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How to Bathe a Dog

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Learn how to bathe your dog in five steps.
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Pet owner bathing a Golden Retriever in bathtub with hand-held shower head.

    Bath time means different things to different dogs — and their owners. You may have a water lover, a water avoider or a dog that falls somewhere in between. Whether you choose to bathe your dog in a cozy bathroom or outdoors, you can help give your dog an enjoyable experience and get a clean pup at the same time.

    How to Give Your Dog a Bath

    Before you begin, stock up on the basics:

    • Choose a shampoo specially formulated for your dog’s skin. Human shampoos are not recommended, as they can 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 prefill your tub or sink to help reduce stress.

    Step 1

    Brush your dog to remove excess hair and tangles.

    Step 2

    Wet your pet’s entire body using lukewarm water, ensuring the water is not too hot.

    Step 3

    Apply the recommended amount of shampoo.

    • Cup your hand to cover the dog’s eyes.
    • Work the shampoo thoroughly into the coat from the neck down to the tail. Be careful not to get shampoo or water in your dog’s eyes or ears.
    • Pay special attention to the underside, feet and hard-to-reach areas.
    • If using a shampoo recommended by your veterinarian for a specific condition, be sure to follow label or veterinary instructions.

    Step 4

    Rinse your dog completely.

    • Cup your hand to cover the eyes and ears when washing and rinsing the face.
    • Remove all soap residue to help minimize flaking.

    Step 5

    Towel dry your dog.

    • Don’t use a blow dryer, unless it’s specifically designed for pets.
    • Be aware: Hot air can cause burns or irritate your dog’s skin.
    Advantage® Treatment Shampoo for Dogs & Puppies
    Advantage® Treatment Shampoo for Dogs & Puppies

    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 (like fleas, mites or lice) and allergies triggered by a variety of environmental factors.

    How Often Should You Give Your Dog a Bath?

    The short answer: It depends.

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    Woman rubbing soap on Golden Doodle’s head while giving it a bath.

    If you can smell your dog before you see your dog, it may be time for a bath. The same goes for visible dirt or mud, or after swimming in a lake.

    Beyond that, take your dog’s health, coat, breed and lifestyle into consideration, keeping in mind that too much bathing can irritate the skin. If you’re unsure what’s best for your dog, ask your veterinarian for a 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 them stay 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.

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