We don’t often consider dog grooming, bathing & hygiene important for our dog’s overall health, but their cleanliness plays a significant role in their well-being. From regular bathing and brushing their teeth, nail clipping, and washing their food bowl, your dog’s hygiene regimen should come close to mirroring your own. 
At Eureka Animal Clinic, we work extremely hard to bring you the correct information you need, so we’ve taken the most frequently asked questions about dog hygiene and answered them here as thoroughly and accurately as possible.

If you’re looking for a highly trained veterinarian in Miami, FL, we are here to help ensure you have a good understanding of your dog’s needs when it comes to grooming and hygiene. Feel free to give us a call at (305) 842-3228.

What does my dog need when it comes to grooming and hygiene?

Good dog hygiene depends on the dog, as some dogs need a bath twice a week while others go to the groomer just once a month for bathing, grooming, and coat brushing. Every two to four weeks is standard if you bathe your dog at home. However, if your dog has issues with scaly skin, skin infections, or bacterial infections, they might require a different frequency. A hygiene regimen also depends on your dog’s lifestyle. A small lap dog that’s often held and stays indoors most of the time won’t need a bath as often as a large labrador that rolls in the dirt and chases squirrels. Your dog’s daily activities play a significant role in how dirty they get and how often you need to bathe them or take them to a dog grooming facility. 

In addition to bathing, a good hygiene regimen also includes nail trimming and brushing their teeth. While nails only need to be trimmed when they get too long, you should brush your dog’s teeth every day to avoid health issues associated with plaque and tartar build-up. 

How does keeping my dog clean contribute to good health?

Your dog’s cleanliness is a significant factor in their overall health, with proper hygiene being a contributor to the condition of their hair, skin, and teeth.

Dog grooming contributes to a dog’s health in the following ways:

  • Removes burrs and other potentially painful debris stuck in their hair coats
  • Reduces matting
  • Avoids sores and skin infections
  • Relieves dry skin and infections in dogs that swim regularly
  • Avoids periodontal disease with regular teeth brushing
  • Allows for comfortable walking and better traction with nail trimming

What about dental hygiene? Is brushing my dog's teeth an important aspect of overall good hygiene?

Teeth brushing is one of the most important things you can do for your pet to keep them healthy. If you lift their lips, you can see they have large canine teeth, premolars, and molars in the back of their mouths. If you don't brush their teeth, they will develop a brown deposit. Without daily brushing, that deposit multiplies and will eventually cause periodontal disease and dental pain. Lack of teeth-brushing can lead to significant long-term health issues with your dog’s heart and kidneys due to bacteria from plaque and tartar entering their bloodstream. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) details the importance of oral health in dogs and the causes of the most common dental problems. 

How do I brush my dog’s teeth?

When brushing your dog’s teeth, you want to brush the outer surface in a circular motion with a regular toothbrush and some flavored dog toothpaste. You're going to work your way along their outer teeth. Since we find minimal disease on the inner surfaces, and it's much harder to get your dog to open their mouth wide enough, you don't really need to clean the inside of their teeth unless you've already perfected brushing the outside with their cooperation. 

How can I find the right bathing products for my dog?

There are countless products available for dog hygiene, so it’s somewhat of a trial-and-error process to see what works best for your dog. Pet stores have several dog-specific options for you to choose from. However, if your dog has skin infections or other skin-related issues, check with your veterinarian for their recommendation. Never use human shampoo or conditioner on your dog, as human skin pH is very different from a dog’s. Using human products will result in excessive drying and discomfort. It’s also best to avoid anything with a powerful fragrance, as those products can overwhelm a dog’s heightened sense of smell.

Why is it important to clean my dog's bed, bowls, collar, leash, and toys regularly?

When it comes to cleaning your dog’s bed, bowls, collar, leash, and toys, consider how often you wash your own possessions. You clean your sheets regularly, wash your dishes daily, and sanitize anything that is a feeding ground for bacteria. Your dog needs that same attention to cleanliness, especially since they have more hair and shed more skin. Wash your dog’s bed at least every month or two, put their food bowls in the dishwasher at least weekly, and clean their toys weekly. If they have any clothes or bedding, wash those regularly as well — just as you would your own. 

What are some signs and symptoms of poor hygiene in my dog?

The signs and symptoms of poor hygiene in dogs are similar to those of humans, with odor and bad breath topping the list.

Signs of poor hygiene in dogs include:

  • Odor
  • Bad breath
  • Dirty, itchy skin
  • Matted fur
  • Dull hair coat
  • Greasy hair coat
  • Teeth discoloration

How can my veterinarian help me with dog grooming and hygiene?

Treatment for dog hygiene is on a case-by-case basis. Each dog is individually assessed for any ear problems or to see if they’re licking their toes, have a red or irritated belly, show signs of gingivitis, and more. A physical exam will lead to your veterinarian making recommendations to improve their hygiene. Occasionally, the skin has a manifestation of internal problems resulting from poor hygiene, so your veterinarian may need to do some blood work. If you have any questions about how your dog looks or smells, it’s best to ask your veterinarian sooner rather than later and avoid a bigger problem. 

If you have additional questions about dog bathing and hygiene, reach out to your veterinarian. If you live in or near Miami, FL, we’d love to see your dog to ensure their hygiene regimen is adequate, so please don’t hesitate to call us at (305) 842-3228.