Splish Splash: Tips and Tools for Brushing and Bathing Your Dog

Splish Splash: Tips and Tools for Brushing and Bathing Your Dog

Kim Irwin

Welcome to the ultimate guide to bathing and brushing your pup! If it's that time again and Fido is looking and smelling a bit dodgy, jump right in and find out how to keep your doggo looking their best while ensuring they are in tip-top shape. You're in the right place to discover the best bathtime supplies and master the art of bathing and brushing. We've got you covered, so get ready to turn your canine companion into the talk of the dog park!

well groomed Hairless Chinese Crested dog

Top & Tail Grooming Checkup

Before you get started, why not play a little game of 'Sherlock Bones'? Give your best buddy a good 'look-over' and turn into a grooming detective by asking yourself the following questions:

Is your dog's coat more matted than a shaggy rug? If so, booking a spa day with a professional groomer might be time.

Next, it's time for a 'paws-e' - have you checked your pup's toes for any unwanted hitchhikers like grass, sticks, or thorns?

Now, let's play detective with your dog's ears. Are they looking a bit red? Maybe there's some swelling or discharge? If your pup's ears are ringing alarm bells, it's time to dive deeper into the world of canine ear care.

Finally, don't forget to give your dog's skin a close-up. Any signs of redness, swelling or sores could mean your pup needs some extra TLC during their bath and brush or even a trip to the vet. Remember, a healthy pup is a happy pup!

Soft and silky german shepherd getting brushed.

The Brush-Off: Coming to Grips with the Right Brush

Alright, detective, now that you've aced the Top & Tail Check, it's brushing mission time. The first tool in your grooming arsenal? A brush tailored to your dog's fur type. Remember, every breed is unique, so pick a brush that suits your pup's coat to a 'T'.

A Game Changer for Smooth-Coated Dogs

A rubber curry comb is your go-to if your furry friend is a short-haired breed like a Chihuahua or Dachshund. It might not look like much, but trust us; it's a game-changer.

Well, Hi There! Secret Weapon

Got a short-haired dog with a slightly thicker coat, a medium-length coat, or even a long-haired breed? Say hello to the Furmaster. This tool is your secret weapon against the never-ending battle of shedding. It's designed to gently yet effectively remove dead hair and loose fur from your dog's undercoat without harming their skin or ruining their coat's appearance.

Get Result With A Slicker Brush

And for those with long-haired breeds like Afghan Hounds or Poodles, a slicker brush with closely set bristles is your best bet. This tool is perfect for tackling any 'heavy-duty' brushing tasks that might come your way.

The slicker brushed is also ideal for minor de-matting problems. For the most effective results, gently tease the knots undone. When your doggo is mat-free, regularly use a comb to remove pesky tangles from your pup's coat. A wide-tooth comb can easily glide through thick fur without causing unnecessary pain or pulling out too much hair in the process.

German Shepherd holds brush in its mouth, sitting on the kitchen floor

The Brush-Up: Essential Tips for Brushing Your Dog's Coat

Brushing your dog's coat is an essential part of any grooming routine. Not only does it keep your pup looking great, but regular brushing helps distribute natural oils throughout their fur to keep it healthy and shiny. To get the most out of brushing your pup's coat, here are a few tips to follow:

Selecting the Perfect Brush: As Dictated by Your Doggo

Remember, your pup's coat type dictates the kind of brush you need. If you're still unsure after reading the 'Brush Off', don't hesitate to consult your groomer for advice.

The Art of Brushing:

Start at the head and gently work your way towards the tail, brushing down each side of the body in a smooth motion. Use short, even strokes when using a rubber brush or the Furmaster.

For long-haired dogs rather brush out their coat layer by layer than repeatedly brush over the same area. Be gentle to avoid pulling on any knots or tangles, which can cause discomfort and skin irritation.

Take extra care when brushing over joints and down the lower legs where there is little muscle or fat between the skin and the bones. There's a world of difference between brushing a plump Golden Retriever and when brushing a sleek Whippet!

Sensitive Areas Need Special Attention:

When brushing areas like the ears, underbelly and tail, proceed with extra care. These areas are prone to tangling and matting and often require professional grooming skills.

