How to clean your dog


Sep 14, 2023

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How to clean your dog

For some reason, a muddy puddle is extremely inviting to most dogs and in the UK, even at the height of summer, there’re often lots of muddy puddles around. So when you’re out and about on a hike, or a stroll waterproof jacket packed in backpack, you’re four legged friend will walk along beside you, spot a pool of muddy water and before you know it, they’ve jumped in and are rolling around in it like it’s the best place on earth.

After an eye roll and sigh, you’ll be wondering how you’re going manoeuvre them through the house to the bath without dirtying everything in sight.

Even if your pooch isn’t a fan of the mud and is a grown up and wears a nice dog coat, they still need a clean every now and then – just like we do. So how do you ensure your dog is properly bathed, cleaned and not looking like a swamp monster? Here are our top tips.

Don’t bathe them all the time

Unlike humans, dogs don’t need regular washes.

They will groom themselves through licking, nibbling and shaking to get rid of a lot of dirt. The natural oils in their coats also mean they’re good at maintaining a healthy coat, and washing these oils away can result in skin irritation and dryness.

It is recommend washing them once every three months as a rule of thumb, but once a week or month is fine if they’re really dirty.

Be prepared

A good clean rests on good preparation.

Start bathing your dog from a young age. This means they’ll get used to the process and be less likely to fear bath time and make it difficult for you.

Make sure you have a specially-formulated dog shampoo and if you don’t have any in, do not under any circumstances use human shampoo. Dogs have a skin pH that is different to ours so using human products can have a detrimental impact on their skin and eyes. There are many dog shampoos to choose from but if you need any help or have any concerns, speak to a professional groomer or vet for recommendations.

Brush your pooch before washing too, otherwise the loose fur and dirt can cause matting.

If it doesn’t have one on already, put a collar on your dog. This gives you something to hold and will help to keep them steady while being bathed.

Surprisingly, a lot of dogs don’t like bath time and it can be a stressful experience. In such cases, get everything set up in the bathroom (shampoo, brush, towels etc) before you get started to avoid them being left alone or kept waiting.

Choose the best spot

Where you bathe your dog depends on their size. If they’re a huge Bernese Mountain dog then a bath is the obvious choice. If it’s a dachshund, the sink will do.

For those pooches not a fan of bath time or are older, a shower might be preferable to avoid injuries.

With all options, make sure the water is lukewarm to prevent burns. As with baby milk, put a few drops on the wrist as these are more sensitive to temperature than hands.

Do a proper wash

It’s time to start bathing your dog. Soak their fur gently, especially underneath, and ensure their eyes and ears don’t get too wet.

Add a bit of shampoo onto the body and massage it in until it lathers and foams, again avoiding the eyes and ears. Perhaps start at the back and work forwards so they’ve gotten used to it before you start on more sensitive areas, like the tummy or head. Rinse off the shampoo thoroughly with warm water to avoid leftover soap irritating their skin.

Don’t forget to wipe their face with a damp cloth and check between their paws to ensure no debris is wedged in.

If your dog doesn’t like bath time, provide reassurance throughout the whole experience. Talk to them throughout, take your time, keep them secure, don’t leave them alone and offer distractions, such as treats.

Dry them properly

Once your dog is lovely and clean, take them out of the bath, sink or shower, and use a towel to get rid of excess moisture before letting them dry naturally. Your dog will instinctively shake once out of the bath too, so be prepared to get water everywhere!

For longer haired dogs, using a hair dryer on a low heat and low setting can speed up the process but make sure to hold it far away and don’t focus on one spot for too long.

Remember, you always want your dog to enjoy getting cleaned as much as possible. It can be a good ideas to reward your dog with an edible treat or dog toy, one the bath is over so they know that they’ll get something at the end of the process.

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