How to properly bathe and clean your dog

Posted by Argos, 7 May 2019, last updated 19 May 2023.

Bathing your pooch doesn’t have to be a difficult task. As long as you use the right products and make sure your dog is feeling comfortable, bathing them should be easy. However, some dogs might find bath time a bit stressful. Signs of distress typically include changes in body posture, shaking, whining, barking, or panting.

If your dog shows any signs of these, seek professional advice and don’t force them into bath time. Here is everything you need to know about how to properly bathe and clean your dog plus a few dog grooming tips.

Where should you bathe your dog?

Depending on the size of your dog, the usual places to bathe your dog are in the sink or bathtub. Choosing the right place to bathe your dog depends entirely on their size and your facilities.

When it comes to bathing puppies or smaller dogs, you can use the sink. Larger breeds will need more room, so bathing your dog in a bathtub is a better option. You may even be able to bathe your dog outside if the weather is warm enough. Plus, a dog shower is great for those pups who might not be huge fans of bath time.

Older dogs may also benefit from a shower as they’re less likely to jump out and injure themselves. A shower is also good for older dogs because they may find it difficult finding a comfortable position or tire easily from standing in the bath. If you’re a little short for time, controlling the water flow with a handheld showerhead can be more efficient than bathing your dog using a tap.

However, if your shower is too small for this or you’re looking for a more flexible and stress-free option, try using a small dog bath or a medium dog bath. With most dog baths, there’s nothing to assemble, it’s durable and includes a leash retainer to keep your dog from going anywhere.

Brush your dog before washing them

If your dog is a longer-haired breed, make sure to brush through their fur before you put any product or water on it. This is so you can avoid matting their fur, which could otherwise hurt your pooch when brushing. If you’re looking to improve their coat’s appearance, using a 2-in-1 brush lets you detangle your pet’s fur and add shine at the same time

If your dog has matted hair, you may want to avoid bathing them until you have removed it. This is because water or shampoo products may cause the matted hair to worsen. Brushing your dog not only makes their fur look and feel smoother, ultimately making it easier to wash, but brushing is a way to remove any mud or dirt before washing them.

What should the water temperature be?

Think of bathing your dog like you would bathe an infant. They require lukewarm water as hot water can burn their skin. For larger dogs, use cooler water as they tend to overheat more than smaller dogs.

adult golden retriever taking a bath

Be sure to use dog shampoo

Dogs should be bathed and washed using a shampoo specifically made for dogs. However, there are a few things you should take into consideration when purchasing a shampoo. If your dog has sensitive skin, you’ll need to use hypoallergenic doggy shampoo. Or if you have a puppy, you’ll need a specific shampoo for pups. Short-haired dogs tend to benefit from a gentler shampoo and conditioner.

It’s also best to research into the available doggy shampoos and see which is most suitable for your dog. You can also speak to your vet for recommendations.

Make sure you use a shampoo that is made specifically for dogs. The best ingredients to look for are natural ones, such as aloe vera and oatmeal. Make sure to read the label too as shampoos that contain artificial fragrances should be avoided. Avoid shampoos designed for humans, as this can cause skin irritation and brittle fur.

Always ensure that your dog’s fur has no shampoo left in it before ending the bath. Make sure there are no bubbles left and the water is running clear. You wouldn’t want shampoo left on your furry friend. If you’re looking to keep your dog fresh in-between baths, dry shampoo for dogs is a great alternative. Also known as waterless shampoo, it keeps your dog’s skin and coat healthy until it’s grooming day.

How often can you bathe a dog?

This depends on your dog’s fur type. Most dogs do not need to be bathed any more often than once a week and many may need much less. This completely depends on the environment that they are in and whether they are running through muddy fields, jumping in the water or rolling in anything. If your dog seems to require regular bathing, this should be checked by a vet.

You should be careful not to bathe your pooch too much. Over-cleaning can strip your dog’s fur of its natural oils and make them prone to dandruff, matting and frizz. Most short-haired dogs work well with monthly baths.

How to wash your dog

 As stated above, make sure that the bath temperature is suitable for your dog. Once you put your dog in the bath, make sure there is just another water to properly clean them but only enough so that the bottom of the bath is covered. A dog’s bathing experience is very different to a human’s take on a relaxing bath-time.

When bathing your pooch, try to keep their eyes and ears dry. This may help them feel more comfortable. Also, water in the eyes or ears could cause an infection.

You can use a towel to dry off the excess water after your dog’s bath, but you should let your dog’s fur dry naturally as this allows their skin to breathe. Avoid using a hairdryer as this could burn them. Make sure your pooch is comfortable whilst you’re bathing them. If your dog doesn’t enjoy bath time, you should always reward them with a treat at the end of the wash as positive reinforcement.

brown long coated small dog

Trust a professional dog groomer

If you’re looking to groom your dog as well, it is important to use the right dog grooming tools for maximum control. Although, if you find it difficult to bathe and groom your dog, then dog groomers are a great solution. They are trained in properly cleaning and bathing your dog, meaning they will use proper dog shampoo and bathing products and give them a good grooming too.

Take care of your dog’s cleanliness and keep them protected with Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Explore our dog insurance policies today.

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