When to Brush and When to Book a Grooming Appointment:

If your dog's coat is excessively matted or tangled, consider a trip to the groomer. They can restore your pup's coat to a manageable state, setting the stage for a regular brushing routine that prevents future tangles.

Post-Brushing Inspection: A Closer Look

After you've brushed your dog's coat, it's time to play detective again. Take a closer look at your doggo's skin, keeping an eye out for any signs of potential health issues that may need veterinary attention.

A long-hair mixed breed doggo sits looking up at the camera. Next to him is a pile of hair because he's just been brushed.

Decoding the Brushing Calendar: When and How Often to Brush Your Pooch

For long-haired dogs and dogs with fine coats that easily mat, it's a good idea to brush out the coat every second day or at a minimum once a week. Make primary use of the slicker brush.

Once a week also applies to double-coated dogs; use the Furminator to remove any loose or dead fur and save your vacuum from excess fur!

For short hair dogs that don't shed heavily, run a rubber curry comb or rubber message brush firmly over their coats every couple of weeks or when you notice any shedding.

Remember, once you have bathed your dog, it'll be necessary once their coat is dry to brush their fur again. By this time, all the hard work will be done, and you'll just be bringing out the shine and smoothing over their coat. There'll be no question who has the shiniest coat. Why, it's your doggo!

Wet dog in the bath with his little ducky toy.

Bathing Essentials: Your Dog's Spa Day at Home!

Ready to turn bath time into a splash-tastic fun fest? The secret is all in the supplies. With the right products, you can transform your pet from Ms Scruffy to Ms Spectacular! Petworld.co.za is choc-a-block full of all things bath-related. So, let's get going and uncover the essential items that will make your furry friend the cleanest, happiest pup in town!

Bubbles and Barks: A Guide to Dog Shampoo

A quality dog shampoo is an absolute must-have for any responsible pet parent. It's important to choose a product that is specifically designed for dogs, as human shampoos are too harsh for canine skin and fur. Also, avoid harmful substances like Sunlight or Handy Andy. Look for a shampoo that's made with natural ingredients and doesn't contain any harsh chemicals or artificial fragrances.

Opt for an organic, biodegradable, ozone-friendly option like Complete Pet Conditioning Dog Shampoo, which is specially formulated to be mild enough for regular use. For shiny, clean coats and easy brushing, this shampoo and conditioner in one are fine to use on all skin types.

Consider Marltons Tea Tree Shampoo for Dogs. This moisturising and soothing tea-tree dog shampoo is a dual-action shampoo with Tea Tree that will clean your dog and double up as a treatment for various allergies. The tea tree oil in the shampoo can heal dry, damaged skin, kill yeast, fleas and scabies, and soothe the itchy skin caused by airborne allergens.

If your dog has sensitive skin, try Rooibos & Chamomile Hypoallergenic Shampoo for Dogs & Cats. It is made with organic rooibos and chamomile flowers and is soothing, gentle and mild for sensitive skin.

For issues like yeast, bacteria, and fungi, F10 Germicidal Treatment Shampoo is a dermatological preparation that is also effective in keeping other skin diseases under control.

For dogs with black or white coats, there are Flamingo Black Coat and White Coat shampoos containing macadamia oil which helps maintain hydration and natural oils while enhancing shine and silkiness.

Puppies require puppy shampoo. Kyron Puppy-Mild is a gentle, low-foaming conditioning shampoo scientifically formulated to suit the needs of puppies. Sebaceous glands, which produce natural oils that lubricate a dog's skin and coat, are usually underactive in puppies. Puppy-Mild contains a unique blend of mild surfactants, conditioning agents, moisturisers and mildness additives to effectively clean but not strip the coat of its natural oils.

Conditioners: The Secret to Lustrous Dog Coats

For long hair or those needing extra shine, consider a conditioner like Tropiclean Conditioner Lime Cocoa Butter or Riverhound Hypoallergenic Conditioner, which features organic coconut oil for sensitive skin; it provides unrivalled moisturising and conditioning benefits, making it easier to brush and giving hair a healthy high shine. It is also safe for puppies six weeks and older.

