How to Bathe Dog

Author Bri LaFluer / Sleepy Cotton Content Writer / Feb-15-2020

How to Bathe a Dog Guide: A Clean & Happy Dog

Do you ever wonder how to bathe a dog the correct way from start to finish? Bath time is a necessity to keep a happy and healthy dog. Regular bathing keeps your dog’s skin and coat healthy, reduces allergies, and decreases the chance of infection.

Giving them a good wash also leaves them with a pleasant smell, making cuddle time even more delightful. You can always practice making bath time a positive experience while strengthening your human-dog bond.

Key Points
  • Regular bathing keeps your dog’s skin and coat healthy, reduces allergies, and decreases the chance of infection.
  • General brushing spreads the skin’s natural protective oils across its surface. These oils are necessary to help deter bad bacteria and unwelcome parasites.
  • Dogs have drastically fewer layers of skin than humans. Be sure the temperature of the water does not burn their fragile skin by feeling it on your forearm first.
  • Also keeping our furry friends faces clean can prevent dirt and bacterias from entering their system.
  • Soap residue left on dog’s skin once they are dry can cause dermatitis and infected lesions called hot spots.
  • When learning how to bathe a dog, let your furry friend know that bathing is a fun and rewarding experience. Praise them and keep treats + toys handy.

Are you ready to learn how to bathe a dog? Let’s get down to the sudsy details!

Learning About Bath Time

There are many dogs who feel intimidated just by looking at the bathtub. Generally, whatever the reason is, the whole experience is overwhelming to them. A mix of noises, confinement, and the feeling of water itself wouldn’t exactly excite most dogs. But with a regular care routine, most dogs adjust to the familiarity of bathing, becoming calmer over time.

If your dog hates water, it is best to introduce them slowly with praise and rewards. Walk them through water, and spray their legs gently with a detachable nozzle to warm them up, introducing new areas being wet. If your dog loves treats or toys, you can reward them with those for being so brave!

Teaching your dog that taking a bath isn’t so scary is no easy task and it can take some time. It is best to have good patience and a gentle attitude.

Why You Should Wash Your Dog

Regular bathing keeps your dog’s skin and coat healthy, reduces allergies, and decreases the chance of infection. Most people bathe their dogs approximately once a month or when they start to develop a smell.

Certain components such as dirt, salt, and sand can irritate their skin and clog their pores. If your dog tends to be more active, you may need to bathe them more often.

Keeping them clean is also beneficial to hooman family members. Trapped irritants such as grass and pollen can be released into the air around us which can trigger allergy symptoms. But with regular bathing, this is the most effective way to prevent and reduce them.

Additionally, depending on if your dog has a skin disease, they can actually benefit from regular bathing with antimicrobial shampoo. You can always discuss what is best for your dog’s unique skin and coat with your veterinarian.

Bathing too Often

Bathing your dog too often can cause dry and itchy skin and dandruff development. Over bathing could also strip away dog’s beneficial natural skin oils which help to moisturize and protect their skin.

How to Bathe a Dog
Step #1: Prepare

One of the best things you can do to make bathing your dog easier is making sure you have everything you need set up. Have your stock of bathing supplies all readily available and close to your station so that you do not need to leave your dog unattended.

Step #2: Brush

General brushing spreads the skin’s natural protective oils across its surface. These oils are necessary to help deter bad bacteria and unwelcome parasites. Brushing, combing, and massaging will also increase circulation and blood flow.

To make the bathing process easier, brush through your dog’s fur before they get in the bath. Wet fur can create more matting.

It’s best to keep a regular grooming routine a few times a week. This way, your dog will be used to the feeling of brushing rather than super sensitive. Especially for occasional knots, they will not be so surprising and hurtful. If your dog has extreme knots and matting, you may want to take them to a groomer.

Step #3: Wet

Begin wetting their fur down with lukewarm water. Using hot water is not recommended. Since they have drastically fewer layers of skin than humans, they can get burned easily. Feel the temperature of the water on your forearm first. Our sensitivity of this area is somewhat similar to how it would feel for them.

Thoroughly soak their entire body so that there are no dry spots. It is best to start from their legs then move up to their face. For their facial area, while most do just fine without them, you can protect their ears by putting cotton balls in each if needed. This will deter any water entering the ear canal which can cause infections.

Step #4: Soap

Facial Area: Keeping our furry friends faces clean can prevent dirt and bacterias from entering their system. However, keep in mind that every dog’s facial area is extra sensitive. Most common dog shampoos and human shampoos are far too strong for the extra sensitive facial area. We recommend using a specialized face wash product.

