How Do I Give My Dog A Bath?

And how often? 🛀

dog in a towel in front of bathtub

Do you dread giving your dog a bath?

Bath time can be super stressful for dogs (and dog parents), but if you know how to bathe your dog, it can really be a quick and easy process.

The Dodo spoke to Daryl Conner, a professional groomer and owner of FairWinds Grooming Studio, and Dr. Andrea Y. Tu, medical director of Behavior Vets NYC in New York City, to find out the best way to bathe a dog.

Dog bathing supplies

Here are all the supplies you’ll need to give your pup the best bath:

Where to bathe your dog

Luckily, if you have a small- or medium-sized dog, you can probably bathe him in your sink, tub or shower.

But if your dog’s bigger, you may need to wash him outside or even get a dog bathtub. Dog bathtubs can be used indoors or outdoors, and they often have nonslip bottoms and include a hook for your dog’s leash to keep him in place so he won’t slide around.

You can get this bathtub from Amazon for $174.99

How to give your dog a bath step by step

Here are the steps to take to bathe your dog, according to a veterinarian and a professional groomer.

Brush your dog

Brush your pup before bathing him to get out any knots. Tangled hair traps water, which can lead to skin irritation, matting and hot spots.

“Acquire the appropriate type of brush and comb for your dog's coat type,” Conner told The Dodo.

If your dog has short hair, you should look for brushes with short or soft bristles. For long-haired dogs, look for brushes that detangle and deshedding tools (some short-haired dogs will need deshedding tools also).

Use warm water

You should use lukewarm water when washing your dog. It’s super important to make sure the water isn’t too hot for your dog because dogs can easily overheat, and hot water can burn their sensitive skin.

Use dog shampoo

Get a shampoo made specifically for dogs to wash your pup with. Using human shampoo on a dog can irritate his skin and can even be toxic if he swallows some.

“If you luckily have a dog that has fairly normal skin, it is still a good rule of thumb to use products that are made just for dogs and to double-check any over-the-counter shampoos with your vet before using it,” Dr. Tu told The Dodo.

Get your dog wet before applying the shampoo, and be sure to avoid getting soap in your dog’s eyes, ears, mouth and any other sensitive areas.

You can use a curry comb to help lather and scrub your dog’s fur for a super deep clean, too.

Rinse extra well

Make sure to get all the shampoo out of your dog’s fur. Leftover shampoo can irritate your dog’s skin.

“Pro tip: Rinse like crazy, then rinse again,” Conner said. “Products left in the coat can cause skin irritation and attract dirt from the environment to cling to the coat.”

Dry your dog

Dry your pup off with a towel or dog blow dryer.

Give him another brush

Your dog’s hair might develop knots from the bath or drying, so give him one more round of brushing after bathing him to make sure his fur is smooth and free from tangles.

Make your dog smell good

Put some dog perfume or cologne on your pup to make him smell extra good after his bath.

How to wash your dog’s face

When giving your dog a bath, you might need to wash his face sometimes, too. Dogs with long fur need to have the area around their mouths (aka their beards) wiped off from time to time because their hair collects food and water. And bacteria can grow in the skin folds of certain types of dogs, like pugs, which can cause infections.

To clean your dog’s face, use a damp washcloth, avoiding his eyes, nose and mouth. You can also try grooming wipes made for dogs.

This Wild One grooming kit received The Dodo’s Paw of Approval, and it includes super gentle, hypoallergenic grooming wipes that are perfect for wiping your pup’s face clean.

How to dry your dog

When using a towel to dry your dog, don’t rub his fur. Rubbing long-haired dogs will cause their hair to become tangled and knotted. Instead, use the towel to press down on his fur to soak up the moisture.

After drying your pup with a towel, you can use a dog bathrobe to absorb any excess water and keep him extra cozy. Dog bathrobes are also great for keeping your pup warm so he doesn’t cool down too fast when he gets out of the bath, which can cause hypothermia in extreme cases. Plus, it’ll keep your dog from rubbing his wet fur on rugs and furniture.

If your dog has long or thick fur, a dog blow dryer can be useful because it can take a while for all that hair to air-dry. Plus, dryers designed for dogs have a lower heat setting than hair dryers for humans, so they’re a lot safer to use.

To use a dog blow dryer, put it on the lowest heat and speed settings, avoid pointing it directly at your dog and brush your dog’s fur as you dry.

How often should you give your dog a bath?

Having a bath once a month is good for most dogs, but some dogs need to be washed more often.

Factors to consider when deciding how often to bathe your dog include lifestyle, skin conditions, type of coat and whether or not your dog’s actually dirty.

So if your dog spends a lot of time running around outside or rolling in the mud, that means he’ll probably need baths pretty frequently. “My rule of thumb on bathing frequency is that if the dog looks, smells or feels dirty, it's time for a bath,” Conner said.

And some dogs with skin conditions may need to be washed more often, especially if they’ve been prescribed a special shampoo for allergies or an infection.

You should also take into account your dog’s fur when deciding when to give him a bath. Some types of dogs have fur that gets dirty, oily or matted easily, so they’ll need to be washed often. Labs, for example, who have oily coats, and dogs with curly fur that’s prone to matting, like poodles, need more frequent baths.

Can you bathe a dog too much?

There actually is such a thing as being too clean when it comes to dogs. If you bathe your pup too often, you can strip the natural oils from his coat, which can make it dull, dry and itchy.

If you’re not sure how much bathing is too much, talk to your vet.

According to Dr. Tu, “The best way to determine what is best for your pup's individual needs is to speak to your veterinarian, as she or he will be most familiar with your dog's specific needs and can provide a recommendation that is tailored to you.”

So follow these steps next time you give your dog a bath, and bath time will be a breeze. And hopefully your dog will enjoy being bathed more than these dogs who hide in the funniest spot when it’s time to get in the tub.

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