12 Tips for Bathing Your Dog

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Follow these dog bath tips for an enjoyable bath time.

If dogs could create a master list of things they could do without, being bathed would definitely make the list. Even dogs that love to play in water and get dirty are less than thrilled about being bathed. In this article, we’ll give you tips for bathing your dog as well as information on installing a dog-washing station in your home.

The key to making the bathing experience as pleasant as possible for your dog is to be prepared and calmly assure him that it is a harmless, even fun, exercise. Part of this is choosing the right environment. A self-service dog wash provides a spot that’s equipped with everything you need. However, your dog might be more comfortable being cleaned at home. A small dog can be bathed in a sink and a large dog can be washed in a bathtub or outside.

How often should I bathe my dog?

Many dog owners, especially new ones, wonder how often they should bathe their dogs. Some pet parents follow a strict regimen, bathing and grooming their pets once a week. For others, bath time is when the dog’s natural odor begins to permeate the house. The truth is, depending on your dog’s breed, you may not need to bathe him that frequently. Some short-hair breeds, for example, don’t have much fur so they might get by with a weekly rub down with a hand glove and a full bath just once a month. Frequent bathing can strip a dog’s natural oils. These oils are a cause of the doggy smell, but they also help protect the skin. Bathe him too often and your dog may develop chronically itchy, dry skin, which can cause him to frequently scratch himself.

What Can I Use to Wash My Dog?

Of course, if your pooch loves the great outdoors, rolling and playing in the dirt and mud, then you’ll need to bathe him more often. This is fine as long as you don’t use dish soap or a product designed for humans. Veterinary dermatologists say that a mild hypoallergenic soap that’s formulated for veterinary use is all you need. “Formulated for veterinary use” means a product that’s designed to work with a dog’s body chemistry, which is different than the chemistry of a human’s skin and hair. While dish soap or your favorite shampoo might well strip away the dirt and the odor from your pet’s coat, it will also strip natural oils from their fur and may irritate their skin or cause adverse reactions.

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Experts say it’s safe to bathe your dog with veterinary shampoo once a week. On the other hand, if the veterinary shampoo you’re using contains medication or insecticide, follow your veterinarian’s instructions. Prescription shampoos treat specific problems and might require bathing more or less often than you usually do.

Bathing Tips

If you choose to bathe or groom your dog at home, gather the materials you’ll need— shampoo, comb or brush, sponge, hand towel, drying towel, and treats—beforehand so you’re not scrambling to get something after your dog is wet.

12 Dog Bathing Steps to Follow

When it comes time for your pup to get fresh and clean, follow these tips:

  1. Comb your dog’s coat before bathing. Wet fur mats more than dry fur and a wet tangled coat is harder to brush out and will take longer to dry. This will save you time and save your pet from an uncomfortable brushing.
  2. Put a bathmat or another surface beneath your dog to ensure he won’t slip.
  3. If your dog is super-nervous, enlist a friend or family member to keep your dog calm and distracted while you wash him.
  4. If your dog won’t try to escape, remove his regular collar and clean the fur beneath it. If you need to keep him tethered, put a waterproof collar on him.
  5. If you’re worried about getting water in your dog’s ears, place cotton balls in his ears.
  6. Bring the water source to a lukewarm temperature at low pressure before applying water to your dog’s coat.
  7. Shampoo your dog, making sure to avoid his head. Use a damp washcloth to clean his face.
  8. Thoroughly scrub your dog, including his stomach, armpits, tail, and paws.
  9. Rinse your dog thoroughly, again avoiding the head area.
  10. After you rinse the shampoo from your dog, be prepared for him to shake himself dry. Wearing casual clothes for bathing your dog is a good idea. Proceed to pat your dog dry with a towel. If you’re at a dog wash, you can use one of their dryers. Be aware, however, that the loud noises these make scare some dogs. If you’re at home, you can use a hair dryer.
  11. Some dog owners prefer to clean their dog’s ears and clip their nails during the process of bathing them. This is convenient, but for dogs that dislike one or both of these tasks, it’s best to perform them at a separate time.
  12. Once you finish, praise your dog and reward him with a tasty treat for a job well done!
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Consider Installing a Dog-Washing Station

Some dog owners don’t want to mess up their sink or bathroom and decide to build a dedicated wash station for their four-legged family members. The best time to install a dog-washing station is during a remodel or new home build, but putting one in an existing mudroom or laundry room isn’t that daunting so long as the plumbing is already in place.

Adding a pet-washing station to your home is similar to adding an additional shower or tub. A general contractor, architect, or designer will create a design and probably subcontract the work out to a plumber and tile installer. If you skip the contractor, start with a plumber who will put in the shower pan or basin, install the drain and hook up the fixtures. If tile work is needed, a tile installer will then lay and grout tile for the walls or tub itself.

In general, step-in showers are easier for big dogs. Elevated tubs are best for small dogs that can be lifted. The advantage of an elevated tub is they reduce the strain of having to lean down to wash your dog. Steps or ramps can help dogs get into a raised tub.

Features you can add include a flexible handheld showerhead, a clip on the wall to tether your dog during the bath, and a storage shelf for supplies. Dedicated dog-washing stations range from functional and simple to elaborate. The cost, of course, escalates depending on what goes into your creation.

Bathing your dog is part of maintaining good hygiene, and helps to keep him happy and healthy. Pet insurance may appeal to these types of committed dog owners. If you currently don’t have coverage for your pet, consider a highly-rated insurance company that can cover the majority of your pet’s unexpected veterinary costs. Pets Best offers flexible coverage options which include no annual or lifetime limits.

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