Everyday Care: Bathing your Dog

Bathing your dog may be necessary to help maintain a clean coat, or in order to treat certain IMG 7275 300x200 skin conditions using medicated shampoos. It is important to follow the directions from your veterinarian or on each shampoo bottle specifically, and these are only general guidelines.

Small dogs can be bathed in a sink or tub and larger breeds need to be bathed in either a larger tub or shower, or outdoors if weather is warm. After you have determined where to bathe your dog (sink, shower/tub or outdoors), start by assembling the necessary supplies; towel, large cup or small bucket for rinsing, shampoo, cotton balls, leash, hose (if outdoors).

Secure the dog using a leash to help you keep the dog in place for the bath. Next, place dry cotton balls in your dog’s ears to prevent water from getting into the ear canals during the bath. If bathing your dog indoors, bring water to an appropriate temperature (lukewarm). Wet the coat completely and thoroughly using either a large cup/small bucket of water or a hose if you are bathing your dog outdoors. Dogs with a thick undercoat (i.e. Siberian breeds) could take several applications of water for the coat to be wet through. Help water to penetrate the coat by running your hands through the dog’s coat several times while using the cup/bucket or hose.

Apply the shampoo to the coat and lather to spread using your hands. Pay careful attention to the face area and avoid eye contact. If shampoo enters the eyes, rinse thoroughly with water. Most shampoos require a contact time of several minutes. Again, be sure to follow the specific label instructions for your shampoo. After the appropriate time has elapsed, rinse your dog twice to ensure that all shampoo has been removed from the coat. Improper rinsing could lead to rashes or other sensitivities to shampoo ingredients.

Remove the cotton balls from your dog’s ears. Then use a towel to dry your dog until the coat is damp instead of dripping. A hair dryer on a low heat setting can be used for further drying. Long-coated dogs or dogs with a thick undercoat could take several hours to dry completely so you may want to have your dog in an area away from valuable carpet or furniture to allow for drying such as a dog bed or some old towels or blankets for them to lay on.

Monitor your dog’s skin after the bath for any adverse reaction (redness, itching, hives, rash) and contact your veterinarian if any problems are noted.

Want more information about brushing your dog? Click here!

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Dr Peter Nurre

Peter Nurre, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (internal medicine) is a board- certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. His professional interests include internal medicine and cardiology.

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