When it comes to keeping your dog comfortable, healthy and clean, regular bathing definitely is wise. However, as with anything in life, moderation is key. In the case of doggies, too much cleanliness actually sometimes can be a bad thing, so remember that before you break out the shampoo bottle.
Towels: enough to both dry the dog and protect the ground from splashing water
- Dog shampoo: shampoo formulated for humans will dry out a dog’s skin, so buy dog shampoo at the pet store, vet, or online. If your dog has any skin conditions, consult your vet for recommendations.
- Comb or brush
- Small cup or bucket (for pouring water)
How to wash your dog
Once you’re prepared to take on the task (with or without your dog’s cooperation), here’s what to do:
- Brush your dog before a bath. Matted hair holds water, leaving your dog with irritated skin. (If you can’t brush or cut the mats out yourself, take your dog to a professional groomer.) Put a cotton ball in each ear to keep water out; it helps prevent ear infections and irritation.
- Use lukewarm water. Dog skin is different from ours, and hot water can burn dogs more easily. Bath water should never be hotter than what you’d run for a human baby. Keep it even cooler for large-breed dogs, who can easily overheat.
- Talk to your pet in a calm and reassuring voice. Some dogs will eventually learn that you’re not torturing them, although others will continue to hide under the kitchen table whenever you get out a towel.
- Use dog shampoo. It’s less drying to their skin than people shampoo. Work the shampoo into a gentle lather and massage it all over your dog’s body, being careful not to get soap in her eyes.
- Rinse well. Any soap left in her fur can irritate your dog’s skin once she’s dry. Rinse, rinse, and repeat the rinse.
- Air-dry. Hot air from a human blow-dryer is too hot for their skin. Either air-dry or use a blow-dryer designed for dogs; its lower temperatures won’t cause itching or dandruff.
- Reward your dog. Follow up with abundant praise, petting, or play. Many a damp dog loves to vent her frustration over bath time by playing exuberant tug-of-war with the bath towel — or just running away with it–when it’s all over.