How to Wash a Dog Safely and Effectively
How often you should wash your dog depends on several factors. These include the animal’s size, breed, the coat type and the level of his activeness. If your pet is an indoor one, you can bathe him as seldom as once in several months. Outdoor dogs, in the meantime, need more frequent baths. As a rule, dogs are afraid of bathing. But if you are “armed” with respective knowledge, you can turn the bathing process into a pleasant experience for both you and your dear pet.
Table of Contents:
Getting Prepared for Bathing a Dog
Instead of putting your dog into the bathtub and forcing him to stay under the shower, you’d better make all the preparations and ease the process. Here are the most important steps you need to take for preparing a dog for bathing:
Choosing a Location
The choice of bathing location depends on the dog’s size. If it’s a small one or a puppy, you can bathe him right in the kitchen or laundry sink. Larger dogs, meanwhile, will feel more comfortable being washed in bathtubs or showers. In all cases, you’d better put a towel on the bottom of the sink or tub to give the animal traction. A rubber mat will also do well against the slippery surface.
If it’s sunny and warm outdoors, take the bathtub outside. Make sure your garden is fenced as dogs can run away when they get upset or anxious while bathing.
Preparing Your Pet
If your pet has thick hair or double coat, brushing him will significantly ease his washing. Remove any matted areas or tangles beforehand. Additionally, if you detect any ticks, see your vet and get treatment for your pet.
In case your dog has paint, pine sap or any sticky substances in his fur, you will need to rub the area with vegetable oil, dish soap, or petroleum jelly and leave it for the whole day before washing him.
Trimming Your Dog’s Nails
In case your dog’s nails need trimming, do that before bathing him. Otherwise, he may get agitated during the bath and accidentally scratch you. Just be cautious not to cut the nails too short and harm the quick.
Prepare All the Necessary Things
Before heading to the bathroom, make sure all the necessary things are at hand. These are cotton balls, a towel, a shampoo for dogs, a sponge (a washcloth will do as well), and some treats. If you don’t have a detachable showerhead or plan to bathe your pet outdoors, prepare a vessel for rinsing him. Additionally, you’d better keep all the bottles uncapped not to keep your wet pet wait for you. If your pooch is nervous when bathed, ask someone he trusts to keep him steady.
Put Cotton to Your Dog’s Ears
It’s important to make a dog’s ear canals dry when bathing him. If they get wet it may lead to infections. That’s why you can put cotton balls to your dog’s ears. Just don’t push the balls too far.
And finally, remove the collar so that you can clean his neck, too. But if you want to keep it to hold the dog, you’d better use a nylon collar. Do never use a leather collar as it may shrink when wet and choke the animal.
Bathing the Dog
Now, when you have prepared everything necessary, it’s time to start bathing your four-legged friend. Here are the steps to adhere to:
Choosing the Right Temperature
To wash a dog without harming him you must set normal water temperature. It should be neither hot nor too cold. Coldwater can chill the animal while hot water will burn him. The water you fill the tub with should be about the pet’s knees.
Wetting the Dog
Now wet your dog’s coat through. Avoid wetting his head and face. Pour the water from the neck to back. If your pet has a thick coating, it might take longer to have it completely saturated with water. Using a detachable showerhead with high water pressure is not recommended. This might startle the animal and he will refuse to stay calm.
Applying the Shampoo
If you are bathing a dog with short coating, apply a strip of a dog shampoo down his body and massage into the coat. In case the coat is thick, you’d better mix the shampoo with water to get an even lather. Specialists don’t advise using a sponge, yet you wish, use it. Washing a dog with your hands will not only spread the lather more evenly but also help you detect any inflammations or bumps on the skin if there are any.
To clean a dog’s face, you shouldn’t use shampoo. Neither should you wet it. Just wipe his face softly with a wet washcloth.
Washing the Body
When washing a dog, lather up his entire body except for the head. Accurately wash his stomach, armpits, paws, groin area, and tail. The shampoo must remain on your pet as long as it’s written on the bottle. If it has flea repellents, you will need to leave the lathered dog for the necessary time.
Cleaning the Face
The face of a dog should be cleaned separately. For this use a washcloth. Just wipe your pet’s face with it avoiding his ears. If he has folds, accurately clean in between them. Be attentive to detect any skin infections on your pet’s chin. If there are any, consult with a vet.
Rinsing the Dog
Give a responsible approach to rinsing your dog after washing him. No residue of the shampoo must be left on his coat. Even if the dog has a double coat or long hair, you should rinse him properly, otherwise, he will experience pH imbalance and skin irritation. For this, rinse him with water until the water from his coat runs clear (avoid pouring water onto his head).
Drying the Dog
Although every dog has an instinct to shake himself dry after bathing, you still need a highly absorbent microfiber towel or at least a regular bath towel. Lay it on his back and pat gently until he gets dry. Remember not to rub your pet as this will cause matting (especially if the dog is a long-haired one). If you are using a hairdryer, set it on either the minimal temperature not to burn your dear pet. Do not point it at his face.
