Do you ever wish there was a way to make dog baths a little easier and faster? I bet you do.
We can all agree that dogs🐶 are a joy to care for and love, but we can't deny they tend to build up a certain funk.
Whether they're on the go, rolling in whatever 💩 they can find outside, or just building up dirt and oils through lazy living, they need baths 🛁 to stay healthy.
Bath time is pretty much always going to be a challenge, no matter how your dog handles it. It's only the rare pupper that sits happily in the bath, no objections, and makes it an easy and stress-free time for all.
What about post bath time? An additional consideration is what sometimes happens after bath time.
Your pup may have gone through the whole bath session smoothly but then, to warm himself up runs around the house shaking off all the excess water while wetting everything in his path and leaving puddles all over.
Or worse, if you're bathing outside and your pup runs around the yard and gets dirty. After all that time spent bathing, you may end up going around the house wiping everything up or having to give your pup a new bath.
To help make everything that involves bathing your dog easier and less time consuming, I’ve put together my top ten tips.
As always, for pet parents 🤓 looking for more dog care guides, never ever ever miss the further reading section at the bottom. My blog is simply packed 📚 with useful resources.
If you work in a bit of muscle massage while you're rubbing in the shampoo, you might even be able to turn your doggy baths into a spa session your furry friend will come to enjoy or even look forward to.
2: Gather Everything Ahead of Time
Forgetting needed supplies is a common reason baths can take longer than expected.
The start-stop is also harder for a pup that isn’t a fan of bathing. Being prepared can help alleviate the added time and stress.
Whether you have a designated pet bath, a tub you take outside when it's time, or just a cubby for pet supplies in the bathroom, it's always a good idea to gather everything you might need for a bath before you even turn the water on.
That way, you'll never wet down your dog only to find you're out of shampoo or you forgot the brush.
What should you gather?
Soaps and shampoos. Whether you're going all-organic, or you have a prescription shampoo to handle dry skin or skin parasites, make sure you have it on hand and have enough of it. Just make sure you never use human shampoo.
Eye ointment. Sometimes, a simple eye ointment can help keep soap out of your pet's eyes, and moisturizes the skin around them. It's not necessary for every dog but helpful for many. Ask your vet for a recommendation.
Brushes should be gentle on the skin, but effective at removing matts, dirt, and debris.
4: Lay Down a Non-Slip Surface
This is a non-issue if you wash your pup on a grassy surface, but if you’re on a tiled patio or using a shower or bathtub traction is a must.
Many dogs struggle with bath time simply because they can’t stand without slipping.
There are a few solutions to adding more traction to slippery surfaces. Some bathtubs already have a non-slip texture and will be perfectly fine.
If yours doesn’t, you can get a silicone or other kind of rubbery mat to go in the bottom of the tub to minimize the chances of slipping around.
Some people aren’t a fan of these mats because they can grow mildew over time, so an alternative you can look for is textured tub stickers. They are easy to apply and don’t trap water underneath like the suction mats.
The easiest option – which will work in or outside of the tub is a towel. A damp towel will stick to the bottom of the tub and be perfectly non-slip.
If you fill the tub, make sure the towel doesn't start to float around. It's also a good idea to have a something down for post bath drying.
Having non-slip surfaces is especially important for older dogs and those that are prone to hip dysplasia. Slipping during bath time can cause serious injuries but doing a little prep work can make things safer.
Having a firm foundation will also make bathing easier as your pup won’t be slipping around while you’re trying to lather up their now slippery body.
5: Clean the Face Right
Your dog's eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are all pretty sensitive and may get irritated if shampoo gets in them. Even just water can be irritating in the ears.
Getting shampoo in their eyes can cause burning and a pup that is no longer interested in participating in bath time making the whole process much more difficult.
During bath time you’ll want to protect your fur baby's face from water, shampoo, and other bath chemicals.
Focus on their body when you're washing them and do their face separately with a damp wash cloth.
There are some doggy safe wipes that use softer soaps and won't cause problems if you clean the ears, around the eyes, and other parts of the face with them.
6: Don't Block the Drain
One of the most frustrating parts of giving a dog a bath, especially if they have longer fur, double coats, or are actively shedding their winter coat, is all that shed fur.
It builds up in the tub and around the drain and can block it, either on the surface or in the pipes.
No one wants to spend the extra time having to snake your drain out after a bath, so it’s a good idea to take steps to prevent this from happening.
We mentioned pre-bath brushing earlier, that’s step one.
