Bathing too often can be detrimental to your pet
Q: How often should I bathe my dog during winters? Kalpana K. Singh
As is often the case, the answer is ‘it depends’. When in doubt, use your judgment — if your dog starts to smell, it's probably time for a bath. At a minimum, it’s advised to bathe your dog at least once every three months. You can wash your dog as frequently as every other week. I recommend you bathe a dog with normal skin once a month with dog shampoo or human baby shampoo. If you want to bathe more often than once a month, use a soap-free or moisturizing shampoo to prevent the skin from becoming dry. Do not bathe your dog more than once a week, unless recommended by your vet. Dogs groom themselves to help facilitate the growth of hair follicles and to support skin health. However, bathing is needed for most dogs to supplement the process. But bathing too often can be detrimental to your pet as well. It can irritate the skin, damage hair follicles, and increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections. The best bath frequency depends on the reason behind the bath. Healthy dogs that spend most of their time inside may only need to be bathed a few times a year to control natural ‘doggy odors.’ On the other hand, frequent bathing is a critical part of managing some medical conditions, like allergic skin disease.
Q: Is there a way in which I can personally routinely check the health of my dog? Shishir Singh
Yes. Because lumps, bumps, and other abnormal spots on your dog could be a number of different things including skin tags, moles, cysts, hot spots, and in extreme cases, cancer. The sooner you notice these abnormalities, the sooner you can seek treatment. When checking your dog, it is best to start with the tip of their nose and work your way down to the tip of their tail. On your dog’s nose, make sure to check for lesions, debris, and excessive drainage. Also, take note of how moist the nose is. Most dogs’ noses vary between wet and dry throughout the day. So, if your dog’s nose is not always wet, don’t panic! Instead, just make sure to take note of it. Check for symmetry in the muzzle as well and be aware of any differences between the two sides. Look inside your dog’s mouth for lesions, swelling, and bad breath. Also, check the top and underside of the tongue if you can. Make sure to check the outside of your dog’s mouth as well. Every dog’s eyes are different, so be sure to observe your dog’s typical eye discharge daily so that you will know what is normal for them. Look at all parts of their eyes and notice any differences between their two eyes such as shape, colour, discharge, and movement. Look at the interior and exterior of your dog’s ears. There should not be any unusual swelling, debris, or odor, especially inside the ear canals. Watch for signs of pain or itchiness when handling the ears. This may indicate an infection or painful polyp. When looking at your dog’s body, push their coat back to better examine their skin. Look for any excessive flakiness, lumps, or bumps, and pay close attention to both sides of their spinal cord. If you notice any unusual colours in your dog’s skin, such as darker spots or red spots, take note of that as well. On your dog’s torso, evaluate their muscle tone and weight. All of your dog’s joints should be able to move freely. Then, check the feet. Look closely at the nails and pads. Their paws should be fairly symmetrical and there should be nothing stuck between their toes. When looking at their nails, pay attention to the nail beds and check for any unusual masses or discolouration. When checking your dog’s underbelly, be extra careful. Look for any lumps, bumps, or sensitive skin. Don’t forget to check the area around your dog’s bum. You should examine the anus for swelling, cleanliness, uniformity, and a consistent colour. If you see anything unusual or concerning, reach out to your vet