Combing the Dog
Does your pet have long hair or thick coating? If yes, then comb it out right after drying him. It’s much easier to comb a dog’s hair and avoid its tangling while the hair is a little bit wet, yet.
Award Your Dog with Some Treat
It’s important to associate bath time with something positive for your dog. To do this, give him a treat after every bath. Praise him, pat and play with him so that he learns that the bathtime shouldn’t be frightened of.
P.S. In case your dog is very nervous during washing, give him treats not only after the bathing but also during the process.
Grooming the Dog
Once you have washed your dog, dried and combed him, it’s time to groom him. When you learn how to wash a dog, you should also learn how to groom him properly. After this, your pet will look clean and tidy, and smell good. You can hug him and inhale his fresh odor! Here is what you should do for grooming.
Cleaning the Dog’s Ears
After washing your dog, remove the cotton balls from his ears. Then clean the ears with a special ear rinse that can be bought from specialized stores. You can also use a mixture of organic apple cider vinegar and purified water, hydrogen peroxide, or hazel. Cleaning the excess earwax is very important as it may cause irritation or even infection. Follow these steps:
- Apply a little bit of the solution to a cotton ball (avoid using cotton swabs as they may harm your pet’s eardrums);
- Rub it inside and around your dog’s ear until the cotton ball is clean of any earwax residue;
- Do not pour the cleaning solution directly into his ears;
- If your pet has hair growing straightly from his ear canals, this may bring to tangled ear hair and infections, consequently. Consult a veterinarian in such a case.
Cleaning off Tear Buildup
Some dog breeds suffer from such a condition when tears overflow onto their faces as epiphora. Among these breeds are chihuahuas and terriers. To avoid irritation and bacterial infection, you should wash the extra tear buildup. Adhere to these steps:
- For cleaning your dog’s eyes, use colloidal silver available in liquid drops and spray forms. The latter is effective and completely safe for pets. Apply it to a clean cotton ball and wipe it around your pet’s eyes.
- Is the skin under the eyes is irritated, dab a little bit of coconut oil beneath the eyes.
- Today you can find tear stain cleansers in specialized stores. These are easier to use. If you but them, make sure they are hypoallergenic and don’t contain tylosin tartrate. The latter is a form of antibiotics not appropriate for cats and dogs.
- Distichiasis, typical for Shih Tzus and poodles, is a health condition when eyelashes grow inwards and cause excessive tearing and eye irritation. If you notice any signs, apply to a veterinarian.
- Despite often being advised by some “experienced dog keepers”, milk of magnesia, human eye drops, apple cider vinegar and such like stuff shouldn’t be used to clean a dog’s eyes.
Awarding Your Pet
Now, when your pet is completely clean, award him with his favorite treats. Pat him and play with him as a reward.
Useful Tips of Bathing a Dog
Now you already know well how to wash your dog without harming or scaring him. You see, making bathing a pleasant experience for your four-legged friend isn’t difficult. And if you wonder how often you need to wash your dog or how to choose the best shampoo for your dog, keep on reading the article.
Don’t Wash Your Dog Too Frequently
Washing a dog too often isn’t a good idea unless he has a skin infection. Generally, it’s recommended to bathe a dog once a month when he starts smelling bad (for indoor dogs) or gets too dirty (outdoor dogs). Too frequent baths can cause skin irritation. Instead of washing your pet, you can brush him often to keep him neat between baths.
Adapt Your Pet to Bathing Wisely
If it’s the first time you bathe a dog in your house and the environment is not familiar to him, he may easily get frightened and not let you bathe him. So that he associates baths with pleasant experiences, there are several tips to adhere to:
- Place the animal in an empty tub and speak to him calmly before switching on the water.
- Don’t hurry with running warm water over your dog. Work your way up slowly by rewarding him with treats.
- Start bathing your pet when he is five-weeks-old. The sooner he gets used to washing the better.
Picking Up the Best Shampoo for Your Dog
When choosing a shampoo for your dog you should be guided with the following recommendations:
- Pick up a mild shampoo designed especially for dogs (with a neutral pH balance and no colors or fragrances).
- If you can’t determine, start with an oatmeal shampoo as it’s completely safe.
- A tea tree shampoo is a good option for those dogs which have skin problems and scratch a lot. However, you should be cautious with it as tea tree oil is toxic when swallowed.
If your dog has fleas, use special shampoos designed for preventing flea infestations. These usually contain citrus oil, pyrethrum, or pyrethrin.
Don’t Touch Your Dog’s Anal Sacs
A dog has small sacs on at the edge of his anus. Some dog owners prefer to squeeze them during bathing. If you exactly know how to do this, it’s OK. Otherwise, don’t try to touch them. In case of irritation or inflammation of anal sacs, contact your veterinarian.