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Giving your furbaby proper baths is a necessary part of their grooming and good hygiene, in this article we will give you tips on how to give your dog a bath at home.
Primarily, giving them baths will remove visible dirt caught from doggy walks and playing around your home.
But in addition to maintaining a clean coat, bathing also helps keep it healthy and free from harmful parasites such as ticks, mites, and fleas.
As pet parents, we must know that while bathing is essential for all dogs, they do not require bathing at the same frequency depending on their breed, fur quality, and environment, which may affect the appropriate interval between baths.
As much as we want our dogs to smell fresh and clean, getting to that point isn’t always easy. Dogs are not excited to jump into your bathtub for proper washing.
A trained groomer or your veterinarian may better handle giving baths to anxious dogs, but if you decide to do this yourself, we got it covered for you.
In this article, we will be covering in-depth the guides on bathing your dog the easy way. Read on to make those washings as enjoyable and stress-free as possible using these expert tips on how to bathe a dog at home.
Benefits of Bathing Your Dog
1. Good For Health
Although some short-haired dogs seldom need a bath, all dogs benefit from frequent bathing, which becomes a good hygiene measure. Bathing can soothe sensitive skin, which is common in dogs.
Some dogs are more prone to skin conditions such as Labrador Retrievers, which can have allergic skin, and Golden Retrievers that can develop hot spots.
A bath is also effective in treating dogs infected with MRSI (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus intermedius), an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.
MRSI is more common in dogs than you expect, and bathing your furbaby is one of the first lines of treatment ahead of antibiotics.
Be sure to ask your veterinarian about protecting yourself against possible human transmission if a resistant bacterial infection is available, for which bathing is prescribed as part of the treatment.
Bathing should never be used as a home remedy to treat skin conditions. If your dog’s skin is red, itchy, dry, has wet patches, or visible and abnormal shedding of fur, immediately seek a veterinarian for diagnosis.
2. Removes Unpleasant Odor and Dirt
When your dog walks into the room covered in dirt and has this unpleasant smell of wet garbage, you know that your furbaby needs a bath.
A good soak in water and thorough scrubbing will ensure that your dog is cleansed of dirt, smelling, and looking great.
3. Improves the Relationship
Even overly excited dogs can learn to enjoy bath time through training, treats, and a lot of love. Especially for puppies, bath time is your opportunity to teach them to trust you.
When you reach that point, bathing becomes an excellent chance for the two of you to connect as you spend time loving and caring for them.
4. Less Shedding
Habitually brushing with a good brush and washing your furbaby will help in taking care of excess fur. The more frequently this is done, the less loose hair they’ll have to shed, which can be annoying to find all over your furniture. This will cut down the time you spend going around your house with a lint roller or a vacuum.
Why Do Dogs Hate Getting Baths?
Other than visiting your vet, nothing can make some dogs more scared than bath time. If your dog becomes squirmish during every bath, getting him clean can be stressful not only for them but also for their pet parent. So, why does bathing scare our furbabies so much?
1. It’s a New Experience
There are first times for everything, and not all first times are a great experience for dogs, including bathing.
If your furbaby is not exposed earlier in life to take some time in the tub, getting a bath can be different and weird, so you’ll want to make it as enjoyable as possible.
2. Lots of Unwanted Contacts
Some dogs love to swim in the pool, but being in the bathtub is usually the total opposite. Whenever they are swimming, they feel free as no hands are holding them and giving them restrictions.
On the other hand, if a dog is in the bathtub, his owner often holds him down and keeps him still.
Some dogs also don’t like being touched in ways that they are not familiar with. If this describes your dog, he might not be used to massaging and scrubbing his coat with water and shampoo.
3. Bathtub Floor
Some dogs hate baths because they find bathtubs awkward and hard to stand on since it doesn’t offer much friction and stability.
If you think that your dog is uneasy about the slippery floor, consider bathing him in your yard with a hose or place a slip-resistant mat at the bottom of the tub to give him more traction and feel more comfortable.
4. Fear of Running Water
Be honest, we’ve been there too. We are sometimes scared to take a bath because the water might be too hot or too cold. This also happens to our furbabies.
While some dogs might be fascinated by seeing running water through a faucet, others might not be so charmed about it.
Many dogs dread bathing because the sight and loud sound of running water are terrifying to them. Giving a bath in your yard with a hose might be handy on your furbaby.
5. Shampoos With Fragrances
Dogs might hesitate baths because they don’t like the fragrance of their shampoo. When bathing your dog, choose a shampoo specially formulated for dogs. Shampoos for other animals are unsuitable for them, including humans’ shampoo.
Human shampoos are overly aggressive on dogs’ sensitive and delicate skin and fur. To avoid irritating your dog with the overwhelming fragrance of shampoo, look for a mild variety that either is unscented or has a significantly subtle scent.
Your vet might be able to give you some reliable suggestions, so don’t hesitate to ask them.
How Often Should You Give Your Dog a Bath?
While dogs don’t need daily baths as we do, they still need regular baths. But how often is regular bathing?
