How to Properly Bathe a Dog

Lots of people cringe at the idea of giving Fido a bath. After all, many dogs are stinky, matted, and hate baths, right? Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no. First of all, if you teach your dog that bathing can be fun when they are puppies then it will be much easier to bathe them as they grow up. If bath time has always been accompanied by yelling, struggling, and stress, then yes, it may be a time of grief. Secondly, bath time doesn’t have to happen that often. Unless your dog is obviously dirty from getting into something or is having some type of skin condition that requires bathing, he doesn’t necessarily need a bath. Let’s explore the world of dog baths…

How Often Should I Bathe  My Dog?
This depends on you and on your dog. If your dog is lounging at home all day and only goes out on a leash to go to the bathroom, then he will probably hardly ever need a bath. On the other hand, if he’s running in fields all day and rolling in piles of mysterious matter, he may need a bath more often. Generally speaking, unless your dog is visibly dirty or stinks, don’t wash him. If you absolutely feel the need to wash him regularly, don’t go over about once a month. Too much washing is bad for his coat and for his skin. Excessive use of shampoos and soaps causes dry skin and can lead to dermatitis, lack of luster, and changes in the coat’s texture and color. Dogs with long hair may need more bathing than short-haired varieties.

But My Dog Hates Baths!
If you haven’t exposed your dog to many baths as a puppy or even if you have and he just can’t get used to it, you need to be patient and take extra time with him. Only bathe him when absolutely necessary and try to switch it up as much as you can. If it’s a hot, summer day for example, give him a bath in a kiddie pool with a hose. If it’s cold and wintery, put the heat on in the bathroom and put him in the tub. Either way, coax him with his favorite treats and take it slow. Each time you get him in the tub, leave him in a bit longer and make it as fun and exciting as you can. Of course, be careful to never get soap in his eyes, and never yell at him or become impatient.

Dog Shampoos
These are formulated especially for your dog’s sensitive skin and hair balance. It is formulated differently than human shampoo and will not dry out his skin or damage his coat the way people shampoo can. Dog shampoos are very gentle and contain ingredients that are all natural like aloe and oatmeal. In a pinch, only use baby shampoo or mix up some baking soda with water.

Jumping In
Once you have your dog in the water, keep a firm hold on him so he doesn’t slip or fall; serious injuries can occur in the tub for pets, too. Make sure you lather him good and don’t get any soap or water in his eyes or ears. If he’s being really good, this is a good time to slip him a treat. Make sure you rinse him very well and get out all the soap; left-over suds can cause irritation and rashes. Once he’s rinsed, dry him off with a towel and blow dryer. If you want him to air-dry, keep in mind that if he’s outside, more dirt will stick to his wet fur so let him inside to run around and dry. If the weather is cold, be sure to dry him completely.

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There are 2 comments

  • Laura Struble says:

    I have a 6yr. old female sheltie who has constantly licked her top of her paws and now the fur is off in a small spot. What should I do. I tried a boot to keep her from licking it but she chewed off the boot. Any suggestions? I tried to ask the vet their but could not find out how to. Star and I need some advice. Also I am lookinng for some type of support for her since she is a tri with right front leg missing due to an auto injury. I hope you can help.

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