Around Eyes: Gently wet the area, avoiding their eyes and nose. Let water soak in. Using a face wash specialized product, work into a lather on your fingers and apply it. Using your fingertips, gently twist and rub the fur around the area. This will effectively break any dirt and grime off, including eye boogers.

Ears: Using a washcloth with a small amount of soap to wash the outside of their ears is the safest approach. Keep water from dripping into their ears to avoid infections.

Body: To truly wash away all of the grime and dirt hiding within their layers of fur down to their skin, you must generously massage the soap through their coat. Do this for a few minutes, making sure all spots of their body become clean. Be sure to wash their paws as well to remove any additional trapped odors.

Step #5: Rinse

Rinse backwards from head to paws. This will make sure there is no soap left irritating their eyes if any came in contact. Tip your pets head upwards when rinsing the top of their head so that no soap drips down to their eyes.

Be sure that the water runs clear so you know there is no more soap left on your dog. Soap residue left on their skin once they are dry can cause dermatitis and infected lesions called hot spots as recognized by Pet MD.

From start to finish, your dog will enjoy bath time if you talk to them in a reassuring tone of voice and wash gently.

Step #6: Dry

Get those towels ready. Using super absorbent towels is best for your dog rather than a quick dry or blow dryer. You don't want to leave them soaking wet. They will become uncomfortable and cold. This could also be messy for your house.

Using a blow dryer can be unsafe because of the temperatures. If they are not regulated along with the air pressure, it can be too hot for their skin. The loud noise can also make the experience bad for them in the end.

Take your dog for a walk after you bathe them if the temperature is warm outside so they can air dry better. You'll want to be sure that your dog is completely dry to avoid any hot spots developing from moist areas of skin. Dogs with undercoats such as german shepherds and labrador retrievers need extra drying within all of their fur.

Additional Tips & Tricks

Small dogs can be washed in the sink, and larger dogs are best placed in a bathtub or shower. You can use a detachable nozzle for a quicker wash. Keep it at a gentle speed so that it is not forceful on their skin. Let the water hit the back of your hand while you wash your dog so that they feel your hand instead of the water. This works well for dogs who need more comfort during the bath. You can slowly transition from your hand to the water coming from the nozzle onto their skin once your dog is calm.

Using a garden hose on them outside is ok on occasion if the weather is nice. Dogs can become cold and uncomfortable easily. If your hose has a much too strong force, that high pressure can even drive bacteria into the skin.

Wherever you bathe your dog, it's ok to make sure they stay contained by tying a lead on them or holding them. But be gentle. You will not want to restrain them forcefully as this could scare them and make them not want to return to the tub again.

Use a Pet Safe Shampoo

There are many shampoos to choose from. One thing is for sure, you will want to avoid using human shampoo. It will imbalance their pH number leaving their skin irritated and itchy. Avoid products with added chemicals such as parabens, SLS/SLES, phthalates, formaldehyde, and also mineral oils. Go for products with all natural ingredients.

Sleepy Cotton prioritizes healthy ingredients and benefits for your dog, giving you shampoo and face wash products that you can trust. All our products are made in the USA with 100% USA made ingredients without any harmful chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, dyes, synthetic fragrances, SLS or SLES. All formulas are vegan, tear free, and ultra gentle made to balance pets pH numbers.

Ready to Bathe Your Dog?

Now that you've learned how to bathe a dog, let us know what tips and tricks helped you and your furry friend. Making bath time a fun and easy experience can take some time and work. But it is worth it in the end. Always reward them with lots of love, yummy treats, or play time.

Simplified Recap of How to Bathe a Dog

When getting ready to bathe your dog, just think of all of the positives it brings! Bathing keeps your pet’s coat and skin healthy, reduces allergies, and decreases the chance of infection. In addition to this, trapped allergens such as grass, pollen, mold, and dirt will be washed away from their coat, giving you a fresher environment. It's best to bathe a dog with normal health conditions around once a month, or if they become stinky.

Keep these fool-proof steps in mind for how to bathe a dog.

  • Step 1: Prepare your bathing area with towels + any shampoos, conditioners, and face washes so that your dog is not left unsupervised
  • Step 2: Brush your dog's fur to reduce the chances of tangling and matting
  • Step 3: Wet your dog down with room temperature water since dogs get burned easily
  • Step 4: Soap your dog up with a nourishing pet safe shampoo while massaging to encourage blood flow
  • Step 5: Rinse them thoroughly, ensuring no soap is left to cause potential irritation
  • Step 6: Dry them well with absorbent towels. You don't want an uncomfortable cold pup or wet furniture!

Now go and have some caring bonding time with your furry companion!

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Brianna LaFluer
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