How to Wash Your Dog

How to Wash Your Dog:

In order to wash your dog, the first step is to prepare your dog’s coat for washing. Brush your dog’s coat gently for at least 5 minutes. This will stimulate the skin and give you time to get rid of mats, loose hair, and debris that might be caught in his coat. Combing out mats is much easier when the fur is dry. In this time also check for fleas, ticks, sores and skin irritations.
Decide where you are going to bathe your dog {a}. Small dogs can be bathed in the sink. Larger breeds will need to go in the bathtub or shower. Place a towel in the bottom of the tub to keep your dog from slipping.
Use only lukewarm water. Wet your dog’s body thoroughly, avoiding his head. Using the attached kitchen or shower hand spryer is helpful. You can also use a plastic cup or container to help wet your dog.
Rub about a quarter size amount {b} of a pH balance dog shampoo {c} between your hands and then on your dog’s wet coat. Starting with the back, massage the coat gently like you would when washing your own hair. Continue over the sides and belly of your dog. Next go down each back leg, tail, front legs, then chest. Sometimes it helps when you apply the shampoo and start working up a lather to apply a little bit more water to their coat. Some dog coats repel water or might be thick and it is hard to get their coat wet enough to get the shampoo down to the skin. Adding a bit extra water after you apply shampoo is helpful for these types of coats. Avoid washing your dog’s head. Dogs can not handle soap and excess water in their nose, eyes or ears. If you think you can not wash your dog without avoiding their face, place a dry cotton balls in each ear, and eye ointment obtained from your veterinarian in each eye.
After shampooing, thoroughly rinse your dog. After you think he is thoroughly rinsed, rub your hands through his coat again seeing if you see any more bubbles and rinse again. It is important to get all of the shampoo out of your dog’s coat, as his skin will become irritated if any is left in.
Grab a few old towels {d}. Let him stand on one and rub him gently with another. If you can get your dog to shake before you towel him down, this is helpful as shaking will help remove excess water from his coat. Be sure that he is in a spot where he will not slip, like still in the tub with a towel under him, or outside if it is not too cold. Use towels to soak up excess water and pat him dry. Gently rub his coat with the towels, changing the towels as needed.
When you have finished towel drying your dog, take out any cotton balls that you put in his ears (if used) and gently wipe his face with a damp wash cloth. Wash his collar separately. Do not try to wash your dog’s collar while it is still on your dog. If the collar is a machine washable collar, throw it in the washer with the towels{d}.
Let your dog finish air drying away from drafts. Small, young and old dogs can chill easily. You can use a blow dryer to finish drying his coat, but make sure it is made for a dog, not a person, as people hair dryers can get too hot.
Brush or comb your dog’s coat again.
{a}To wash a dog outside, you can use a tub that your small dog will fit in. Add some lukewarm water to the tub and wash your dog like you would if your dog was in the sink or bathtub. Rinse your dog thoroughly with clean lukewarm water. For a larger dog, use jugs of lukewarm water. I use rinsed out gallon plastic milk jugs to carry lukewarm water in from the house. Using the water that comes out of the garden hose can be too cold for your dog. Washing your dog outside is convenient for when he shakes, you don’t have to clean the bathroom when you are done! A caution about washing you dog outside would be to make sure it is not a cold or windy day. Dogs can chill easily when wet.
{b}The amount of shampoo required for your dog really depends on your dog’s size and coat length. A small dog might only need as much shampoo as you would use on your own hair but a larger, long haired dog would need much more. Depending on the size of your dog you might need to apply a quarter size amount of pH balanced dog shampoo a couple of times on their back, more on their legs, etc. .. Work up a lather and gently massage your dog’s skin as you work your way around your pet.
{c}Whenever applying dog shampoo, only use pH balanced dog shampoo, never human shampoo or dish soap. A dog’s skin is different from humans, and using anything except pH balanced dog shampoo (or specially medicated shampoo recommended from your veterinarian if your dog has a special skin condition) will mess up the pH balance of your dog’s skin. When the pH balance is not corrects, this allows bacteria and skin problems for your dog.
{d}Towel care: I have a stack of old bath towels that I keep around just for washing my dogs. After giving my dogs a bath, I make a washer machine load consisting of these dog towels, washable collars and any of my dog’s washable bedding. After the load has washed, I then wipe my washing machine out with a damp paper towel to remove any loose dog hair that might have got caught on the side of the machine.
Generally you want to wash your dog about once a month. But how often you wash your dog also depends on his scale of activity. If he just got back from swimming in a lake and he smells like lake water, of course you will want to wash your dog a bit more often. If your dog has a special skin condition and needs to be bathed more often, consult your veterinarian and work out with him how often to bathe your dog.
(content by Pam Carpman for