How to keep your dog clean

How to Keep Your Dog Clean
I once met someone who said he liked dogs but wouldn't keep one because "all dogs smell". I told him that wasn't true. He responded that he grew up with a dog that always smelled. I shot back by saying the dog smelled because he wasn't taking proper care of it.

I know I probably offended this person, but I wanted to make a point. Any living creature will smell foul after awhile if its hygiene and nutritional needs aren't met. I'm sure we've all met actual people who have that problem. And the only thing I could focus on during my conversation with this individual was how his poor dog must've felt, emanating a stink day in and day out, but no one would help him because his owners figured that was normal, because "all dogs smell".

Dogs enjoy being clean as much as most people do. Unfortunately, they often need human assistance to maintain their hygiene. They really don't need fancy and expensive soaps to stay smelling fresh though. Heck, I wash my dog with only baking soda and apple cider vinegar and he does not smell at all.

However, it's important for pet owners to keep in mind that every dog has different needs when it comes to maintaining hygiene and health.


Dogs don't require baths as frequently as people do. In fact, bathing your dog too often probably isn't a good idea, as it is beneficial to allow some of their natural oils to develop over their skin and fur. Some dogs can go for as long as a month without a bath, others may need a bath every week. It really depends on the dog's activity level and what kind of environments it comes in contact with.

If you're dog spends a lot of time indoors, and only takes walks on footpaths of well-manicured parks, then it probably doesn't need a bath as often as a dog who spend all day outdoors rolling in the mud.

A dog's personal body chemistry has a lot to do with it too. For example, my dog lives in the city and gets his exercise by running around a well-maintained park, but for some reason he has very oily skin. This means after a little more than a week without a bath he becomes very anxious as his skin becomes irritated and fur becomes matted from all the built up oil. Just like people, dogs can suffer from skin that is too dry or too oily. It is up to the owners to figure what bath schedule works best.


Did you know there is more than one way to brush dog's fur?

How a dog's coast should be brushed and groomed doesn't just depend on whether it has short or long hair, but the kind of hair they have. Many short-haired dogs shed a lot more often, which means it's important to groom their coats often to help them get rid of the dead layers of fur underneath. Long-haired dogs may require more thorough brushing and trimming to prevent painful knots. Then there are wiry-haired dogs whose coats need to be stripped, a special kind of grooming process, to get the dead fur out.

Dogs whose coats aren't groomed properly are more likely to develop strange smells and even skin conditions due to all the dead hair and skin cells they're carrying around with them. If you're not sure how best to brush out your dog's coat, consult a vet or a grooming professional.

Oral hygiene

I mentioned this in a previous post about how important it is to maintain a dog's oral hygiene. Just like people, a dog whose teeth aren't properly and regularly cleaned can develop bad breath and gum disease, which can also result in death. It is extremely important to keep your dog's mouth healthy not just so it'll have fresh breath, but for the sake of its health.

Expressing anal glands

I'm always surprised to meet a dog owner who doesn't know about the dog's anal glands. A dog's anal glands, located on either side of its rectal opening, and secretes this horrible, awful smelling fluid that is actually your dog's signature scent. Every time your dog does its business, this scent is also released, letting other dogs know where yours has been.

Expelling anal glands is a bit of a controversial practice. Some say dogs' anal glands should not be expressed unless there is an actual problem; along the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" line of thinking. Others say a dog's anal glands should be expressed regularly to prevent the possibility of them becoming impacted and rupturing, in which case emergency surgery would be needed.

If you do not feel your dog needs to have his glands expressed regularly, at least keep an eye on them and make sure to regularly check that they are not swollen or causing your dog discomfort. One clear sign that your dog's anal glands are not being expressed enough on their own and may be impacted is when your pet begins to scoot his butt along the floor. This is an indication that the glands may need to be drained, and if you don't know how to do it, consult your veterinarian.

Nutrition and diet

Keeping a dog clean isn't just about how often it is washed and groomed. Nutrition and diet are also important in keeping a dog "clean" by boosting its immunity and keeping its body chemistry balanced. In people, being poorly nourished or suffering from poor health can sometimes cause bad breath and/or result in the body emitting certain odors. It's the same deal with dogs.

You are what you eat, and dogs are what they eat. Make sure your dog is getting the proper nutrients in its diet and isn't consuming foods that are hazardous to its health. You'd be surprised by how many foods are considered toxic to dogs.

Sleep areas and toys

If you shower regularly every day, it isn't going to do you a whole lot of good if your clothes haven't been washed in months and your bed is filthy. It's the same thing with your dog.

Remember to clean your dog's sleeping area and wash its bedding often. Make sure its chew toys are also regularly cleaned and/or replaced so that your pet isn't chewing on the same bacteria-infested playthings.


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