Detanglers: Smooth Sailing and No More Knots

Kyron Purl Detangling Shampoo is specially formatted for long-haired dogs; it conditions the coat and hair while making combing easier. It owes its excellent detangling properties to specialised conditioning actives, including cosmetic silicones and coconut derivatives. Flamingo Petcare Detangling Spray helps to detangle your long-haired dog's knotted hair for days. It's an after-drying product, and to use it, you spray it over your dog's coat before brushing.

The Fragrance Fido Can't Resist

For the ultimate in after-bath fragrances, choose TropiClean Baby Powder Cologne. It is scientifically developed with high-quality, safe and natural ingredients to ensure that your pets look and also feel their best. This versatile product also conditions and reduces static on the coat. The long-lasting fresh tropical flavour smells great for several days. 

Young golden retriever being bathed in a tin bath.

Doggy Paddle: Navigating the Waters of Dog Bathing

Bath time is more than just a chore; it's a crucial part of pet care that, when done right, turns into a fun bonding session. So, let's get ready with the doggy bathing essentials!

First things first, you've got to pick the perfect shampoo and conditioner for your pup's fur type. This is the secret sauce to having a fresh-smelling, cuddly pooch lounging on your couch. But wait, there's more to the bathing toolkit!

Arm yourself with a couple of towels - one for your soon-to-be sparkling clean dog and one for you because, let's face it, bath time can get a bit splashy. An old toothbrush is also handy, and don't forget the cotton balls!

Lastly, unless you're planning on turning bath time into a pool party, a waterproof apron or raincoat is a must-have. Now you're all set to make a splash at bath time! So, roll up those sleeves; your pooch is waiting!

Small brown and white dog with huge ears, stands drenched in the bath tub.

Soak, Suds, and Safety

First up, make sure your dog's coat is soaked: All the way through! This isn't just a quick splash and dash, oh no! You want to make sure every strand of fur is ready to be thoroughly washed.

Next, it's time for the star of the show - the shampoo. Slather it on liberally. Work it into a rich, foamy lather and give your dog the massage of a lifetime. But remember, while you're playing doggy day spa, be careful not to get any shampoo in your dog's eyes (Ouch! It stings), ears, or nose.

A couple of pro tips: pop said cotton balls just at the entrance of the ear canals to keep the shampoo and water out. Use that old toothbrush thoroughly wet, add a drop of shampoo, and lightly 'brush' your dog's head and cheeks. To rinse off, read on!

family rinses off old english bulldog with hose while it sits in a tub on the lawn.

Heads Down, It's Rinse Off!

Next comes rinsing the shampoo off your dog's coat. Heads up! To rinse the shampoo off your dog's face, gently hold down its nose and delicately pour water down over the face until the shampoo is washed away. A proper rinse technique is to thoroughly rinse off your dog and then do it all over again a second time. Yip, twice is the number.

If it's a very thick coated breed, like a Husky, feel with your hand that there is no shampoo trapped under the fur. This is important because residual shampoo can cause hotspots and itching. Furthermore, it contributes to bacteria-free skin and coat. It's also important to keep an eye on the water temperature - too hot or cold can lead to discomfort and distress for your pup.

From Wet to Wow: Drying Your Dog After a Bath

Once bath time is finished, it's essential to dry off your hound - and yourself - with a towel and then, if necessary, use a blow dryer on their coat. Pay special attention to the heat of the dryer; remember, not too hot! A sunny spot works wonders by drying off their coat and giving your dog a chance to chill out and relax.

freshly washed st bernard sits on the grass

Glamour Shots!

For glamourous long-haired dogs or fluffy double-coated breeds, brush gently with a slicker brush while drying. Your superstar, i.e., your beloved doggo, will boast a soft, clean and silky coat. Plus, this will remove any remaining pesky loose or dead hair. Your time spent brushing and de-matting your dog's coat before the bath will make cleaning up a whole lot easier. Once your dog is dry, a final brush-over will add the finishing touch to their fab new look. Selfies anyone?

How Often Should I Bath My Dog?

