BATHING YOUR DOG
Updated: Feb 11
If you're a pet lover, have a dog, or are thinking of welcoming a pet dog into your life, this collection of tips is for you. It’s important that you know about grooming and bathing care.
Remember, dogs don’t naturally bathe. But with love, patience, a little work and these tricks you can make bath time a good time.
Check out these pro tips to make bath time happier, healthier and more comfortable,
What to do before your dog gets wet
Comb out the tangles:
Remember that you should never wash your dog if it has knots or matted hair hair. These can trap water, shampoo, or even dangerous dirt and bacteria next to the skin. This can lead to bad smell, irritation, or even infections. Always brush your dog’s coat thoroughly before bathing. This also speeds up rinsing, washing and drying times, which is always a good thing.
Get the right products:
Most pet shampoo will do the job just fine, but using the right shampoo can make a world of difference. When choosing a shampoo, consider your dog’s skin. For dry skin, you should choose a mild shampoo, for more oily coats, a stronger shampoo. Many shampoos include extracts and additives to help moisturise and soothe irritation such as colloidal oatmeal or aloe vera. Many dogs will appreciate these extra features, but the right strength is more crucial to good coat health than anything else.
Conditioners are more optional than you might think. Generally most dogs will not need an additional conditioner if you use the right shampoo. Long coats or stiff, wiry coats may benefit from a conditioner. Experimentation is key. Just remember that OVER-moisturised skin can cause itchiness too.
Many commercial shampoos are fairly thick, and will end up as glops in your dog’s coat. If you have this problem, simply mix the shampoo with a bit of warm water in a separate container. A thinner mix will penetrate the coat to the roots and aid rinsing. If you are washing an extra dirty dog, you can wash them twice!
Prepare your area:
For a calm and easy bath time, make a dog washing station in your shower. Cover the drain with a hair catcher to prevent fur from clogging it. Use a non-slip tub liner, or cut a hole in an old bath mat so it fits over the drain to prevent your dog from slipping.
Have towels handy, more than you think you will need. Mopping up spills, or wiping soapy water out of your own eyes will need an extra towel or two besides the big fluffy one your fur baby will be snuggled in after all the scrubbing is done.
Suction cup hooks can be your (second) best friend. They are available at hardware or home goods stores. place them in strategic locations and use a leash or rope to tie your dog. Leave enough slack that your puppy doesn’t feel trapped, but short enough that they can’t get out. You will save time and stress, and your dog will learn that jumping out isn’t going to work.
Easy Bath Time
Stop the tears and wet ears
You want to be very careful not to get water into your dog’s ears during the bath. Not only is it uncomfortable for them, it’s something that can cause health problems. Put a cotton ball in each ear canal to prevent water from getting inside; just make sure you take it out after the bath.
Most shampoo is tear-free. But if your dog has a history of eye irritation, or you just want to add that extra peace of mind, you can buy special ointment to protect the eyes during bathing. If you suspect that you have gotten soap in their eyes, use your hand to cup the water and gently flush the eyes. Most dogs don’t mind a gentle eye rinse, but will shake if they feel the water in their ears or on their nose.
(there’s a video for this)
Use a sprayer or a cup
Use a handheld sprayer or a large cup to rinse your dog. This gives you more control and everyone involved will find bath day a whole lot more pleasant.
A sprayer will penetrate the coat and help exfoliate and wash away deep dirt. Be careful to not use too much pressure, just enough to reach the roots, but not too much that it splashes off, or is uncomfortable for your dog’s skin.
Some dogs will find a cup to be less threatening than the noise and pressure of a sprayer. You will need to be extra mindful to rinse those hard-to-reach areas and their under-side, where gravity is working against you.
Splish and Splash
Wet your dog completely, down to the skin, nose to tail. Start shampooing at the neck and work your way down his body to tail and toes. Wash the head last. Keep the praise coming for your dog and keep your attitude calm and positive.
When you get to the tail, you can empty your dog’s anal glands. These little organs produce a stinky fluid that dogs use to mark their territory. Most dogs will empty their glands every day when they defecate. But emptying during the bath can keep your furry friend smelling fresh for a few days longer. It's a good idea to have someone at your veterinarian's office or groomer demonstrate the technique, it's not hard to do, but easier to learn if you see it done.
(we have a video for this, it’s on tiktok right now)
After washing your dog, make sure that you rinse his coat thoroughly. Left over soap residue will cause itching and flaking. Start at their head, be careful about their eyes, ears and nose. and work your way to the tail and down to the feet. Remember to pay special attention to any hard to reach areas. Run your fingers through the coat all over to check for any soap you may have missed.
If you want to use a conditioner, apply it now, and rinse in the same way. Be sure to read the instructions. Some conditioners are no-rinse or semi-rinse.
Out of the Tub
Dry your dog
While dogs will tend to instinctively shake off excess water after getting wet, you will probably also need to help them dry off with some large absorbent towels. After this, most dogs can be allowed to air dry naturally. If you are in a hurry, or worried about cold weather, or a wet spot on your sofa, you can use your hair dryer and a gentle brush to speed up the process. ALWAYS use the cold setting! Dog’s skin is very sensitive to heat and can be easily damaged by excessive heat.
Brush your dog
Brushing your dog is the single most important grooming you can do for your dog. Daily brushing will keep shedding to a minimum, prevent tangles, exfoliate itchy skin, and reveal wounds, sores, or parasites before they become severe problems. Many dogs will be uncomfortable at first, and may have areas that are sensitive. Time and patience are the key. Don’t give up, and try to not get angry or discouraged if it takes a little time for both of you to find the right rhythm. This is normal. Consult your groomer about which combs, brushes, tools and techniques may be appropriate for your dog’s coat.
Many owners and pets dread bath time. It can seem like an impossibly difficult task. But with a little preparation, a lot of love, and a couple simple tricks, it can be a valuable tool for your dog’s well being and your own enjoyment of your clean, fluffy puppy!