If bathing in a tub, the go-to item amongst pet parents is a small wad of steel wool. Other bristly pads can work as well.
You want something thick enough to filter the water and catch fur but not so thick that it clogs up just like your drain would. If it's too thin, though, fur can still get through.
At the end of the bath simply pull out the wad of wool and the fur will come with it sparing your pipes from a potentially costly plug.
7: Work Head to Toe
With people, we start with shampooing heads and work our way down simply because that's how gravity pulls water and soap down.
With dogs, so much closer to the ground and more horizontally laid out, it doesn't work quite the same way. But, you still want to work head to toe (or tail).
Why? A few reasons.
It helps you keep your hose/sprayer pointed away from their face. When you hold the sprayer around their neck and point towards their tail, you never risk spraying them in the face or in the ears. Alternatively, using a cup to pour water is a more controlled way of washing off shampoo.
Dog fur lays in that direction. By working with the grain rather than against it, you cause less irritation and reduce the likelihood of matting their coat.
It's systemic, which means you won't have to re-lather and re-rinse parts of your fur baby while you're working. A squirmy dog may leave you wondering which areas you washed. Following the same method each bath will help you easily identify where you left off if your pup manages a great escape.
Develop a system and keep it going for the best effect.
Some dogs get anxious around bath time, or really any time they must have their bodies handled in a way they don't care for.
Water, the noise of a bathroom fan or the pressure of a shower, or even the scent of shampoo; there are any number of triggers that might set off an anxious pup.
Obviously, you can't ignore the anxiety, it's stressful, and you feel bad about it, even if it's necessary for your poor pup's health.
You can hand them off to a groomer every time a bath is necessary, but that gets expensive, and you can never be 100% sure your pup is being cared for unless you can supervise every bath, and that's not always possible.
Think about when you’re taking a shower, you’re probably not interested in stepping into ice cold water, and you can scald yourself if the water is too hot.
It’s important to take the same considerations when bathing your pup.
You're looking for the water temperature to be "lukewarm," not too hot and not too cold.
Pro Tip: “Whether it’s a hose or shower head, make sure water pressure is low and the water is lukewarm.” - Jennifer Freeman, D.V.M.
Too cold, and you'll chill your fur baby. Remember, a dog's body temperature is around 101-102.5 degrees, hotter than ours, so what feels like body temperature to us is cool to them.
You might be inclined to make the water on the warmer side. But be careful, too hot, and you can overheat your poor pup.
They won't be able to cool off if you keep applying more hot water, and while we find it pleasant, they won't. To avoid thermal regulation issues, stick to lukewarm water.
If you’re outside using a hose, check the temperature of the water before hosing down your dog.
If the water is hot from the hose being in the sun, postpone bath time. If the water is super cold, consider filling a bucket and leaving it in the sun to warm up a bit and use that to wash out the shampoo.
10: Dry Immediately and Thoroughly
If there's one thing nobody enjoys, it's a wet dog.
Your dog doesn't enjoy being soaked through (and there's a difference between a dog that took a dip in the pond and a dog thoroughly soaked to the skin by a bath), and the evaporative cooling can chill them out to a dangerous level.
You, of course, won't enjoy the wet dog smell, the damp dog-shaped spots on the carpet and furniture, or the drips that get everywhere.
So, make sure you dry your pup as thoroughly as possible, as soon as possible after the bath.
You may have to go through several towels, especially for larger dogs or dogs with thicker coats.
You may even consider a blow dryer to make sure you can get all the way through their fur coat without letting the undercoat stay damp.
Pro Tip: If you go the hairdryer route, use the cool setting that blows room temp air.
What do you think? Did we cover all the bases? If you have a go-to pro tip for giving a dog a bath, feel free to leave it in the comments below. We're experts, but we're not all-knowing, and there are dogs with many different quirks and habits that we can't cover in a single article. Be sure to let us know all your thoughts and stories!
Additionally, if you are feeling like getting a little something for your fur baby that is unique, made right here in the USA (or anywhere but in China), 100% dog and cat safe and, USDA certified organic, check out Toe Beans online pet supplies store!
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K Marie Alto
K. Marie is an animal lover, wife, kitty mom, dog auntie, writer, and co-founder of Toe Beans, a proud American family-owned online boutique pet supplies store focused on the improvement of the life of furry family members via pet parent education, better products, and advocacy. She has over 20 years of experience as a pet momma. She loves sharing her personal journey and experience as a pet parent via her blog and Facebook page where she currently has more than 50K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-). Read more