Provided your dog doesn't go playing in the mud or roll in 'something awful', the recommended amount of time between baths is about eight weeks. Persistent over-bathing can cause the natural oils to be stripped away, and then the sebaceous glands go into overdrive, producing more oil which leads to a surplus of oils which, ironically, causes your dog to smell, and then you bath her again, repeating the cycle. So, unless your dog is a mud magnet or a connoisseur of foul odours, try to stick to the eight-week rule to keep their coat healthy and their skin comfortable.

Bulldog mix holds hands with its owner

The Art of Dog Nail Trimming: Tools, Techniques, and Tips

Trimming your pet's nails is a crucial part of the grooming process. To do this without causing discomfort or harm, it's important to have the right tools at your disposal. A dog-specific nail clipper and styptic powder should be staples in your grooming kit. Remember, using human nail clippers can lead to serious injuries as they are not designed for pets. Moreover, a sharp dog nail trimmer can help avoid nail splitting or cracking during the trimming process.

Avoiding the Quick: A Guide to Trimming Your Dog's Nails

When it's time to trim your dog's nails, hold the paw firmly but gently, in a way that allows you to see the underside of the nails. Always trim in this direction, as it makes it easier to see where the quick (the pink part inside each nail) ends. The nerve in your dog's nails extends right up to the end of the quick, so cutting beyond this point can cause significant pain for your dog. If you accidentally cut too deep and the nail starts to bleed, apply some styptic powder to stop the bleeding.

Pet stylist grooming a Maltese Poodle

Nail Trimming: When It's Time to Call in the Pros

If the task of nail trimming seems too daunting or complicated (like nail grinding), it might be best to leave it to the professionals. Their expertise ensures that the job gets done correctly and safely every time! If you're among those who are apprehensive about potentially hurting their dogs by incorrectly trimming their nails, a professional groomer is your safest bet.

The Safe Route: Pop Into Your Local Doggy Parlour

Many dog grooming parlours offer nail trimming as a stand-alone service, so you can always pop in for a quick nail trim between full grooming sessions. Remember, when it comes to nail trimming, it's always better to err on the side of caution, as incorrect trimming can cause discomfort or pain for your pup.

Vet examines Old English Bulldog's ear.

Listen Up: Ear Care for Dogs

Finally, it's important to invest in an effective ear-cleaning solution for your pet, too; as the accumulation of wax and dirt can lead to irritation and cause infection if left unchecked over time. Choose an ear cleaner formulated specifically for dogs - this will help ensure maximum effectiveness while remaining gentle. If there are any signs of the skin being broken due to infection or 'wear and tear', do not use an ear cleaner and see your vet straightaway.

Chocolate and white border collie, with cocked ear and different colour eyes.

Sniff Test: The Importance of Smelling Your Dog's Ears

You should always check your pup's ears for any signs of ear infection, such as redness, swelling, discharge or a yucky smell, before cleaning them with an ear-cleaning solution. It's always a good idea to go ahead and smell your dog's ears right now while they're healthy, so you'll quickly know when something goes wrong and it starts to pong. Click here for a detailed look at ear infections in pets. Make sure not to insert anything into the ear canal itself, as this can cause damage to sensitive tissue inside.

Treat Time: Rewarding Your Pup Post-Ear-Cleaning Session

If you have any doubts about how to clean your pet's ears safely and effectively, it is always best to seek guidance from a vet before proceeding because ear infections can be painful for your doggo. Be sure to give them Petworld special treats after every session to reward them for being such a good pup, and make sure to provide plenty of praise as well.

Dog sits in bath tube, suds all over the place

Wrapping Up: The Last Word on Bathing and Brushing

And there you have it - the whole shebang! A comprehensive guide to dog bathing and brushing! Remember to suss out your dog's coat type and check for any matting or skin issues. Every breed has unique coat needs, so let that be your guide when it comes to choosing a shampoo and a brush. Regular grooming not only keeps your pet looking fab and photo-ready; it also contributes to their overall health. So, turn grooming sessions into a fun bonding experience with your bestest bud. After all, a well-groomed dog is a happy dog. Now, go forth and groom!