This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
"Does your senior German Shepherd really need to be bathed regularly?
I mean, really, old dogs just lay around all day, so how dirty can they possibly get, right?"
Wrong. Regardless of a German Shepherd's age, like humans, to maintain optimum health and happiness, they need to be bathed regularly. In fact, I would argue that bathing is even more important for a senior German Shepherd because it's the perfect time to inspect him for any new lumps, bumps, sores, or other health issues that you may not otherwise notice.
And while it may be true that most senior German Shepherds aren't typically as active as their younger counterparts, they still get dirty. Take our sanctuary resident, Champ. Sometimes he has actual dirt on him from being outside, but he also has yeasty skin (including his ears) and requires a bath every two weeks to keep his coat from becoming greasy, flakey, and smelly. Below are some of the products we use just for him to keep him feeling fresh and his skin healthy. Granted, neither the Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo or an oatmeal-based shampoo smell like roses, but it helps keep Champ's skin in check better than anything we have found thus far.
Now, before you go coaxing your senior German Shepherd into a bathtub full of soapy, warm water, there are a few adjustments you should make to ensure the safety and comfort of your frosty faced fur friend while getting bathed.
* Try to have a tub/wash area that your senior German Shepherd does not have to climb up into
* Don't make the water too hot or too cold
* Have a no-slip mat under your dog
* Use shampoo and grooming products designed specifically for your dog's needs
* Keep the room at a warmer temperature during and after bathing if bathing during colder temperatures
* Pay attention to your dog's body language. If they are experiencing pain or discomfort, you may need to cut the bath short
* While shampooing, give a little massage and really check him out for any new lumps or bumps
* Have all of your bathing tools and supplies within reach.
After we are done bathing, we groom the sanctuary dogs too. After all, there's definitely more to do. Like making sure their nails are clipped to an appropriate length. Nails that are too long can actually cause pain in your senior German Shepherd because it causes him to stand on his feet incorrectly, which, in turn, prohibits his joints from aligning correctly, and we don't want another reason for hip issues, do we?
If you are clipping your dog's nails yourself, make sure you have a good pair of clippers. We use a guillotine-style professional-grade such as Toysdone Large dog nail clippers When you clip, hold the clippers at a 45-degree angle, and make sure you don't cut too close to the quick (the vein in your dog's nail), which will hurt and cause your dog to bleed. I realize just the thought of that has some nervous...I know....I use to be nervous about it too. So if clipping your dog's nails is something you just aren't comfortable with yourself, then don't force it, but don't ignore it either. Take him to a professional like your veterinarian or groomer to have them do it. And if you do clip yourself, have some styptic powder on hand just in case.
Bath. Check. Nails clipped. Check. Let's not forget about their ears. While grooming your senior German Shepherd, clean his ears to remove ear wax build-up and dirt, which is not only a necessity for hygiene, but it also helps them hear better. We use several different products to clean the sanctuary dog's ears, such as Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner
Keep in mind that some dogs like to have their ears cleaned, like our Jared, and others don't like it at all. So like clipping nails, if this is something you aren't comfortable doing, have your vet or groomer do it instead.
Finally, It's essential to brush your senior German Shepherd regularly. Not only do most dogs enjoy being brushed, but by doing so, you distribute the natural oils of his coat, which will keep him looking smooth and shiny, remove any loose hair, and give him an overall clean appearance. If you have a long-haired senior German Shepherd, like our sanctuary resident, Jensen, get yourself a de-matting tool to help keep the coat mat-free. We use the Safari De-matting Dog Comb, and it works great! A tool like the Furminator to pull out loose undercoat also works well.
Just a little side note, not every brush or grooming tool works for every dog. It depends on the dog's coat and what he can tolerate. For instance, we would never use a tool like the Safari De-matting Dog Comb or Furminator on Atticus, who has a coat that is more like thin hair and bald patches. Using these tools on him would actually hurt him. Instead, we use the black side of the Hartz best combo brush to brush him because it's softer and does an excellent job on his coat.
To sum it up, aside from looking good, grooming your senior German Shepherd regularly helps them feel better physically and mentally, which is usually evident because as soon as they get out of the tub and shake off, they get the zoomies and buzz all over the house like they are three years old again! They love feeling clean.....who doesn't?
On a final note, if you are not comfortable bathing and grooming your senior German Shepherd, take him to a professional, like a groomer who specializes in working with senior dogs. We do all the grooming ourselves here at the sanctuary, but then again, we have lots of practice. :) We even have a schedule, which you can see below. If you have multiple dogs, feel free to screenshot the blank schedule and print it out for your own pack.
Tell your pup I said hi!