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How to properly bathe a dog

For us humans, a daily bath or show is perfectly normal. But dogs don’t have the same hygiene needs as we do. If you’re a new dog owner – or not – you may be wondering how often to bathe your dog. Or how to clean him or her properly, and what type of shampoo you should use. Here are the answers to all your questions!

Why wash a dog? 


Anyone who has spent any time around dogs knows just how dirty and smelly they can get. Especially if they spend a lot of time playing outside. Dogs can end up covered in mud, dirt – and yes, even feces – faster than you can blink.

A dirty dog isn’t just a question of aesthetics; it can also lead to irritated skin. Giving your dog a bath from time to time will help keep him or her healthy. As a nice bonus, a good washing will leave your dog’s coat shiny clean.

Being dirty is just one call for bath time. Your dog may also come into contact with a toxic substance or have a skin condition for which your vet recommends a regular bath.

How often should I wash my dog? 

That’s the question almost all dog owners ask. How often you need to bathe your dog depends on a number things, such as its:

  • Breed
  • Size
  • Type of coat (curly, long, short, etc.)
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Regular activities

An outdoor dog will naturally need a bath more often than an indoor dog that spends most of its time on the couch. 

As a general rule, dogs with long or curly coats should be bathed about once a month and short-haired dogs every 2 to 3 months.

PRO TIP
Don’t bathe your dog too often; it can lead to itchy, irritated skin.

DID YOU KNOW?
A smelly dog (coat smelling of “wet dog”, smoke, food odors, etc.) doesn’t always have to mean bath time. There are special odor neutralizers for pets that will get rid of bad smells on a dog’s coat with a simple spray. No need to go through the whole bath rigmarole. Just spray the coat and walk away. No rinsing required. A real life saver when you’re pressed for time or have company on the way!

Here are our top 3 recommended bath-free odor neutralizers for dogs:

Which shampoo to use on your dog? 

Dog hair is not like human hair. Nor is dog skin like human skin. The pH of their skin is less acidic than ours. So only pH-neutral shampoos specially formulated for dogs should be used to clean their coat.

We recommend 3 dog shampoos, based on your dog’s coat:


These shampoos detangle the coat and rinse off easily to leave it soft and shiny. They also get rid of stubborn smells on the coat to leave your dog looking and smelling great.

All of the above products are safe for dogs. They’re vegan and made with natural ingredients. They’re also free of silicones, parabens, phthalates and sulfates.

PRO TIP
Avoiding parabens and sulfates in skincare products is important. Check out this article from Wigreports.

How to bathe a dog 


Now that you know how often to wash your dog and which shampoo to use, here’s how to properly bathe a dog

Before the bath

If you have a long-haired dog, give the coat a good brushing before bath time. This will detangle the coat and minimize the amount of hair that ends up in the bottom of the tub.

During the bath

Fill the bottom of the tub with warm water and put your dog in the tub. Wet him or her thoroughly, carefully avoiding the ears and eyes. Apply shampoo to the coat and massage into a lather, including the head. Leave the shampoo on for a few minutes, then rinse it off with clean water.

After the bath

Gently rub the coat with a towel to remove the excess water. If you want, you can continue drying with the coat with a hair dryer at the low temperature setting. Paying particular attention to “damp” are around the ears, armpits and groin. Once the coat is nice and dry, give your dog a quick brush and you’re done!

How to get a dog used to bath time


Few dogs enjoy getting a bath. The trick is to get your pet used to it at as young of an age as possible. Puppies can be introduced to baths once they are 2 months old.

PRO TIP
To make bath time more enjoyable for you and you dog:

  • Pour water slowly over your dog and soothe him or her with gentle pets and kind, reassuring words
  • Reward your dog with a treat immediately after a bath so that he or she associates the experience with something pleasant.

Love your dog? Keep him or her clean and healthy!

Congratulations, you’re now a dog-bathing expert! We hope you’ve found these dog-bathing tips helpful.

And if your dog is unlucky enough to get sprayed by a skunk, read this article My Dog Got Sprayed by a Skunk... Help! It explains step-by-step the no-fail method for getting skunk smell out of a dog’s coat.

Enjoy tubbie time!