Aqueos - How to bathe a dog

Aqueos - How to bathe a dog

Whether your dog loves or hates water, bath time needn’t be a stressful experience! 

Read on to learn a vet’s top tips for bathing your dog.

How often should a dog be bathed?

There is no hard and fast rule here, as it will depend on your dog’s coat type, activity levels, health and lifestyle. As a general rule, most dogs need a bath every 3-6 months. In between, you can always use pet-safe wipes or pet-safe deodorising sprays to keep your pup clean and fresh.

Some dogs will need a bath more frequently, for example, dogs:

- with skin conditions

- with very thick coats

- who swim often

- who like to roll in fox poo and other foul-smelling substances!

If you aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to ask your vet team next time you pop into the vet practice.

Preparing to bathe your dog

It’s a good idea to start bathing your dog when they are a puppy, so they become used to it. However, it’s still possible to train an older dog to enjoy bath time too! Before you bathe your dog for the first time, it’s a good idea to get prepared.

  1. Choose where you will bathe your dog

This will depend on your dog’s size and temperament. A sink, bath, shower or outdoor area with buckets of warm water are all fine. Place a non-slip surface for your dog to stand on, so they feel safe. It’s a good idea to make sure your dog can’t bolt during, or immediately after, bath time. So they don’t become worked up or cover your house in soapy water! 

  1. Choosing the right shampoo

Human shampoos are not suitable for dogs, as the pH of their skin is different from ours. Choose a mild dog-safe shampoo. It’s a good idea to patch test any new shampoo, to be sure your dog won’t react to it. Watch for redness, itching or scaling. If your dog has any skin or medical conditions, ask your vet for advice on the best shampoo for them.

  1. Have all your equipment ready

You will need a brush, warm water, a pet-safe shampoo, a non-slip surface and some good quality absorbent towels. An extra pair of hands is always helpful. Of course, don’t forget the most important thing of all… the treats!

  1. Prepare your dog

It’s a good idea to spend some time getting your dog used to the idea of a bath, before jumping in. Spend some time placing them in the bathing area and giving them treats. Next, get them used to the noise of the shower or bathwater. Start to spray or wet a small area of their fur. Let them smell the shampoo. Rub the towel over their dry fur. Use praise and treats throughout, to make sure it’s a positive experience. If your dog seems anxious or gets distressed at any point, stop and try again another day. This process may take weeks, so be patient and remember to stay calm! If you are stressed, your dog will be too.

Once you’ve been through all the preparation steps, you are ready to bathe your dog!

Remember not to bathe your dog after applying a flea treatment or other spot-on, please read the manufacturer’s guidelines on how long to wait. It’s sensible to take your dog for a walk before bath time, so they are nice and calm. Give them a bit of time to rest after the walk, then proceed.

How to bathe your dog: step-by-step

  1. Brush your dog. This will remove excess fur and ensure there aren’t any tangles or mats. 
  1. Place your dog in the sink/bath/outdoor area, ready for their bath. 
  1. Wet your dog. Always check the temperature of the water first, it should be lukewarm. Thoroughly wet their coat, avoiding their face and eyes. You can use a cloth soaked in warm water, pet-safe wipes or a pet-safe, no-rinse facewash for their head area. Always avoid getting any water or products in their eyes or ears. 
  1. Shampoo. Gently massage the shampoo into your dog’s coat, again avoiding the face and eyes. Many shampoos, especially medicated ones, need to be left on for a few minutes in order to work. So make sure you read and follow the instructions. Try using treats or a favourite toy as a distraction while you wait. 
  1. Rinse. Thoroughly rinse all of the shampoo from your dog’s coat, again checking the water temperature first. Be sure not to leave any shampoo in, as this may irritate your dog’s skin. 
  1. Dry your dog. Your dog will have a good shake once you stop, so be prepared with towels and make sure you protect any furniture (and yourself!) from getting wet. Slim or small dogs can get cold very quickly, so be sure to dry your dog well. It’s safest to use a good quality, absorbent towel to dry your dog, then offer them somewhere warm to rest. 
  1. Lots of praise and a treat at the end, as well as throughout!

Now you’re ready to bathe your dog! You shouldn’t try to bathe your dog at home if there is any risk that your dog may become distressed or might snap. Leave it to the professionals instead, and book an appointment with a dog groomer. If your dog has a skin condition, it’s important that you talk to your vet before bathing your dog. They will be able to advise you on which shampoo to use and how often you should bathe your pet.