canine teeth. Dog toothpaste is made to have a pleasing taste (for the dog, don’t try it yourself) and this should make the dog willing to let you perform this activity.
Ticks are nasty little arachnids (they’re eight-legged creatures like spiders, and therefore are not insects) that will latch onto your dog’s skin and make its blood their meal ticket. They are most common in wooded areas, but your dog should be checked for them regularly because they can carry a number of diseases. The best place to look for these bugs in under the collar or on the dog’s underbelly, buried in the fur. If found they can be removed with tweezers.
Fleas can be found in the same places, under the fur. The presence of fleas can be betrayed by the sight of their droppings on the dog’s coat. They look like flecks of pepper. The fleas themselves look like bits of brown rice. They’re about an eighth of an inch long. They can’t simply be picked off of the dog like ticks can, but finding them will let you know its time to start the dog on a program to control and eliminate the insects.
Pet supply stores sell special solutions for cleansing a dog’s ears. Dogs can easily get ear mites, small insects which live in the ears and feed of the waxy secretions there. Over time the bodies of these short-lived creatures build up and form a black, dirty substance. Using a cotton swab dipped in a bit of this solution, gently clean the inner ear. It may be difficult to hold the dog still for this procedure, but it doesn’t take long. And the result will be clean ears and the avoidance of potential infection and earaches in the dog.
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