10 Tips for the Perfect Dog Bath
Whatever your reason for bathing your dog, it can be a beautiful experience…
...or it can be absolute bubble trouble that you both DREAD.
But it can be the first one as long as you do a little research and follow the appropriate steps recommended by vets and groomers. Here are 10 tried-and-true tips to make your dog’s next bath a shining success:
1. Know how often your breed needs to be bathed, and then start them early so they’ll love a good warm bath as much as you. Make it a happy place and coax with treats if it helps for positive reinforcement. The first time my English Bulldog Bingley and I ever saw each other, he was being rinsed off by a groomer and was as happy as could be. Ever since then, he has always eagerly walked himself into our bathtub or wherever a bath was happening, usually at least once every couple months depending on the time of year. Which brings us to the next tip. . . .
2. Nothing beats a host and a blue plastic outdoor wading pool! When it’s warm outside, I like to catch our dog in the perfect condition for a no-muss, no-fuss scrub session. I fill the round makeshift tub in our backyard with a few inches of water, then he steps easily into the bath and usually lays down in the water at first. The outdoor kiddie pool also means less cleanup than your own tub, which usually has to be wiped down to remove excess fur. If you have a hypoallergenic dog breed, that’s a nice bathtime advantage . . . but you still have to clean the tub before putting your body in the same one your dog just used.
3. A kitchen sink works great for smaller breeds as well. Indoor or outdoor, let your dog quench his or her thirst before doing anything. They will be less likely to drink soapy and dirty water later in the process. Use room temperature water if it’s indoors, and just know that the water temperature will be colder outdoors. Some pets often throw up colder water, so go with what you know. Our city water is lousy so we have a water filter on our kitchen sink faucet, and I fill up his bowls with filtered water. But in this case, he has fun lapping up clean water before the soaping starts, so I let him have at the city version.
4. Be sure your shampoo is right there where you need it before jumping into the action. We recommend Ready Pet Go! Oatmeal Shampoo, a lifetime product that is tear-free and sulfate-free -- just as appropriate for puppies as it is for senior dogs. The formula’s all-natural ingredients include Oatmeal Extract, which helps eliminate conditions like dry skin, inflammation and allergies. Glycerin is a byproduct of coconut oil, and that attracts moisture to your dog’s skin so it keeps it locked in. Lavender Oil is included so you get that fresh-back-from-the-groomer smell. The Oatmeal Shampoo moisturizes and nourishes dry, itchy skin and fur, and you only want the best product for your dog’s bath. Some people use a conditioner as well. It isn’t necessary, but it does help add moisture back to the coat after the shampooing process.
5. Use a rubber pronged scrub sponge. You can get the kind with the rubber strap that goes around your hand, for better dexterity and scrub management given the slippery and awkward posture positions. I like to wash Bingley with my bare hands, but his thick fur at the scruff of his neck requires a little more force. As with shampoo, you want to have this scrubber handy in advance so you aren’t chasing your dog while reaching for the equipment.
6. You’re ready! Pour a line of shampoo down the back of your dog’s coat. Wet the coat, massaging shampoo across the body, moving down all the way to the armpits, belly and paws. Work up a good lather as you go, and make the massaging element really count. It’s like their spa day, so work it in with both hands and rub those tired muscles. Ahhh! Allow the shampoo to be fully massaged into areas of red or itchy skin. Once fully shampooed, rinse with water, and repeat the process if they’re up for it. The first time is a binding of shampoo and dirt, and the second time you pull out any remaining oil and dirt in the hair as you clean the skin.
7. Make the rinsing part fun. First of all, save your dog’s head for last because we’ll go over that matter in a second. Secondly, don’t stop rinsing until you are sure that all of the shampoo is gone. Excess shampoo on the skin after your dog dries can lead to skin irritation and itching, and that defeats the whole purpose of the bath. So now you’ve rinsed off the body and you know what’s coming: the world’s most vigorous body shake. Whenever I have bathed Bingley in our bathtub, there has usually been a shower curtain that I can put inside the tub and use it to my advantage. Step away from tub, close curtain, and let ‘er rip: shake, shake, shake. Then open the curtain and get back to business, because it’s time to wash that beautiful face.
8. The best way to make a dog not like bathtime is to just dump a bucket of water over their head or to irritate sensitive areas. Easy does it. Dip a clean washcloth into the soapy water and lightly wash your pup’s head and face. The trick is to avoid getting soap into their eyes and nose. As for the ears, some dogs -- especially those with floppy ears like Bingley’s, making it hard to dry -- are more sensitive to ear infections and it might make sense to insert a big cotton ball in the ear as you wash the head. Take another clean washcloth and dip it in warm water and wipe away any soapy residue.
9. Towel dry your dog. Put one towel on the floor, and have your dog exit the bath and stand on that towel as you swaddle its head and body in another large towel. Work it in vigorously, another chance to massage their muscles. Flip the towel over as you go, using all dry parts. Dry everywhere. Take special care to ensure that their ears are dry, maybe even use a cotton ball. At this point, the dog is jonesing for the door, so you are prolonging the inevitable. Dog show contestants are going to get the full blow-dry treatment on a table, maybe even some hair spray to glisten, but you just want to dry them as much as you can and then see ya.
10. Tell your dog what an amazing performance that was! It’s time for a treat! You’re proud of them, and they are even prouder of themselves now. A clean dog is a proud dog, and maybe one you are more likely to want to allow up on your bed at night.
Again, start by asking your vet or groomer how often they recommend you bathe your dog. You can at least use that as a guidepost and then see what works best as each individual dog is unique. The bottom line is ensuring healthy skin and a shiny coat. Add a Ready Pet Go Omega Health Chew to your daily regimen, for a treat that also helps make both of those happen.