Bathing your sheep is a bit of an arduous process.
It’s all the more difficult if you don’t have the right materials for the job!
If you’re out of sheep-specific shampoo and have some extra dog wash on hand, it makes sense to consider using it.
It’s not a good idea to use dog shampoo on your sheep. Instead, use either shampoo designed specifically for livestock like sheep and goats or another gentle, de-greasing soap. These will do a better job getting all the grime out of your animals’ wool and be better for their skin.
The temptation to use a soap you already have for your other pets is real.
But it’s in your best interest to go another route.
Keep reading to learn about how dog shampoo compares with other soaps for sheep and more about the process of bathing your livestock.
Why Dog Shampoo Is Not Good for Sheep
It goes without saying, dogs and sheep are two very different animals.
But the soaps we use for them are extremely different as well!
The skin and hair on their bodies have warring needs, which is why each animal has separate products.
Consider the process of cleaning dirt from your sheep’s thick wool compared with your dog’s fur.
For one thing, a soap designed for sheep is more likely to focus on de-greasing.
This is an extremely important part of the process of bathing your sheep because of the natural layer of water-proof grease you’ll need to clean from their wool.
Your lambs may not have the same heavy coat, but using pet shampoo with them isn’t a good idea.
It’s a delicate process bathing newborn lambs, and a lamb can get sick if the bath isn’t done properly.
Focus instead on keeping your lambs in a sanitary, clean environment so bathing doesn’t become necessary until they’re older.
This is your best bet for keeping your baby lamb clean.
Good Soaps And Shampoo for Sheep
So, what are some good alternatives?
The best bet is to buy a soap specifically targeted to sheep and other livestock.
Most of these will be labeled as de-greasing shampoos and will do the trick.
If you’re having difficulty finding one locally or don’t have the time to order online, dish soap is okay in a pinch.
The key, though, is to make sure whatever soap you’re using will be able to break through the barrier of grease coating your sheep’s wool.
Always look for those words on the shampoo or dish soap bottle before you start your animal’s bath.
This mild foam livestock shampoo on Amazon is a good product if you’re currently looking.
How To Bathe Your Sheep
So, you have the right shampoo… Now what?
The truth is the fun has only just begun.
Bathing sheep isn’t an easy process, so make sure you have plenty of time and patience before you get started.
From there, take these steps:
- Safely isolate the sheep
- Wet them down
- Get the grease and dirt out of their wool
- Rinse off ALL the soap
- Dry them completely
Isolate the Animal
Step one is to ensure the lamb you want to bathe is separate from your other livestock.
It will be difficult keeping the animal still enough to bathe them as it is.
But with other animals nearby, it will be even harder.
The process will be much easier if you have somebody who can help you hold your wooly friend still while you bathe them.
Wet Your Sheep
Before you start shampooing their coat, you must get your sheep’s whole body nice and wet.
Use warm water, so you don’t sap their body heat and make them uncomfortable.
We recommend filling a big container like a 1-gal bottle or slightly larger bucket with water to wet down your pet.
A hose would be more likely to have bacteria in it, and a smaller container would make the bath take much longer than necessary.
As you pour water over their body from head to toe, you will have to move their wool around to ensure they’re soaked to the skin.
Remember, their wool has water-resistant grease, so it won’t be easy to drench them.
Take your time and be thorough.
Scrub Them Down
Finally, it’s time to scrub down their dirty wool!
Be generous with the de-greasing shampoo to ensure you’ll break through the layer of grease on your animals’ wool fleece.
Excess dirt clumps collect at sheep’s rears and undersides, so pay extra attention to those areas.
Get their greasy wool as clean as possible but be gentle as well!
Focus more on the wool, and don’t scrub too hard at your animal’s skin.
Rinse Off the Shampoo
While your sheep don’t need anti-dandruff shampoo, they can still suffer from dry skin if you don’t rinse all the shampoo out of their wool.
Be good to your friends and take your time rinsing them off.
The thicker their wool, the harder it will be to get all the shampoo out.
But you must ensure it’s all gone to avoid flakey, itchy skin.
We don’t like dandruff, and neither do our sheep!
Dry Them Thoroughly
You have to dry your animals manually because their wool traps moisture and makes it impossible for them to air dry on their own.
Blow-dry the body, and use a warm setting. Again, we don’t want to suck away their body heat and make them sick.
There are also more concerns about skin when you’re drying off your sheep.
If you don’t get all the excess water out of their wool, it gets trapped against their skin.
This leads to bacterial skin infections and other common skin conditions sheep contract.
Flakey skin from excess shampoo is bad, but serious infections are much worse.
Take care when you dry off your sheep!
Get all the excess water off their body, and double-check it’s all gone before you turn off the blow-dryer.
Watch Out For A Sheep’s Ears When Washing
Throughout this process, be very careful of your sheep’s ears!
You don’t want to get water in there, or you may end up dealing with infections down the line.
Cover their ears gently when washing their head to avoid spilling water on them.
Depending on how dirty (and how feisty) your sheep are, the bathing process will take more or less time.
Remember: Keep calm and cover those ears!
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