==> "A Bath is for the Soul - A Shower is for the Body"
Rights and Wrongs about bathing your dog
and how to secure a healthy hygiene easily
GSD - Bath or Shower
You can find a lot information on this topic online, some of which is right, a lot of which is wrong.
Find out more: Click to save vet cost, training cost, and your nerves!
Every dog owner faces this dilemma many times during the dog's life: When your German Shepherd is ill, particularly when there's a Skin Infection or Skin Allergy, you don't want to make things worse with a lack of hygiene or the wrong hygiene regime, right?
Just under 10% percent of you have a Long Coat German Shepherd, which (if filled in correctly) means your dog has no undercoat (well, more precise detail you will get in a future Periodical on hair growth). You may find it easier to clean your dog, however you also need to be more careful on the skin: A lack of undercoat means higher risk of skin lesions, not only during grooming.
47% of you have a Short Coat German Shepherd. If filled in correctly (there is a brief description of each coat type as hover text right on the subscribe page), this means your dog has a short-hair toplayer over a dense undercoat. You know that cleaning your dog is comparatively easy and that you can (and need to) rub more intensely (but gently) to clean the skin under the undercoat.
All others have a GSD with a Long Stock Coat or Plush Coat, meaning your dog has a long-hair toplayer over a dense undercoat (either flat and fairly harsh hair, or plush and soft hair respectively). You may need to double the amounts I mention below, and you may also wish to double the cleaning frequency since your dog's coat provides a perfect hiding place for dirt, parasites, and bacteria.
Explanations follow in context.
Don't just read online - but think
Always think about what you read: If a text holds many punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors, we cannot and we shouldn't expect the technical content to be any better! When I read online, most websites fall into this category: Created by bloggers on a whim (possibly on the cheap too: in developing countries). Thus I leave those sites immediately. Saves time and nerves.
Rather than complaining "I've got no time" (say to wash my dog), save time and nerves: Quit reading, listening, watching, and waiting whenever you notice a) bad quality or b) it's not helpful to you.*
* Bad quality indicators: punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors; loose, illogical, non-sequitur; mostly statements and fillers, few why's and because's; no meta insight.
Not helpful to you indicators: gossip and propaganda; commercials; queues to nothing of value.
Similarly, many sources - online (internet) as well as offline (books and dog magazines) - scare us with warnings like: "Do not bathe your dog more than once or twice yearly" - and similar frequency advice. And you may wonder, like I did: "What's the problem, my dog is swimming every week, and this hasn't harmed either". Right?
So, before we go into detail, let's be clear here and mention what others forget to mention:
When can bathing be a problem?
Full-body water exposure is not a problem for the GSD (within limits of course), whether or not our dog is from a family line bred for water sports or hunting. German Shepherds cope well with bathing and swimming alike, both health-wise and behavior-wise (except maybe if traumatized from some prior experience). In fact, even a 20-min swim or bath every day would not at all harm our dog's skin and coat.
Limitations for bathing our dog should explicitely refer to:
- The use of shampoo and similar cleaning products. It is primarily this factor that can quickly impact on our dog's health and behavior (see below why).
- A much smaller factor is that parasites or bacteria can use the water as a carrier to easily transit the entrances of our dog's body openings - particularly anus, genitals, and ears - all of which have no autoimmune reflex to 'flush' back out unwelcome intruders. The other openings do have this: the nose sends the stimulus to sneeze, the eyes to close and to produce tear fluid with lysozyme that kills bacteria, the mouth to cough and to produce saliva with lysozyme. However, this refers to bathing in open, standing (and hence very likely infected) waters, rather than bathing our dog at home in clean tub water!
- Another factor is that bathing our dog can dry out its skin when the slightly oily protection layer has been carried away with the water. However, this too is very unlikely to be caused by clean tub water: a) You would have to bathe your dog very long and often (say twice daily for an hour each, which you won't consider anyway), because the protection layer of the outer skin (epidermis) fully replenishes within 12 hours, and b) the GSD skin pH is much closer to that of water than our own!
In fact, bathing our dog is primarily about skin pH (cutaneous pH), so let's briefly explain this as well.
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Disclaimer: Always apply your own common sense when you follow anyone's suggestions. As much as your dog is special (s)he may react different too.
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