Most dog owners understand that their pets need regular baths, but they may wonder how to bathe a dog safely. Of course, there are professional groomers that can take care of bathing needs for dogs. However, arranging a grooming appointment can be expensive, time-consuming, and even stressful for a dog, depending on its nature. In addition, sometimes dogs get into big messes that require immediate attention, so it’s important for their owners to know ahead of time how to bathe them safely.
So, how do you bathe a dog safely? Though each individual dog will have its own preferences when it comes to bathing, it’s important to consider your dog’s physical safety and overall well-being during the process. To bathe a dog safely, you must:
- Create a bath time routine for your dog
- Bathe only as often as is necessary
- Select a bath location that is secure and safe
Some dogs love to be bathed, but a majority of them don’t enjoy the process. Therefore, it’s important to consider not only the dog’s physical safety during a bath but its emotional well-being and level of stress as well. This will make the experience a positive one for both you and your pet. In this article, we will go over everything you need to know to make bathtime a safe and comfortable experience for your dog.
Create a Routine
Dogs tend to thrive when they have an established routine. This applies on a daily basis so that they can expect when they will be fed, get potty breaks, enjoy playtime, and go to sleep. Of course, dogs don’t expect the regularity of an up-to-the-minute schedule, but a routine is comforting to them as a way of having some predictability in their lives.
Routines can apply to bathing and grooming your dog as well in order to teach them the process and help them understand what to expect. This can greatly enhance their safety during bath time by reducing their stress levels to some degree. Regular patterns of bathing and grooming not only help you meet your dog’s hygiene needs, but such routines will have similar effects to training. Your dog will learn to expect what the process is like, what he is expected to do, and roughly how long it will take.
There are many ways to set up bathing and grooming routines. For example, bathing your dog in the same place each time and going through the steps in the same order will help your dog understand what to expect. Such a routine will also benefit you as a pet owner as you learn the most effective methods to thoroughly and efficiently bathe your pup.
How Often to Bathe?
Dogs don’t require the level of bathing that humans do. Most breeds do need regular baths, but bathing a dog more often than is actually necessary can cause external harm to its coat and/or skin.
This happens when frequent, unnecessary bathing strips the dog’s coat of its natural oils, which can make it dry and more susceptible to dandruff, frizz, and matting. In addition, some shampoos can dry or irritate a dog’s skin. In this case, the pet owner should either bathe the dog less often or switch shampoos.
As a rule, bathing once a month will be sufficient for most dogs. However, depending on your dog’s coat type, more or less bathing may be advisable:
- Oily coats: dogs that have oily coats, such as Basset Hounds, may need to be bathed frequently, up to 4 times a month
- Smooth coats: short-haired dog breeds with smooth coats, such as beagles, require less frequent baths
- Water-repellent coats: breeds that have water-repellent coats, such as golden retrievers, should be bathed less often as a means of preserving their natural oils
- Thick coats: dogs that have thick, double coats, such as malamutes and other Northern breeds, are better off with fewer baths. However, they benefit from extra brushing in order to remove loose, dead hair and help distribute their natural oils to keep their skin and coat healthy.
By the way, our Max has a water-repellent coat and this product works like a dream, I would highly recommend it.
Your dog’s environment is another factor to consider when determining how often bathing should take place. Dogs that live in the country often roll in unpleasant things, swim in ponds, or run through mud puddles, causing them to require more frequent bathing. Dogs in urban areas that spend most of their time indoors are probably less likely to need baths as often.
Overall, like humans, you can gauge if your dog needs a bath by their smell or how they look.
Where to Bathe?
To keep your dog physically safe and secure, it’s best to bathe him in some type of tub. For small dogs, pet owners can bathe them in a sink or laundry tub. If your dog happens to be too big for these areas, you can use a bathtub or shower if it has a detachable nozzle.
A portable tub for dogs is another good option. These are often made of heavy plastic, but some are collapsible and can be set up outside, in a laundry room, or in a mudroom. Portable tubs can be purchased or even rented from some pet supply stores.
Some pet owners feel that hosing their dog off with an outside garden hose is a good means of giving a dog bath. This may work if the dog is too filthy to be put in a tub or if the weather is very warm. However, water from the hose can be very cold, even on a warm day, and most dogs dislike being sprayed from the hose directly.
If you’re looking for a bathtub for your doggy, check out this one from amazon.
How to Bathe Your Dog Safely
One of the best ways to ensure that you safely bathe your dog is to be prepared. Whether it’s the first bath, you are giving or one of many, gathering everything you need ahead of time and knowing the process will alleviate any potential mishaps or stress for both you and your pup.
Here are some steps to safely and efficiently bathe your dog:
- Brush before bath: If your dog’s hair or fur is matted, it will hold water and leave the skin irritated. If the matted hair can’t be brushed or cut out, then a professional groomer may be necessary.
- Ear protection: Dogs can get ear infections or experience irritation in their ears due to bathing. Placing a cotton ball in each ear can keep the water out and add protection.
- Lukewarm water: Since a dog’s skin is different from a human’s, and it’s important to know that hot water can burn them easily. A dog’s bath water should be comparable to that for a baby, or even cooler than lukewarm for larger breed dogs that may easily overheat.
- Reassure your dog: Talk to your dog in a calm and reassuring voice while bathing. This will let your dog know that you are happy with her and hopefully reduce her stress level.
- Use shampoo for dogs: Dog shampoo will dry your dog’s skin less than shampoo designed for people. When using dog shampoo, it’s best to work it into a gentle lather and massage it over your dog’s body. It’s essential to prevent soap from getting in their eyes.
- Rinse well: It’s important to make sure that all the soap is rinsed from your dog’s fur, so anything left doesn’t irritate the skin once it’s dry.
