Dogs 101: Everything You Should Know About Bathing Your Dog

DogTime October 18, 2019

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Most dogs would rather skip bath time, but bathing plays an important role in the health of your dog’s coat and skin, helping to keep your dog clean and free of dirt and parasites.

And of course, there’s the added benefit of making your pooch more pleasant to be around.

Here are a few FAQs and answers about giving dogs baths that should help you get started. As always, ask your vet about your pooch’s needs before you start!

How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

While dogs don’t require daily scrub downs like we do, they do need regular baths–but just how regular depends on several factors, such as the dog’s environment and type of coat.

Your veterinarian can give you advice on how much bathing is appropriate for your individual dog.

Here are some general guidelines:

Of course, if your dog likes to go swimming, is obsessed with mud puddles, or lives in the country and does a lot of rolling in who-knows-what, then you may want to bathe more frequently than if that same dog lived in a condo in the ‘burbs.

That said, avoid bathing more often than truly necessary, or you’ll strip your dog’s coat of its natural oils, making it dry and more prone to dandruff, frizzies, and mats. Some shampoos may dry or irritate the dog’s skin more than others, in which case you should bathe less often or try a different shampoo.

Basically, the best way to gauge when your dog needs a bath is to give her a good sniff. How does she smell to you? Not so good? Start running the water.

Where Should I Wash My Dog?

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Owners of small dogs have an advantage–they can just plop the dog in a sink or laundry tub. But if you can’t fit your dog in a sink, use the bathtub, or get in the shower with them and use a detachable nozzle.

A portable doggy tub is also an option. While some tubs are made of heavy plastic, others are collapsible and can easily be used outside or in the laundry room or mudroom. Some grooming or pet supply stores rent out dog tubs and towels.

Using a garden hose is okay if the dog is truly filthy or the weather’s good, but make it an occasional experience. Dogs don’t like being cold any more than we do, and most don’t like having a hose shot at them.

How Should I Give My Dog A Bath?

Once you’re prepared to take on the task–with or without your dog’s cooperation–here’s what to do:

When Should I Go With The Pros?

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If the idea of wrestling your dog into a bath tub and expecting them to quietly tolerate being lathered and rinsed makes you laugh hysterically, then do what many opt for: take your dog to someone who makes bathing dogs their business.

Groomers will not only bathe your dog, but they’ll clip their nails, express anal sacs upon request, trim near the eyes, and dry them off. Most are priced reasonably.

Professional dog groomers are a must for certain breeds, such as Poodles, Yorkies, Maltese, Springers, and others with hair that grows long. Unlike fur, hair doesn’t shed, and it will keep growing until it gets cut–just like yours.

Even if your dog has fur instead of hair, groomers are helpful if your dog deeply hates baths. They’ve got lots of tried-and-true techniques for making even the most bath-averse canine behave.

What’s your technique for bathing your dog? Do you have any tricks for getting them into the tub? Let us know in the comments below!

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