Dogs are great companions - until they need a shower that is!
Left unwashed, your pup’s fur can trap plenty of dirt, parasites, and other stinky stuff that they’re much better off without. To keep your dog clean and healthy, make sure to shower and groom your pup regularly! But how often is “regular”? And what do you have to look out for when bathing your dog?
Let’s talk about all the things you need to know about bathing your dog!
How Often Do I Bathe My Dog?
Dogs don’t sweat as much as humans do, and that means they don’t need as many showers as us! In fact, most dogs can get by with bathing once a month.
That said, there are other factors that will affect how often you should bathe your dog:
Some breeds of dogs have coats that require more heavy-duty cleaning. This includes dogs like Basset Hounds that have a particularly oily coat. Depending on your dog, you might need to bathe them as frequently as once a week.
On the other hand, if your dog has a thick double coat or a water-repellent coat like Golden Retrievers or Great Pyrenees do, it’s essential to avoid overbathing them. These dogs’ coats have natural oils that should be preserved by taking fewer baths.
Similarly, the length of your pup’s hair also affects how often they need to bathe. Short-haired breeds like Beagles and Basenjis need much less maintenance and can get by with fewer showers. Dogs with longer hair will require more frequent bathing and grooming.
How Do I Bathe My Dog?
Bathing your pup can be an easy or difficult task - it all depends on how prepared you are. Many dogs dislike showers, but with the right training and right tools, you can make bathtime painless, and even fun!
Take note that you should only bathe puppies that are at least 8 weeks old! In the case of puppy baths, you’ll have to take things even slower to get them used to water.
1. Get the Right Tools
Before you even start the shower, make sure to find the right dog shampoo and conditioner for your pup.
There are plenty of options on the market, but you should look out for:
- Plant-based products with no chemical additives
- Products that are free from sulfates and parabens
pH-balanced Products like EarthBath’s Oatmeal & Aloe Shampoo are much gentler on your pup’s skin
Products that are suitable for your pup’s skin sensitivities (if any). Natural products like WashBar’s Natural Manuka Soap can be great for pups with itchy or sensitive skin.
- Products that suit your dog’s coat type
If you’re unsure of what type of products to get, you can consult a veterinarian to understand more about different coat types.
Make sure to also prepare for “battle”! You’ll need to prepare tools like treats, towels and hair dryers for this process. Setting everything up before even starting a shower can help you and your pup feel more at ease.
2. Use Lukewarm Water
No one likes a boiling hot bath - and that includes your pup!
In fact, dogs can be very sensitive to heat. So make sure to test the water on your hand before spraying it on your dog. If your pup is still small, around 3-4 months for example, use a warm wash rag to clean your pup lightly. You should also avoid using shampoo and conditioner on puppies until they’re at least 3 months old.
3. Wash with Shampoo
Once your pup is soaked in water, it’s time to work some shampoo into their fur. Make sure to clean everything from their heads and armpits to their bellies and the pads on their feet. Try to dilute your chosen dog shampoo with a bit of water to help it spread better.
During baths, make sure to also be gentle and avoid scrubbing your pup too hard. Instead, use soft streams of water and gentle hand motions to massage shampoo into your pup’s coat.
It’s very important to wash around your pup’s eyes and ears. However, you have to be extra careful not to get water or soap in your pup’s eyes, ears or mouth. Doing so can cause eye irritations or ear infections! If you’re worried about shampoo stinging your pup’s eyes, you can go with tearless shampoos like Burt’s Bees' Tearless 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner.
If you have the time, you should definitely shampoo your dog twice - once to get rid of dirt on your pup’s fur, and the second time to help pull out any remaining dirt and oil. Using a loofah sponge or soft brush can help make this easier.
4. Rinse Thoroughly
After you’re done shampooing your pup, rinse their coat thoroughly to make sure there’s no remaining lather or dirt. Again, try to keep the stream of water gentle so as to keep the experience calm and enjoyable for you and your pup.
5. Use Conditioner
After shampooing your dog, it’s time to add conditioner. Conditioners like smith&burton's Soothing Conditioner are vital for helping your dog keep their fur and skin from drying out. Once you’ve applied the conditioner, leave it in for a few minutes before rinsing it away.
Just like with your shampoo, make sure to properly rinse your pup’s fur after conditioning it.
6. Get Your Pup Dry
Nice! By now, your pup should be smelling much better. Now, all that’s left is to help your dog get dry.
First, towel-dry your pup as much as you can. This helps reduce the amount of air-drying you might have to do. Next, you can start blow drying your pup’s fur with a blow dryer. Put it on the medium or cool setting to avoid spooking your dog.
If you have a brush on hand like Artero's Grooming Paddle Brush, it’s also a great idea to brush your dog as he dries. Once your dog is dry, you can also brush your pup. If they have tangles in their fur, try TropiClean’s PerfectFur Tangle Remover Spray to get rid of stubborn tangles.
For dogs with floppy ears, you can also make use of Kin+Kind’s Organic Clean Ears Dog Cleanser after bathes to keep their ears extra clean and fresh!
7. Reward Your Pup!
Once your pup is clean, dry and smelling extra fresh, it’s time to reward them for a job well done! Bathing can be a scary experience for pups that aren’t used to water, so make sure to shower them with plenty of love post-bathe!
Give them a nice treat so they look forward to their next bath!
Bathing your pup can sound like a chore, but in reality it’s a great way to bond and have fun with your dog! In the end, pet parents like us just want happy, healthy and great-smelling dogs, so a little elbow grease is well worth it!
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.