Dog Bathing Basics

Routine grooming keeps your dog’s coat healthy and provides the ideal opportunity to assess the overall health of your pet. One essential part of a dog’s grooming regimen is

bathing. Regular bathing helps eliminate pesky skin parasites and odor-causing bacteria. As such, it is perhaps the most important step in your dog’s grooming routine. The following steps explain the basics of bathing. Please note that certain dog breeds may require additional steps.

Step 1: Gather supplies

Before you begin bathing your dog, make sure to gather all the supplies you will need. For a basic wash, you will need the following items:
• Dog brush
• Cotton balls for the ears
• pH-balanced shampoo (and conditioner if necessary)
• washcloth for the face
• empty container for rinsing
• towels for drying
• blow-dryer (optional for short-haired dogs)

Step 2: Pre-bath preparation

To start, place your dog in a tub that’s an appropriate size for its breed. Use a sink only for small or toy-sized dogs. Be sure the drain cover is in place to catch the excess hair. You can also place a piece of steel wool over the drain for good measure. If your dog is too large to wash in the bathtub, you can bathe the dog outside using a hose. However, make sure the water isn’t too cold.

If possible, place a rubber bath mat on the bottom of the tub or sink to ensure ample footing. If your dog doesn’t like staying in the tub, you may want to use a collar or bathing noose that attaches to the tub to keep him in place.

Once your dog is in the tub (or outside), you should thoroughly brush its coat. Remove any tangles, mats, or unwanted hair that may be present. Excessive tangles and mats can be quite painful so brushing your dog’s coat prior to bathing is a must, especially for long-haired breeds.

Next, place sterile cotton balls inside your dog’s ears to keep water out while bathing.

Step 3: Bathing

Begin by wetting down your dog’s coat with lukewarm water. This can be done by using an empty container like a milk jug or a bathtub sprayer attachment. Be sure the water is neither too hot nor too cold. Humans may enjoy a hot shower, but dogs require tepid water that is comfortable to the touch. For sensitive areas like the face, use a damp washcloth to gently wet the coat.

Next, apply enough pH-balanced shampoo to lather your dog’s coat. Hold your dog firmly in place so it does not slip in the tub or attempt to escape. Be sure to thoroughly rub the shampoo into the coat to loosen the dirt and dead skin. To get a good lather, massage the skin against the grain of the hair. You may need to add more water.

For sensitive areas like the eyes and face, use a washcloth soaked in soapy water to gently wipe down the face. You may also consider using a tearless shampoo to protect the eyes.

Step 4: Rinsing

Begin by rinsing the shampoo from your dog’s head and face. This can be done with an empty container or a wet washcloth. Be sure to towel-dry the area to prevent your dog from shaking water everywhere.

Next, rinse the rest of the body by sliding your fingers along your dog’s skin as you pour water over its coat. Dried soap attracts dirt and causes mats so it is important to get all the soap out. Be sure not to overlook sensitive areas such as the as the groin, toes, and armpits. These regions must be thoroughly rinsed because shampoo residue that dries in contact with the skin can cause skin irritations. If your dog’s coat was especially dirty, a second shampoo and rinse may be needed.

After shampooing and rinsing, you may rub a pH-balanced conditioner into the coat. Using a conditioner that prevents tangles and moisturizes the skin is recommended for most dogs. Take care to completely rinse the conditioner from your dog’s coat because like soap residue, conditioner residue attracts dirt.

Step 5: Drying

Use a large towel to squeeze excess water from the coat. Towel-dry the coat by rubbing the hair briskly, starting from the head and working your way back. Begin with a rubbing motion that is with the grain of the hair, then rub against the grain. Avoid using circular motions, as this could cause tangles and mats.

For short-haired dogs, towel-drying alone may suffice. However, long-haired dogs and dogs with a heavy undercoat may require a blow dry. To blow-dry your dog’s coat you will need a brush and a blow-dryer. Move the dog out of the tub if you haven’t done so already. Place the dryer setting on low or warm and direct the heat at one section of the coat. Brush the hair straight, away from the body as you dry. When the coat is completely dry, brush your dog one final time.

Our bathing services

Julie’s Pet Grooming offers a complete line of fine grooming services to bring out the best of appearance and personality in any breed. All of our grooming packages include a full bath, dry, and brush. We are currently offering three grooming packages: basic service, face-feet-fanny, and full service. Call us today for more information and pricing details!

Additional Resources
For more information about dog grooming and other related subjects please visit the following websites:
ASPCA
American Kennel Club
WebMD-Pets
Cesar Milan

References
ASPCA Complete Dog Care Manual, Dr. Bruce Fogle
Guide to Home Pet Grooming, Chris C. Piney, D.V.M.
New Dog, Dr. Bruce Fogle
Dog Grooming For Dummies, Margaret H. Bonham

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