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Bathing Your Dog

Washing Your Dog Doesn't Have To Be A Dreaded Chore!

Bathing your dog can be a wet and wild experience, but here are some tips that will help make the process a lot smoother - for both you and your dog.

dog bathing tips

Dog Bathing Supplies

Firstly you will need a good quality shampoo and conditioner. Do not use people products because they are not PH balanced for your dog.

Instead, select a product that complements what your individual dog requires:

  1. Oatmeal shampoo and conditioners: Good for sensitive skin and soft coated breeds. Oatmeal is a gentle cleanser and is great for dogs that might have itchy skin, allergies, or need extra moisture. Oatmeal dog shampoos also work well for hairless breeds.

  2. Whitening shampoo and conditioners: In order to keep white breeds like American Eskimos or Bichon Frises snowy white, you will want a whitening product such as "Super White" by Bio-Groom.

  3. Tearless shampoo and conditioners: For puppies and pets that need product around their faces, like Yorkies, tearless products are the best way to avoid eye problems.

  4. Special shampoo and conditioners: For dogs with skin problems, hot spots, seborrhea, bacterial, or fungal problems, you will need special products. Good options for regular maintenance of problems are Micro-tek medicated shampoo by EQyss or Tropiclean's Oatmeal and Tea Tree medicated shampoo.

  5. All purpose shampoo and conditioner: Most dogs do well with all purpose products, although you can find special puppy products, moisturizing products, all natural products, etc. Good all purpose shampoos and conditioners include brands like Bio-Groom, Tropiclean, Miracle Coat, and Lambert Kay's Fresh n Clean products to name a few.

You will also potentially need: vinegar, towels, a dryer, cotton balls, and an eye ointment such as Puralube vet ointment.

How to Bathe Your Dog

Where you bathe your pet is up to you, depending on his/her size. For small dogs, kitchen sinks with spray hoses work well. Larger breeds can often fit inside a shower, and you can use a shower hose for them.

Wherever you choose to bathe your dog, inside or outside, you should always use warm water to bathe them. It is more comfortable for the dog, better for their skin, and forces more dead coat out in each bath. You can purchase dog shower hoses or coiled hoses like the Pet Wash that can attach to your sink faucet which will allow warm water outside.

Have all your items ready before giving your dog a bath to make sure everything is within arm's reach. You do not want to leave your dog unattended in a bath tub, shower, or tied up somewhere.

Before the Dog Bath:

  1. Do a quick brush through your dog's hair. You do not want any tangles or mats before the bath because bathing will only make them tighter.

  2. Keep your shampoo and conditioner close by, along with towels.

  3. If using, make a vinegar rinse by filling a small bucket with warm water and adding up to half a cup of vinegar. This will be used after shampooing to cut all of the soap out.

  4. If using, squirt a little eye ointment in each eye to help prevent water and products from getting in your dog's eyes.

  5. If using, put a large cotton ball inside your dog's ears to prevent water from going into the ear canal. Any build up of moisture can and will develop into an ear infection.

  6. Ensure that the water is warm before putting your dog in the sink, tub, or wherever you plan to use.

During the Dog Bath:

  1. Wet your dog down with warm water, avoiding his face and ears.

  2. Gently rub shampoo into your dog's coat. Small dogs will only require the amount you use for your own hair, but large dogs require more. Squeeze small amounts into your hand and rub into the coat until fully covered.

  3. Rinse out the shampoo and follow with the vinegar rinse, if using, to make sure all the soap is out.

  4. Finish off with a conditioner. Feel all areas of the dog to make sure all the conditioner is rinsed out, before toweling off the dog.

  5. While applying shampoo and conditioner, take the time to feel your dog's body and inspect for any skins problems, abrasions, lumps or bumps, or parasites like ticks.

After the Dog Bath:

  1. Remove the cotton balls from his ears.

  2. Towel your dog off well, especially his feet and legs so that he does not fall on slippery floors. Take him outside (if the weather is warm) for a moment in order to shake out the excess water.

  3. If you will be using a dryer, invest in a dog dryer that blows more air out at a time than a people hair dryer. Blow dryers are beneficial in the colder months of the year. They work well with small breeds that chill easily, heavy coated breeds with a lot of hair, or breeds with special coats like the Puli, which will mildew if not properly dried.

  4. Once dried, make sure you thoroughly brush your dog's coat to prevent any new tangles from forming.



Bathing Your Dog - Final Thoughts

Always make sure to wash your dog's collar with warm soap and water too. Remove the collar prior to bathing your dog and wash it separately. Some collars can be washed and dried in the clothes washer and dryer. This removes dirt, oils, or bacteria from the collar.

Your dog doesn't need to be bathed as frequently as you think! Your dog has natural oils on his coat, and over bathing can dry out his skin and coat. Most dogs can go months without a bath if not dirty, like most terriers. The one exception is small breeds with hair, not fur, like Yorkies and Maltese. They need baths every 1-2 weeks or their hair becomes too oily, much like our own hair.

For in-between bath times in order to keep your pet clean and fresh, you can use waterless shampoo products, quick bath wipes, or freshening sprays that can be used during regular brushing.



Some other pages you may be interested in:

More dog grooming articles including how to brush your dog, cutting your dog's nails and cleaning your dog's ears.

Teach your dog some cool dog tricks.

Step-by-step puppy training advice.



More articles we recommend: 

Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.