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How to Give a Dog a Bath

If you are giving a dog a bath for the first time, the prospect may seem a bit daunting.  There was a time when it was tricky to bathe a dog without drying out the coat, but these days it’s easier with formulated products made specifically for dogs including shampoos and conditioners, detanglers and more.  Some people think that a hose-off outside is the same thing as a bath, but for multiple reasons it isn’t.  For one, the hose water is cold, which isn’t as effective and isn’t fun for the dog.  For another, your dog will immediately get dirty again since he’s outside, probably even dirtier than before since he’s wet.  

What are the steps to giving a dog a proper bath?

1.    Comb your dog’s coat first.  If you don’t, the coat will get more tangled and matted in the bath and will present a much bigger hassle later.  Before putting your dog in the tub (or sink if you have a very small dog—most dogs are too big for this), get sterile cotton balls and insert them gently into your dog’s ears just to keep the water from getting into them.  

2.    Use lukewarm water to get your dog’s hair wet.  You can use a washcloth to get your dog’s face wet.

3.    Wash your dog’s coat using properly formulated doggie shampoo.  Dog shampoo won’t dry out your pet’s coat.  Keep shampoo away from the face and eyes.  Work up a good lather.  

4.    Thoroughly rinse your dog’s coat.  Just as you’d run your fingers through your own hair to get all the shampoo out, do the same for your dog.  Getting all the shampoo out will make it less likely that the hair will mat later.

5.    Next use conditioner.  This is another way of preventing mats, and it will keep the coat from drying out.  Rinse this out thoroughly as well when you’re done.

6.    Wash your dog’s face gently with a wet washcloth.  Keep shampoo and conditioner away from the face since it can be sensitive.

7.    Dry your dog off with a towel after you’ve done another quick look for soapy patches of fur (and rinsed off any remaining shampoo or conditioner).  Your dog will probably shake away any water which is still left on his coat, so you’re most likely going to get wet.  You should then take the cotton balls out of your dog’s ears.  

8.    If you blow dry your dog’s hair, you should do so only using a special hair dryer designed for canines.  These hair dryers use lower heat settings.  If your own blow dryer has a no heat setting, you can use that as well, though it may not be sufficient for larger dogs.

Washing your dog can be quite an adventure, for both you and your dog.  So do everything you can to make your dog comfortable and to reduce the chances of tangling and matting.  That will make it an easier chore for both of you.


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