It depends on several factors, such as your furbaby’s lifestyle, type of coat, skin sensitivity, and medical needs. If dogs are bathed too often, you run the risk of removing the natural oils that help keep their skin and coat healthy.
If your pooch has a healthy coat and normal skin, bathing no more than once a month is enough. Unless advised by your vet, do not bathe your dog more than once a week, as this can dry out their skin and damage their beautiful fur.
Some coat types don’t need frequent baths due to the presence of natural oils in the skin that shed dirt and keeps their fur from absorbing bad odors.
1. Coat Type
Siberian Huskies bear this type of coat, which is fortunate for them since they have instinctual hate of getting bathed. However, they need meticulous and constant brushing to prevent dead fur from building against their skin, leading to overheating.
Dogs with smooth coats, such as Pitbulls and Greyhounds, do not need frequent bathing since it is easy to wipe them clean simply.
Meanwhile, breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and Rottweilers, which have a short and smooth double-coat with a down-like layer underneath the topcoat can be maintained through frequent brushing, which means bathing can be done less often.
If your dog has a hair-like coat, similar to Yorkshire Terriers and Poodles, they will need haircuts coupled with regular baths. A full groom should be done for about every four to twelve weeks, depending on how long you like to let their fur grow in length.
2. Medical Needs
Dogs with dermal conditions which cause sensitive skin should be bathed on a schedule recommended by your veterinarian.
When starting a remedy for sensitive skin, many dogs will require more frequent baths using prescription shampoos to aid their skin recovery. Once the skin is repaired, bathing too often might strip the skin oils that may lead to irritation.
If your dog has skin allergies triggered by environmental factors, such as grass and pollen, bathing should be done more frequently to remove any allergens from their coat.
It is essential to speak with your veterinarian to set a bathing schedule that will work best for your dog and their medical needs.
If your furbaby finds the joy in rolling in every puddle of mud they come across while walking, you’ll need to bathe them more often. Pet parents who allow their dogs to sleep in their beds with them usually bathe their dogs more frequently than others.
Dogs that spend a lot of time hiking or dogs that spend most of their time outdoors might need bathing more often than dogs who prefer to stay inside your home.
Doggy Bathing Essentials
Similar to humans, dogs have their bathing routines that will require help from different bathing essentials. Before you get wet with your furbaby, it is essential that you have everything you need.
1. Dog Brush
Brushing your dog’s coat is an essential part of canine maintenance. It serves many functions such as eliminating tangles, keeping their coat looking beautiful, massaging, and lubricating their skin by stimulating their natural oils, and keeps pet hair away from clothing and furniture.
Brushing your dog’s coat is vital before and after you bathe them. Your dog’s coat type decides which comb or brush will work appropriately for brushing.
There are four main types of dog brushes: slicker brushes, rakes, bristles, and pin brushes. Below, you will find out which brush type is perfect for your dog.
- Slicker Brushes
Slicker brushes have narrow and short wires joined together on a flat surface. They are used on dogs with medium to long fur or curly-haired dogs to remove tangles.
There are many diverse kinds of slicker brushes on the market, but choose one that is the correct size with a flexible handle to make brushing your dog more comfortable.
Rakes are brushes intended to get into a dog’s thick coat and remove tangles and dead undercoats near a dog’s skin.
They are usually shaped like a shaving razor and may feature one or two rows of tightly spaced pins. Like razors, they are intended to be used with minimum pressure.
Rakes should be used on thick-haired dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Malamutes, and Chow Chows.
These breeds develop dead undercoats, especially during shedding season, and their thick coats also tend to trap dirt and debris that may cause discomfort to them.
- Bristle Brushes
Bristle brushes are perfect for short-haired, smooth-coated dogs that shed frequently. Its clusters of tightly packed natural bristles will remove loose hair and stimulate the skin.
A bristle brush is perfect to be used for breeds such as Pugs, Italian Greyhounds, and Boston Terriers.
- Pin Brushes
Pin brushes look similar to brushes used by people. They are usually oval-shaped, with a loosely arranged set of bendable wires with pins on top.
Pin brushes are the most commonly used type of brush, but often the least beneficial. They will pick up loose hair or finish and fluff a well-brushed coat, but provide little benefit to your pet.
Pin brushes are best used as finishing touches to your grooming process. If you are uncertain of which brush is best to use, ask a pet care expert or veterinarian for assistance.
2. Dog Shampoo
Use a shampoo formulated specifically for dogs as these are specially mixed for dog’s skin quality.
Avoid using human shampoos because they have too high of an acidity level for your dog’s skin and coat.
The pH balance of human skin is different from dogs, and shampoos made for us can dry out their skin and coat and cause irritation from scents and other chemicals.
Human skin registers a five on the acid-alkaline spectrum, meaning that it is more acidic. Meanwhile, dogs have a seven, which is a neutral pH balance.
If you were to use human shampoo, you could harm your dog’s skin and fur, leaving them vulnerable to viruses, parasites, dry and irritated skin.
Dish soaps should also be avoided unless recommended by your veterinarian for specific reasons, such as grease or oil-based toxins on their coat.
