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How To Give Your Dog A Bath and Survive

Updated on May 30, 2011

Or How to Bath Fido without Drowning

For most folks, washing the dog is as simple are luring your dog into the car and driving him to the local groomer. But for pet owners on a budget or who own multiple dogs, professional grooming can be cost prohibitive. As the owner of four, including a arthritic senior who experienced two knee surgeries, bathing at home, while traumatic, is less so than the car trip.

However, a little preparing can go a long way toward making the experience a positive one for you and your pet.

Start out by deciding where the bathing will take place. Think out whether you can get warm water; if the pet can easily be placed or step into the tub; and if the dog enjoys wading in water or acts more cat-like when a bath is in his future. While our smallest and oldest dogs are bathed in the house, weather permitting, their two sisters revel in a bath in the yard, running in circles to dry off.;

Before you run the water, gather your bathing items. A bath caddy can be used to corral dog shampoos, combs, brushes, nail clippers, and conditioner. Additional items can include washing brushes, wash cloths, baby wipes or cotton balls, tear remover and ear cleaner. Have everything within reach before you start your bath so you don't have to reach around when trying to restrain a soggy sheperd. If you are working in an area that has a floor covering that becomes slippery when wet, place heavy towels on the floor. A slipless shower mat might also be placed in a bathtub for an unsteady or older dog.
Now do the prep work. Clean eyes with a damp cloth or tear-stain remover; clean ears with warm water, a baby wipe or cotton ball with ear cleaner, warm water; or a combination of one parts mouth wash mixed with five parts warm water.

Brush your dog thoroughly before getting him wet. It will remove loose hair and loosen dead skin and dirt. Without a good combing, knots will matt when wet and become harder to remove. Experiment with various different combs and brushes. A shedding comb make work well for dogs with thick or curly hair, while a pin brush or stripping comb may do better with fine furr. Remove your dog's collar and brush under it. Rubbing collars can create matts. Now is a good time to make sure the collar remains well-fitting. You should be able to slip two fingers between the dog's neck and collar. This makes it loose enough to provide breathing room, while not to loose as to be slipped out of.

One you are confident that the furr is tangle-free, apply water. For our small dog, we place her in a sink. Our two large dogs step into a children's plastic wading pool in the yard. Our oldest, stiff senior walks into a walk in shower. Wet the dog thoroughly. But be careful to keep water and soap out of the dog's eyes, mouth and ears. Apply a dog-specific shampoo and work up a strong lather. For dogs that are usually inside and are bathed regularly, one lathering is usually enough. More might be required for muddy, skunky or smelly dogs. Don't forget areas under the belly and tail.

Rinse the dog thoroughly. Make sure that all soap is removed or ichy skin can result. When yoiu think all the soap is gone, rinse some more. Take a moment and if possible use concentrated warm water to massage achy joints in older dogs. A rubber scrubber can also create a positive massage, increasing your dog's enjoyment of the bath.

Once you are truly confident the soap is gone, conditioner can be applied and rinsing repeated. Then cut off the water. While your dog is still in the tub, cover him with towels. Most dogs will shake immediately. Covering them with a towel or two will keep most off the water off you and your walls.

Once your dog is no longer dripping, another brushing will remove hair that was loosened during the bath. Once wet, the dog hair seems to clump and create less flyaways making it possible to wipe up with a dry paper towel. And don't forget to wipe out drain screens to remove the potential for clogs.

Again, wipe the dog's face, eyes and ears to make sure no water is inside.

While they are softened by the water, now is also an excellent time to trim nails. A weekly nail trim or filing will allow you to keep your pet's nails short without worry cutting them too closely.

While your dog is drying off, take a few minutes to soak his collar in warm soapy water, then rinse and set aside until it is dry. Do not replace your dog's collar until both the collar and dog's neck are completely dry.

If you are applying flea or tick treatments, do so immediately after the bath so the treatment works until the next bath.

By taking a few simple steps to prepare for your bath, you and your dog may actually enjoy the experience.


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    • Winter Maclen profile image

      Chris 6 years ago from Illinois

      I am glad you liked it. When it is bath day at our house it is bedlam.

    • boutiqueshops profile image

      Sylvia 6 years ago from Corpus Christi, Texas

      These are great tips! I have an achy senior and a middle aged wiggler. One bathes inside & one outside. LOL Great job!

    • profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago

      I can totally see you and Gunny in the shower!!