A Guide to Bathing Your Dog

Less Hassles and Better Benefits

Bathing your dog is easily the most exciting part of dog grooming – quick game of dodge the flying water, anyone? Let me help you get the most benefit from doggie bath time.

Bathing Your Dog – Supplies

Don’t use shampoo and conditioner made for humans when bathing your dog, their skin and hair is too different from ours. Instead, use bath products made for dogs.


Here are some of the different formulas of dog shampoo and conditioner.

  1. Standard: The all-purpose dog shampoo and conditioner is the kind most dog owners will reach for. Bathing your dog in all-purpose products like Tropiclean, Lambert Kay’s Fresh ‘n Clean, Bio-Groom, or Miracle Coat keeps their skin and fur fresh, and fights disease. Unless you’re pampering your dog, or bathing a dog with special needs, all-purpose works great.
  2. Tearless: If your dog has lots of fur or hair around the eyes, keep a tearless dog shampoo and conditioner on hand. Yorkshire Terrier owners love this stuff.
  3. Oatmeal: Dogs who need a sensitive cleanser and moisturizer, will benefit from oatmeal shampoos and conditioners. Great for bathing your hairless dog, dog with allergies or itchy skin, or dog with a fine, soft coat.
  4. Whitening: When bathing your dog whose breed has naturally white fur, you might appreciate a product like Super White from Bio-Groom.
  5. Special: If your dog has a skin problem and oatmeal shampoo is too harsh or lacks key nutrients, there are special dog shampoos and conditioners. Hot spots, infections, severe allergic reactions and so on … they all call for special treatment while bathing your dog.

Aside from the shampoo and conditioner, here are some other supplies useful when bathing your dog:

  • Vinegar and cotton balls
  • Ear drops and eye drops
  • Towels and a dryer

Bathing Your Dog –
Setting Up / Preparation

Make sure everything is ready before bathing your dog. Shampoos, conditioners, towels, ear and eye care items, etc should all be in the dog’s bath spot before the dog gets there. You won’t want to leave your dog unattended mid-bath.

As to where you can bathe your dog, anywhere appropriate for his size is fine. You might want a hair trap for the drain. A shower hose or sprayer sink attachment makes the job much easier.

Before bathing your dog outside, find a way to bring warm water to the dog. Cold water isn’t comfortable, and warm water removes more dirt and dead hair anyway. There are special products that are made for attaching hoses to your shower or sink, just for bathing your dog outdoors.

Instructions for Bathing Your Dog

These step-by-step instructions for bathing your dog are broken down into before, during, and after the bath.

Before Bathing Your Dog:

  1. Remove your dog’s collar and wash it in soap and water.
  2. Begin by brushing your dog. If it’s time for the weekly brush, be thorough. Otherwise, just make sure there’s no tangled or matted coat before you get the dog wet.
  3. If you’ll be using eye or ear drops, do that before bathing your dog.
  4. You may want to use a weak vinegar solution to rinse your dog. If so, get it ready by adding ½ a cup of vinegar to a bucket of warm water.
  5. Put cotton balls in your dog’s ears (without pushing them into the ear canal) to keep water out. This will help prevent ear infections.
  6. Make sure the water is coming out warm before you get your dog wet.

While Bathing Your Dog:

  1. Starting at the neck and working toward the tail, wet your dog with warm water. Avoid the face and ears when bathing your dog.
  2. Work the shampoo gently into your dog’s coat. Use enough shampoo to lather your dog’s whole coat.
  3. Rinse your dog thoroughly using water. If you’re using a vinegar solution, rinse with water and then with vinegar.
  4. Repeat with conditioner. When bathing your dog, make sure to rinse out shampoo and conditioner completely, and use your hands to ensure a clean rinse.
  5. While bathing your dog, feel his skin all over, to inspect for any trouble.

After Bathing Your Dog:

  1. Take the cotton balls out of your dog’s ears.
  2. Use a towel to remove as much moisture as you can. Be sure to dry his feet and legs to help your dog avoid slipping and falling. Take your dog someplace suitable to shake off.
  3. If using a dryer, use that next. A good blow dryer for use after bathing your dog, will blow more air than a typical hair dryer. Using a blow dryer is especially good during winter or with dogs who chill easily.
  4. Brush your dog again, so that mats and tangles that formed around soap residue and moisture, can be broken up.
  5. Rinse the collar and dry it thoroughly before putting it back on your dog.

Bathing Your Dog – Schedule

Typical dog breeds only need to be bathed once a month at most. There are exceptions: If your dog has hair instead of fur, such as a Maltese or a Yorkshire Terrier, then that dog should be bathed more often – at least twice a month. There are a few breeds that should only be bathed twice a year.

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