How to bathe a dog

Dog in bath

Working dogs who spend much of the time outdoors will need more bathing them dogs who mostly live indoors and don’t get so dirty. If your dog’s smell doesn’t bother you and it is not visibly dirty, then there is no imminent need for your dog to take a bath. Some dogs have allergic skin issues so they will need more frequent washing because of their treatment than other dogs.

How often should a dog be bathed?

Some people bathe their dogs monthly while others only two or three times a year. You should not wash your dog too often because it can cause skin irritation especially if the skin is not dried well or if harsh soaps are used.

Some people ask, “can I use human shampoo on a dog?” We recommend that you use dog shampoo only. If you try and use even gentle baby shampoo or human shampoo, it can be too strong for the dog’s thin skin and this will cause irritation, rashes and unpleasantness.

Bathing your dog

Before you wash the dog, brush it thoroughly to remove any nits and tangles from the hairs. This can create quite a mess, so you should always do that outside if possible.

Think carefully about where you are going to wash the dog, because it is likely that when it is wet, it will shake off all the excess water, so choose somewhere that you don’t mind getting wet! 

Let the water run and test the temperature by running it on the inside of your wrist in the same way that you would do when testing baby milk. It should not be too hot because the dogs skin is sensitive, but it will be more enjoyable for the dog if the temperature is not too cold – so something slightly warmer than lukewarm is what you are aiming for.

Wet the dog down so that it is completely soaking. Then lather it with a dog shampoo making sure that you rub all over the body including the hind and the buttocks. You should avoid the eyes or getting any shampoo into the mouth because they will not ingest it and this will make them unwell. Once thoroughly lathered, you should rinse well and make sure that all soap is removed. If you are not sure, repeat the rinsing because you must make that there is no soap residue at all. That would cause skin irritation.

Drying your dog after a bath

The dog now needs to be dried and it will want a good shakedown to get rid of the water. Make sure that you have a shower curtain or screen in place if you are anxious about your house getting too wet! Then you should rub the dog down with a towel. This is always good fun and most dogs love this. Wrap a towel over the back and rub down the coat in the direction of the fur. This may be the time when you enter into a tug-of-war competition! Make sure the dog is as dry as possible before you allow them to sit somewhere cosy and warm up.

Any old towels will do, but many people like a special dog drying towel, because it does remove a lot of moisture and is something nice for the dog to identify with.

If your dog shows any signs of irritation after a bath, you should call the vet, particularly if there are any spots, wounds or bumps on the skin which could become infected.

Should I use a dog groomer near me to bath my dog?

While it is a reasonably straightforward task to bathe your dog at home, many people prefer to use the experience of local dog groomers to help with this task and that certainly does make sense for many people. In particular, if you have a very nervous or an especially aggressive dog, a local dog groomer will be more confident at putting the dog at ease and making the experience much more positive for dog and owner alike.