In addition to regular, ideally daily, brushing, part of good grooming is regular bathing.
Timeline: A shih tzu without skin problems should be bathed about once every 3 to 4 weeks. This will help keep the skin clean without removing too much of the natural oils.
Preparation: Before bathing, be sure to brush out any mats. Water makes the mats tighter; tight mats will pull at the skin, causing pain. Refer to Grooming the shih tzu: Part 1: brushing for more information about brushing.
Getting all of your materials together ahead of time is vital to a good bath experience, especially if your shih tzu is nervous in the tub. Here is what you’ll need:
- Cream rinse, optional but recommended to prevent matting
- Cup or clean gallon milk jug (if you don’t have a sprayer in your tub or sink)
- Non-slip mat to help him keep his footing in the wet tub
- Towel…maybe a couple of them
- Start at the tail and work forward to the head.
- Never use human shampoo. It tends to dry out the dog’s skin. Some of the ingredients, especially added scents, can cause allergic reactions in your dog. Human shampoo is also harder to rinse out of dog hair.
- Squeeze the shampoo through the hair. Try to limit rubbing or massaging because that causes tangling and matting.
- Follow the same process for drying as with shampooing. Rubbing and massaging the hair causes tangling and matting.
- It’s best to use the sink or bathtub instead of bathing the shih tzu outside. Water from the hose is just too cold.
Drying: Squeeze excess water out of the hair while still in the tub. Then, towel dry using the same, squeezing, motion. As stated under Helpful Hints, limit rubbing to reduce tangling and matting.
For at-home grooming, it’s ok to use your human hair dryer. But, be careful to use on the cool setting. Air that is too hot can burn the shih tzu’s (or any dog’s) delicate skin. Keep the hair dryer moving and brush the hair while you’re drying.
Never blow air directly in the face. Shih tzus are prone to dry eye, and the warm air from the hair dryer can make the condition worse.
Check back for more information about keeping your shih tzu healthy, including eye and ear care.
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