The Right Way to Dry a Dog
Drying a Dog
While this might seem a simple enough task or no-brainer, and in some conditions or for some dog breeds, drying a dog and drying him or her the right way is really important.
Most dogs who go for a dip in the river, ocean or even a wading pool (like the picture of this author's Gabby the malamute above) will be allowed to mostly air dry--after maybe a rub down with a fluffy towel or two.
However, all breeds aren't created equal. For instance, it might surprise many to know that arctic breeds (like the Alaskan malamute and Siberian husky) should not be left wet for long periods of time because they can develop mold in their coats. This occurs because they are a double-coated breed and dependent upon what stage their coat is in, a damp coat can lead to the build-up of mold which hypothetically could lead to bacterial infections of the skin. While this is not extremely common, most double-coated breeds should be dried as much as possible after getting totally saturated--whether for fun or being groomed.
What ways are there to dry a dog and which ones work the best?
Let Nature Take Its Course
In any situation where you want to dry your dog, letting his or her natural instincts take over is the first step in getting rid of lots of water.
Let your dog shake, rattle and roll so to speak and behind the protection of a very large towel, no matter where you're drying the dog--let 'em rip!
Another great way is to have a dog in a closed environment with extra towels or even blankets on the floor. Their natural instinct will be to drop down and roll around, rubbing into the blankets and towels--eliminating even more water from their fur.
It's always a good idea to have the dog on a leash after bathing or dipping in water as being wet seems to energize most dogs. Anyone who washes a dog themselves knows the drill after a bath when the dog is partially dry and starts running in circles through the house, rubbing themselves like crazy on anything that's handy. It's refreshing yes--but it's also a dog activity that is infused with happiness after all is said and done. A happy dog can be a crazy dog so make sure the dog is in a secure environment when he or she starts doing "wet laps."
Towel Drying Your Dog
Drying your dog with towels is usually the first line of treatment after he or she has been allowed to shake off most of the moisture.
Use large, fluffy, thick towels for large dogs and smaller, fluffy, absorbent towels for small dogs. Dependent upon the breed, you may or may not get loads of hair that comes off as you rub the dog but with some dogs, such as Labradors, you may also get off some of the oil that is a natural part of their coat. Take heed accordingly and use towels that you aren't going to worry about using later for humans.
Dry the head first and work your way steadily towards the tail. If your towel or towels become saturated, it won't do you much good to keep drying so an ample supply is recommended. Per malamute, we generally go through at least three if not four large beach towels due to the nature of their double coat and the amount of water that can get trapped in their wet fur.
Most dogs aren't fond of friction rubbing--rubbing against the fur in the opposite direction. This can also lead to over-stimulating the dog and "hyper" behavior so beware.
Be sure and dry all legs, the tail and their underside. While they do not "seem" wet in these spots, they also trap lots of moisture especially when sopping wet from a dip in the lake or the ocean.
Word of caution here as well: Especially when letting your dog go into lakes or streams, but even the ocean, rinsing the dog is usually recommended. Different bacterias can live in lakes and streams and can get into the dog's coat where he or she may lick themselves and induce illnesses such as GI upsets or even bacterial infections. While salt water is seemingly harmless, it can cause skin irritation in some dogs so rinsing is usually recommended after a dip in the salt water. If in doubt, ask your breeder, groomer or vet. In some regions, vaccinations are recommended for dogs who swim in lakes, ponds and streams.
At the Groomer's
Notice the tie-out here that is available to groomers--and at some do-it-yourself dog washes like the one we took Gabby to.
These work effectively to keep the dog in the huge metal tub and prevent escape so that you get a thorough bath done and then subsequently, a thorough drying done.
This method is a definite time saver as all told, it took roughly 30 minutes to bathe, condition, dry and blow dry the dog--with the added benefit of standing and not having to hold the dog in the tub or bend over or kneel down to get the job done. There was everything available from skin sensitive shampoo, conditioner, nozzle sprayer set to just the right temp and pressure, and a blow dryer--along with ample towels and use of a chamois.
Drying Your Dog After Grooming
Gabby the malamute is shown here at the U-Wash just after bathing. Notice how dry her fur looks. That is after at least three or four towels and the chamois as shown here.
Use the chamois much as you use one on a car. It readily absorbs the leftover water that didn't come off with the larger fluffier towels and is a little easier to handle when drying the head, ears, extremities and tail.
Blow Drying Your Dog Dry
Some dogs are better than others when it comes to using blow dryers. There are of course the professional models which work great but even human blow dryers work to dry your dog. A word of caution here--go slowly and try your dog out on it a little at a time and reward, reward, reward. Some dogs are inherently afraid of the noise and never get used to it. However, this author finds that treats speak louder than words always!
Tips on using blow dryers on dogs:
- Keep temperature at a low setting--too hot is bad for your dog's coat and skin
- Work from butt to head (though some folks work head to butt)
- Do not blow the blower directly on the eyes, face or ears
- Gently fluff the hair with your hands, a towel or chamois or a comb or brush while blowing to separate hair and dry the fur quicker
- Don't forget to dry the fur on the tail and legs--it may seem dry but it generally is very saturated
- Use a comb or brush when almost done to pull off any loose hair
For more natural drying, after drying the dog with towels, especially on warm to hot days, put the dog in a crate and set up fans at several spots around the crate. Turn them on a medium to low speed and allow the fans to dry the dog thoroughly.
You can also take Fido on a car ride in his or her crate with the windows down and get a nice "natural" drying job for those times when you've taken him or her swimming or for a romp on the beach.
Remember though with any drying method for your dog, just like humans, too much drying is not a good thing. It can cause burns to the skin or irritation which can lead to itching and infections. Dogs generally do best when bathed earlier in the day rather than at night because it allows their fur to dry completely but if the dog is almost to completely dry, he or she should dry the rest of the way adequately especially if kept inside.