Having a Labrador is all fun and games until you realize that it’s more than just feeding, training, and taking your dog on walks. To veteran dog lovers and fur parents, it is second nature. But if you’re a new pet owner, you might be wondering, “How often should you bathe a Labrador?”
Sure, in the wild canines may not need baths, but it’s very different when these same canines, especially those as adventurous as Labradors, become household pets and family members. The simple reason why Labradors need baths is because you, like any other human being, would want to keep your house neat, tidy, and smelling good!
It would be hard to do that if you just took your Labrador to the park on a rainy day and let them in your house without cleaning them up first. But the real question here is, how often do Labradors need baths? That and other questions will be answered down below.
Do Labradors Really Need a Bath?
Some people would think that the answer to this question is pretty obvious, but there are details they skip out if they simply just say yes. Giving your Labrador a bath regularly allows you to do a lot of things before, during, and after bathing them. One of the most important things you can accomplish is to keep track of your dog’s health.
Bathing your Labrador allows you to maintain their hygiene, removing any visible soiling on its coat and eliminating foul odors. This allows you to sleep better at night as you know that you’re not going to find your carpet with paw marks in the morning or your couch and other sheets smelling like a dog after a couple of weeks.
Furthermore, you can also notice any irregularities on your Labrador’s skin which often are indicators of health issues, may they be serious or not. Some of these health issues include parasitic infections such as ticks and lice or fungal infections that cause bumps and sometimes clumping of hair.
Grooming your Labrador regularly also reduces the chances of it shedding, which means you’ll have less fur to sweep up and remove from your clothes. Though shedding is completely normal, it can be reduced by properly maintaining your Labrador’s coat, which also makes your dog feel more comfortable.
The First Bath
Despite how dirty Labrador puppies can get, it is not recommended that they be given baths with soap until they are 3 months old. In fact, some sources would say that no puppy should be given a bath until they are 2 months old, as their body would still have a hard time regulating the temperature.
Giving your puppy a bath with soap earlier than 3 months often leads to skin irritation, which means your Labrador is most likely to scratch itself which could then lead to wounding. Instead, you can dilute the soap with some water and give your 3 month-old puppy a warm bath, immediately followed by wrapping them up in towels to prevent hypothermia.
According to the American Kennel Club, before you give your Labrador puppy a bath, you must let it get used to the sensation of human touch first. You can do this by slowly starting to pet your puppy for several days prior to the bath, allowing them to get accustomed to the feeling of a hand on them.
This is also especially helpful if you decide to bring your Labrador to a groomer, as then they would feel less anxious. Once you’ve given your Labrador puppy its first bath, it would now then be time to create a schedule for bathing, something that your Labrador will easily get used to and hopefully, look forward to as well.
Things to Do Before Bathing
Before just getting trigger happy with the water, there are some things that you need to do or are recommended to do before bathing your Labrador. All of these will serve to help you make the bathing experience much easier.
Brushing your Labrador before its bath is a must, if not highly recommended, as this removes any excess hair and tangles that could make bath time difficult. Brushing prior to bathing your dog also allows you to look for any wounds or bumps that may be indicative of a health concern for your dog, and spots that you should avoid during bath time as well.
Exhausting Your Labrador
One of the biggest problems dog lovers and fur parents have is that some dogs become so excited when the water hits them that they become hyperactive. This makes it hard to have them stay put in one place and eventually lead to longer bath times than intended.
It is suggested to exhaust your Labrador before bath time by playing with it, letting it go to the park, or taking it on a long walk before giving it a bath. This increases the chances of it being more behaved when you give it a bath, which will make the whole experience much better.
Ear cleaning is important for Labradors because they have a tendency to build up dirt and oils in their ears. Cleaning the insides prevents any infection from building up in the ear canal. Doing this before bathing your dog is much easier as you’d be able to pick up more dirt with a dry or undiluted ear cleaner.
What to Avoid Before Baths
Just like you wouldn’t want to put some lotions on before taking a bath, the same should go for your Labrador. There are things that you can apply to your dog’s skin for treatment or relief, but only after it has been given a bath.
Topical treatments for lice and ticks are solutions you can rub on the skin of your Labrador’s nape. These can be easily washed off when giving your dog a bath, which means it wouldn’t be effective at all and the parasitic infection wouldn’t be at all lessened. These are best applied a day or two after your Labrador’s bath.
Some dogs who have allergies, wounds, or fungal infections are prescribed some topical creams to prevent infection or itching on these sites. Just like topical treatments, these can also easily be washed off with soap and water, so they are best applied after a bath. Some can be applied immediately after, while some may require days prior to being applied.
How Often a Labrador Should be Bathed
How often your Labrador needs a bath mostly depends on how active your dog is and how much time they spend outdoors. The more active they are and the more time they spend outdoors, the more likely it also is that they will dirty themselves through their surroundings, given the explorative nature of Labradors.
Thus, if you allow your dog to spend lots of time outdoors, you may need to bathe them at least once a week. However, for dogs that like to stay at home, especially in the cold winter season, a good rule of thumb would be to bathe your Labrador at least once a month. This allows you to maintain their coat and prevent any foul odors building up.
How to Give Your Labrador a Bath
The first thing you should do before giving your Labrador a bath is to prepare them and yourself. Decide a place where you can give your dog a bath and gather all the necessary items, with the top 5 being water, dog shampoo, a brush, a towel, and a hair blower. Keeping these within arm’s reach will make your life so much easier.
The next step is to wet your Labrador with warm water. Warm water is essential so as to prevent your dog from going into hypothermia and is most often the required type of water by dog shampoo brands. This also softens the dirt to make cleaning your Labrador so much faster.
After your dog’s coat is sufficiently wet, it is now time to apply the shampoo. Don’t put too much shampoo at once to prevent any waste. Instead, put a little on your hands before rubbing it on a specific body region, as this will let you save a lot on dog shampoo. Really massage the shampoo into your dog’s skin, and some shampoo brands will require you to let it stay on for a few minutes.
After you’ve completely applied the shampoo and used it according to manufacturer specifications, it is now time to rinse your beloved dog. Be prepared to get wet as your dog is most likely going to shake and shower you in the process! After you’ve rinsed all the shampoo off your Labrador, you can then dry them with a towel and a hair blower so they don’t make a mess.
Giving your Labrador a bath is an experience that many fur parents don’t want to miss out on, as this strengthens the bond between them and their dog. It is a very taxing experience, but having a loyal dog like a Labrador who loves and appreciates you makes it all worth it in the end.
Just make sure that after every bath, you keep your dog warm and dry to prevent it from going into hypothermic shock, especially if you live in a cold climate. Your Labrador will thank and love you for it! Remember to not just base bath times on how much dirt you see on your Labrador, as dirt can also build up beneath its coat. Enjoy!
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