Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pug bathing schedules: How often is too often?

Liam the pug during his bath

Giving a pug a bath isn't a fun job. Despite their barrel-like little bodies and short legs, pugs can be remarkably fast and agile when they're trying to get away from something they don't want to do, so catching them for the bath and keeping them in the tub is a workout. And once they've submitted to the bath idea, pugs are experts at using expressions like this to make humans feel bad about bathing them.

Guilt trips galore!

As a result, I've typically tried to keep Liam's baths to a minimum. He hates them, and I felt certain I was doing him a favor by keeping him away from things he didn't like--and that might not be good for his skin.

As it turns out, I was using the wrong approach. And that means Liam has many more baths in his future.

Liam the pug in profile during his bath

Like most pugs, Liam has a lot of trouble with his skin. He develops tiny little rashes on his belly from time to time, and he often deals with yeast-like infections in the folds of the skin on his face. Liam is also very sensitive to any kind of skin discomfort, so when his skin is even slightly inflamed, he spends a lot of time licking, scratching and pacing. Where Sinead can ignore almost all types of discomfort, Liam can't. And when he isn't comfortable, I'm not comfortable. He always comes to me for help, as does any self-respecting Velcro pug.

Recently, he developed another bout of intensely itchy skin due to a cause I couldn't quite pinpoint. So off to the veterinarian we went. As we were discussing Liam's skin, I mentioned that I'd been bathing him once every other week, trying to balance keeping him clean with drying out his skin. And his veterinarian recommended that we up his baths to two times PER WEEK.

Liam the pug in the bathtub

The thinking goes that Liam's itching is due to a combination of yeast overgrowth on his fur and irritation from environmental allergies like grass and carpet fibers. Both of these irritants come from outside of his body, and they latch onto his fur. By bathing him more frequently, we can remove those irritants before they compel Liam to damage his skin with licking and itching.

In addition, we're using some conditioning agents during his baths that help to keep his skin soft and supple between baths. Those conditioners can also help to keep his skin from itching, and they can keep the skin softer, so it won't tear when he scratches.

Bathing Liam 2x per week doesn't top my list of favorite things. But I must say: Since we've started doing this, he's been sleeping through the night without waking me up for help. That's a lovely change, and it does make the work a little more worthwhile.

Any readers out there with itchy pugs? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments. Let me know what you do to help!

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