Bath time means different things to different dogs – and their owners. You may have a water-lover, a water-runner, or someone in-between. Whether you choose a cozy bathroom or the great outdoors, you can help give your dog an enjoyable experience and get a clean pup at the same time.
Why should you wash your dog?
Bathing your dog removes dirt, debris, skin flakes and odor. Proper bath products can also freshen, moisturize and condition your dog's skin and coat.
Veterinarians may also recommend medicated or specialty shampoos to help address skin conditions such as infections, parasites (fleas, mites, lice) and allergies triggered by a variety of environmental factors.
How to give a dog a bath
Before you begin, stock up on the basics: Choose a shampoo specially formulated for your pet's skin – human shampoos are not recommended as they can actually dry out your dog's skin. Lay out a comb, have plenty of towels on hand and keep all your supplies nearby. You may even want to pre-fill your tub or sink to help reduce stress.
- Brush your dog to remove excess hair and tangles
- Wet your pet's entire body using luke warm water, ensuring the water is not too hot
- Apply the recommended amount of shampoo
- Work the shampoo into your dog's coat
- Cup your hand to cover dog's eyes
- Work thoroughly into the coat from the neck down to the tail. Be careful not to get any shampoo or water in your dog's eyes or ears.
- Pay attention to the underside, feet and hard to reach areas
- If using a shampoo recommended by your veterinarian for a specific condition, follow label or veterinary instructions
- Rinse completely
- Cup your hand to cover the eyes and ears when washing and rinsing the face
- Remove all soap residue to help minimize flaking
- Towel dry
- Do not use a blow dryer unless it is specifically designed for pets
- Be aware: Hot air can cause burns or irritate your dog's skin
How often should you give a dog a bath?
It depends. If you can smell your dog before you see your dog, it may be a good time for a bath. The same goes for visible dirt or mud, or even after swimming in a lake. Beyond that, take your dog's health, coat, breed and lifestyle into consideration. Too much bathing can irritate the skin. If you're unsure what's best for your dog, ask your veterinarian for a frequency recommendation. It could be as often as monthly or as rarely as a few times a year.
Bathing your dog can play an important role in helping to keep your dog happy and healthy. After all, dogs sometimes need a bath to look, smell and feel their best. Always remember to reward your dog with plenty of love, affection and maybe even a treat.
Related article: How to clean your pet's ears