- Air dry: A human blow dryer is too hot for a dog’s skin. Therefore, it’s best to let your dog air dry, dry him off with a towel, or use a specific blow dryer designed for dogs with a lower temperature to avoid itching or dandruff.
- Reward: After bath time, you should praise your pup and reward her with petting or play time. Even a dog treat or chewie can be a nice reward for going through the bathing process.
How to Safely Bathe a Puppy
Puppies can provide a bit more of a challenge when it comes to bathing. Though they are cute, puppies tend to be squirmy, impatient, and difficult to keep still. However, most experts agree that puppies can start learning the bathing and grooming process beginning at eight weeks old. Keeping up with a regular bathing routine from such a young age will set up an understanding of the process and a mindset that bathing and grooming are just normal aspects of a dog’s life.
The steps for bathing a puppy are similar to those for bathing a dog of any age, with a few modifications:
- Determine your puppy’s coat type: your puppy’s fur and coat type should be determined so that you know which shampoo products to use. Consult your vet before bathing your dog for advice about which products will be best for your puppy.
- Allow them some freedom: it’s important to allow your puppy to explore and take any bathing or grooming steps slowly. Puppies are easily distracted, and as a pet owner, it’s essential to have patience so that your puppy associates bath time as a loving experience rather than one that feels reprimanding. Make them feel safe with a loving tone, praise, and lots of affection.
- Allow yourself some freedom: remember that bathing a puppy can be difficult, and it doesn’t have to work out perfectly the first few times. Just introducing the process to your puppy, making him feel safe and loved, and learning the techniques yourself should be considered progress.
- Begin with a rag: when a dog is very young, cleansing products are not needed. The best way to bathe a puppy under four months old is to use a warm washrag. However, lukewarm water is best since, like older dogs, puppies are sensitive to temperature.
This tear-free aloe vera shampoo designed for puppies.
How to Safely Bathe a Senior Dog
Most dogs are considered to be “senior” when they are over seven years old. Senior dogs often require special care in order to keep them safe and healthy, and bath time is no exception. Bathing a senior dog can be challenging, especially if it has certain health issues. Therefore, like with puppies, pet owners need to ensure that added care and planning is taken into consideration. This way, you can ensure that bath time is safe and as pleasant as possible for both you and your dog.
Senior dogs with certain health issues such as arthritis or visual impairment will need extra attention during bathing. Therefore, it’s advisable to choose a time of day when your dog is most active and allow yourself a longer period of time to give a bath so that you don’t feel rushed or stressed during the process.
In addition, senior dogs develop special coats and skin with age. Their skin begins to dry out more often, and coats will turn coarser, so it’s important to use shampoo and conditioner that is designed for sensitive, dry skin and coarse fur. Even better would be to purchase products that are specifically made for senior dogs and the exact breed that you have.
Here are some techniques and suggestions to add to your senior dog’s bathing process:
- Have towels ready: senior dogs feel cold air much more intensely than younger dogs, so having towels ready to wrap them up immediately as they get out of the water is beneficial.
- Let your dog hear: visually impaired dogs should be in the bathroom with you while the tub is filling so they can hear what is about to take place. Never just dunk your senior dog in the bath, especially those with visual impairments, as this can cause fear and anxiety.
- Be gentle and cautious: Be sure to use great care when lifting a senior dog into or out of a tub. Giving her praise and loving attention will ease any anxiety.
- Massage: while lathering your senior dog, you can gently massage their skin and coat. For dogs with arthritis problems, this can help how they feel and relax them. Keep using a calm and soothing voice as well. A washcloth can be used to wash face and neck areas. When you’ve rinsed your dog thoroughly, you can massage their sore areas again if needed.
- After bath care: once you have gently dried your senior dog, you can brush her fur out gently and offer a treat or special toy. Senior dogs need adequate rest, particularly after heavy activity, so make sure that your dog has a warm, quiet, and cozy space to lie down and sleep for as long as she likes.
Sometimes dog owners would prefer to leave bathing their dog to professional groomers. There are many advantages to this decision as long as it’s a reputable business with experienced and caring workers.
Professional groomers are capable of bathing your dog, as well as clipping nails, providing conditioning treatments, expressing anal glands, trimming near the eyes, and more services. Certain breeds, such as poodles, yorkies, springers, and others with hair that grows require professional dog grooming. This is due to the fact that hair, unlike fur that sheds, keeps growing until it is cut.
Taking your dog to a professional groomer may be more convenient for your schedule. Pet owners often have time to do errands or other things while their dog is being groomed. In addition, grooming businesses have all the materials and equipment at the ready, and they do the clean up as well.
Another advantage to professional grooming when it comes to your dog being bathed safely is that these employees are trained, skilled, and practiced in bathing and grooming reluctant dogs. Professional groomers often have various techniques for encouraging dogs to behave during a bath, which is frequently difficult for a dog’s owner to accomplish. Turning the task over to the professionals may be the best way to avoid a stressful bath time experience for you and your pup.
As with any care that you provide your canine, safe bathing and grooming is an essential part of being a pet owner. Most people associate their veterinarians with medical care for their animals. However, your dog’s individual vet can be a great resource for advice about bathing as well. Your veterinarian can recommend products, procedures, and techniques to ensure the safe bathing and grooming of your dog, which can reduce your stress level as a pet owner.
There are many online articles and even tutorials that offer advice and demonstrations as to how to safely bathe your dog. However, dogs vary widely when it comes to their age and breed requirements, personality, hygiene needs, and what is best for them as individuals. For these reasons, your dog’s veterinarian is a far better resource for consultation and expertise. The only person who potentially knows your dog as well as you do would be its vet.
By consulting your personal veterinarian, you can be certain that you are providing the best care for your pet, especially when it comes to their hygiene and safety.