The Basics of Bathing Dogs

by Liza Blau
    With patience, Fido can learn to love his bath.

    With patience, Fido can learn to love his bath.

    Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Fido smells funky. When your pooch is outside he may play in mud puddles, frolic in piles of trash that he believes are toys, and roll around in dirt and who-knows-what else. You may not know exactly what Fido is coming into contact with, but his odor and dirty coat indicate he's in desperate need of a bath. Bathing your filthy four-legged friend may seem daunting, but learning bath basics can help make it a pleasant experience for both of you.

    Step 1

    Select a shampoo for your dirty pooch. Only use a shampoo that is specially formulated for dogs. Look for one that contains the ingredient chlorhexidine, which is a mild antiseptic, recommends Animal Planet. Never use your own shampoo -- shampoos designed for humans have a different pH level and can strip vital natural oils from your pup's delicate skin, leading to dryness, dandruff and scratching.

    Step 2

    Brush your pup's coat to remove matted fur, knots and tangles. A good brushing will also help to reduce excessive shedding during his bath and prevent future tangles while you're shampooing his coat. Brushing also frees trapped dirt, making it easier to wash out.

    Step 3

    Add 3 to 4 inches of lukewarm water to the bathtub, recommends the ASPCA. Test the temperature by sticking your hand into the water to make sure it's not too hot or cold. If it's an uncomfortable temperature for your furry friend, he'll associate bathing with a negative experience and resist future baths.

    Step 4

    Place cotton balls inside your pooch's ears to prevent water from entering his ear canals, which could lead to an ear infection. Dogs' ear canals should always remain dry to avoid creating a damp environment where fungus and bacteria can thrive.

    Step 5

    Pick up your pooch and place him into the bathtub. If the guy is too heavy for you to lift, toss his favorite treat into the tub to lure him into the water.

    Step 6

    Wet Fido's coat thoroughly with lukewarm water from the neck down, using a spray hose. You can find spray hoses designed specifically for dogs at most pet stores. If you don't own a spray hose, fill a pitcher or small bucket with lukewarm water and slowly pour it over him until his fur becomes saturated. Don't spray or pour water on his head area. Speak to him in a soothing tone during the process to help keep him calm.

    Step 7

    Massage the shampoo into your pooch's shoulders and slowly work your way down over his entire body. Make sure the shampoo penetrates his entire coat. Add more water if necessary to create a good lather.

    Step 8

    Add a dab of shampoo to a damp, warm washcloth and gently go over his face and head area. Be careful not to get water or shampoo into his eyes, ears and mouth. Rinse the washcloth and go over his face and head area again until you've completely removed all soap residue. Lift his chin slightly so any excess water runs down the back of his head, not over the face.

    Step 9

    Rinse the shampoo from his body using a spray hose or bucket. Repeat the rinsing process until all the shampoo is removed from his coat. Use your fingers to comb through his fur as you're rinsing to help eliminate any remaining shampoo. Shampoo residue can cause your pooch to have itchy skin and create a dull residue on his coat.

    Step 10

    Dry your clean canine with a large absorbent towel. You can purchase towels designed for drying dogs at pet stores that are more absorbent than regular bath towels. If you use a blow dryer to dry his coat, make sure it's one designed for dogs and keep it on a low heat setting to prevent drying his fur and burning his skin.

    Items You Will Need

    • Canine shampoo
    • Washcloth
    • Absorbent bath towel

    Tip

    • Place a rubber bath mat or towel both inside and outside the tub, which will help prevent your pooch from slipping.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Liza Blau received a B.A. in English from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in fiction anthologies from Penguin Press, W.W. Norton, NYU Press and others. After healing her own life-threatening asthma by switching to a whole, natural foods diet, she founded the NYC Asthma Wellness Center. Blau counsels individuals on healing their own asthma and allergies with dietary and lifestyle changes.

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