3. Dog Conditioner (Optional)
This bathing product is optional but can be helpful in a couple of ways. It helps in detangling any knots and makes your dog’s fur extra soft. If you’re bathing your dog more frequently due to sensitive skin or more of an outside dog, conditioning after applying shampoo helps keep their skin and coat moisturized.
4. Towels and Blow Dryer
A great mess, that’s what you will see if you let your soaking wet dog run around your house after taking a bath. Use a super-absorbent microfiber towel to make drying a breeze.
If your dog has a thick or long coat, blow-drying is best to help prevent hot spots and lessen the risk of tangling of the fur that regularly happens when dried naturally.
Regular blow dryers can dry your furbaby, but keep in mind to use the lowest heat setting. A dog grooming blow dryer gets the job done more efficiently and will also blow out excess fur.
Where Should I Bathe My Dog?
The best way to give a dog a bath starts with the area where you are bathing them. Pet parents of smaller dogs have an advantage since they can just put their dog in a sink or a laundry tub.
But if you can’t fit your dog in a sink, use your bathtub, or get in the shower and bathe them using a detachable nozzle.
If you have the extra money to spend, a portable doggy tub is also an option. While some tubs are made of heavy plastic, others are collapsible and can quickly be used outside or in the laundry room.
Check out your nearest grooming or pet supply stores if they rent out dog tubs.
Using a garden hose can be used if the dog is truly filthy and the weather’s good, but as much as possible, make it a once in a while experience. Dogs don’t like being cold, and the thought of having a water hose shot at them may be stressful.
How To Bathe a Dog the Easier and Neater Way?
1. Brush Your Dog Before The Bath
It is advisable to brush your dog before the bath because it helps remove excess fur and allows the shampoo to enter properly into the skin.
This step is also helpful in finding any tangles that need detangling. Prior brushing also means you won’t waste time and shampoo while washing fur that will end up in your drain.
For thick double-coated breeds, pre-bath brushing with a blowout helps remove excess fur more easily.
2. Time to Get Wet
Test the water’s temperature first to make sure it’s lukewarm. Then, make sure to saturate your dog’s coat thoroughly. For thicker or water-resistant coats, you have to be more patient, which may be challenging and time-consuming.
While wetting your dog, do not forget to shower them with abundant praise, petting, or toys to maintain calm and, additionally, for them to associate bathing with positive results.
3. Applying the Shampoo
When applying shampoo, be careful to avoid contact with sensitive areas, including his eyes and face. Instead, use a dampened cloth with just water to moisten and wipe their face.
Work the shampoo into a lather, adding water if needed. Massage your dog as you rub in the shampoo, similar to how you’d do on your head.
Dogs will find this feeling perfectly pleasant. Don’t forget to scrub their paws, stomach, armpits, and tail as these areas are often overlooked during the hygiene process.
While massaging your furbaby, talk to them in a calm and reassuring voice. So they know that you’re not punishing them, but be aware that others will continue to hide under the kitchen table whenever you get out a towel. Just be consistent, and with repetition, your dog will acknowledge bathing as something positive.
Let the shampoo sit on your dog’s coat for a couple of minutes before thoroughly rinsing them.
4. Rinse Thoroughly
Rinse your dog until the water runs clean of dirt and shampoo bubbles. Start rinsing from the back of their neck and between the front shoulders and then work in a head-to-tail direction to make the most of each rinse. Don’t forget to rinse the hidden areas, like your dog’s armpits, stomach, and between their toes.
We don’t want any shampoo residue in our dog’s coats after their bath. If you notice a darker spot where the fur seems to be clumping together in their coat while drying them off, that’s a sign of shampoo residue. Redo the rinsing process and focus on that area.
5. Drying Your Dog After Their Bath
No matter where you bathe your dog, don’t forget drying as this is a vital part of the bathing process to keep your furbaby comfortable and healthy.
Moisture trapped on their skin for too long may lead to itching and skin infections. Additionally, damp fur can get tangled more quickly than dry fur.
If your dog has a single-layer coat then a good towel drying should be enough, but if he has a double coat or hair-like coat then better to blow dry.
For drying your dog’s face and head, it’s easiest to towel dry rather than blow dry. Dry their face and head first, then work your way on drying their bodies to give their face some time to air dry.
If you’re using a blow dryer for nearby areas, such as their chest area, use a hand to shield their ears and eyes from the blowing air.
If you decide to let your dog air dry, you still have to towel off as much as possible first, and then brush their coat every few minutes while they dry. For hair-like coats, this is essential to prevent tangles since, as the coat dries, it can start to curl up and get knotted.
Once your furbaby is all dry, reinforce good bathing behavior by rewarding them with a new toy, or a treat.
If your furbaby knows that there’s a special treat waiting for them at the end of each bath, you can ensure that they will be on their best behavior. And that’s it! Be patient and consistent in doing these steps for stress-free bathing.
To summarize what we have tackled, you can view this short informational video on how to give a bath to your furbaby:
Do you have other techniques on how to give your dog a bath at home? Do you have any tricks for getting them into the tub? Let the pet parents community know in the comments below!
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a pet expert with more than 20 years of experience working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals since a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.
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