Skip to content
Tips for bathing your dog


Bathing your dog is essential for maintaining a healthy skin and coat. How often should you bathe your dog and how can you make the process easier? These dog bath time tips get you started.

Start early

For best long-term results, start bathing your dog as a puppy. This way you can help your dog acclimatize to bath time and understand that taking a bath is an integral part of his life. If you have any questions about when you should start washing your puppy, speak to your vet for advice.

The ASPCA recommends quarterly baths for your dog. Your dog’s first bath can be around eight weeks old. If your dog’s needs are different, you can talk to your vet. Unlike humans, dogs don’t need frequent baths to stay clean and healthy. Your dog may need a bath more often if he spends a lot of time outdoors or has certain skin conditions.

Consider their fur and skin

Different breeds of dogs have different bathing needs. Some dogs need extra vitamins and minerals to keep their fur healthy and shiny. Long-haired dogs may need conditioning treatment to help prevent tangles.

Dogs with sensitive or itchy skin may need specialized treatment. You may need to invest in a shampoo that contains soothing ingredients and prevents dryness. Talk to your veterinarian about the breed (s) of your dog and the shampoo and conditioner that is best for your pet.

If your dog has white fur, you may need a cleaner that does not contain any dye. If you use an orange-tinted shampoo, your dog’s coat may start to turn orange over time. If the shampoo bottle isn’t clear, unscrew the lid and look at the shampoo to see what color it is.

Start slowly

When your dog is a puppy, shampoo and conditioner aren’t as important. Get your dog used to bath time by using water and a washcloth or sponge. Make sure the water is at a comfortable temperature. Massage their skin and pay attention to their bath tolerance.

At this point, a short bath is okay as your dog is just getting started. If you notice that your dog is getting too anxious, end the bath and take him out to dry off. Slowly move on to longer baths and introduce cleansers when you feel they are ready.

Continued

Make bath time fun

You may feel stressed about giving your dog a bath, especially if he is doing a big mess, but it’s important to help your dog feel comfortable with the baths. Over time, they may start to look forward to a swim instead of dreading it and fighting against you.

Talk to your dog in a soothing voice during bath time and use encouraging words. Don’t underestimate the power of your words. When bath time is over, wrap your dog in a towel and snuggle up while he dries. Keep telling your dog what he has done right and why bath time is right for him. Even if they don’t understand all of your words, they will understand your meaning.

Sweet is better

Your puppy may be rambunctious, but you should compare their bath time to that of an infant. Don’t rub their skin too much at this age. Instead, use gentle strokes that follow their fur growth. The same tips apply when it’s time to brush or dry your puppy’s coat after bath time.

Rinse twice

It is important to remove all shampoo and conditioner from your dog’s fur. When you feel the rinsing is complete, continue. Cleaner residue can irritate your dog’s skin if too much is left. Work methodically from your dog’s neck down to his tail and gently massage his coat to allow the water to reach his skin.

Drying

If your dog’s coat is not too long or too thick, you may be able to get by by letting it air dry. For thicker or longer fur, use your hairdryer on its lowest, coldest setting. Brush your dog’s coat with the growth pattern and take it slow. Give your dog time to see that the hair dryer can be noisy, but it’s not scary. It can help to start further away from your head and work your way up.

Face and ears

Be careful around your dog’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth during bath time. Even though a shampoo says it won’t cause tears, the products can still irritate your dog’s eyes. Ingesting shampoo or conditioner may cause an upset stomach. Avoid your dog’s mouth and discourage him from drinking the bath water.

Talk to your vet about bath time tips for cleaning the inside of your dog’s ears. Avoid using shampoo and water as they can get stuck in the ear canal and cause infections. Instead, look for specialist treatments and tools designed for your dog’s ears.

Sources

SOURCES:

American Kennel Club: “Bathing Your Puppy: A Step-by-Step Guide,” “10 Grooming Secrets From Expert Show Dogs. “

ASPCA: “Dog Grooming Tips”.

VCA: “Grooming and caring for your dog’s coat. “


© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.