Bathing your dog or puppy



This article is brought to you by our friends at SICCARO

Bathing Dogs

Dogs by nature will need to be bathed from time to time in order to maintain basic hygiene and grooming standards. It is also imperative to bathe dogs to avoid health and skin issues such as fungal and bacterial problems. At other times, it will be necessary to give them a bath when your dog is muddy, caked in dirt or has rolled in something malodorous.

Bathing your dog should not be complicated and is not dissimilar from the process you would use to bathe yourself. This straightforward guide will discuss the process and share some helpful tips and pitfalls to avoid, especially for new dog owners.


How often should my dog(s) be bathed?

Factors such as dog odour, skin conditions and levels of dirt or grime will determine how frequently your dog will need a bath. Working dogs who spend most of the year outdoors may require more frequent bathing than dogs who live predominantly indoors and don't get as dirty. If your dog’s odour doesn’t bother you, their fur isn’t visibly dirty or their lack of bathing doesn’t lead to health issues then there is no imminent need for dogs to take a bath. Although some dogs with allergic skin issues may need more frequent bathing because it will be part of their prescribed treatment.

This means that some owners will choose to bathe their dogs monthly, whilst others only a few times per year. Factors such as breed, size, fur thickness and length of fur, lifestyle factors, activity levels and types of activity will dictate the amount of bathing your own dog will require. It is something that your nose and common sense will help you determine.

It is also essential that dogs aren’t bathed too frequently because it can cause skin irritations, especially if the skin isn’t dried well or harsh soaps are used.


Basic Bathing Instructions and helpful hints

Many vets recommend using ONLY dog shampoo because even gentle baby shampoo and pH balanced shampoos for humans can be too strong for the thin skin that dogs have. The strong sulfates in these shampoos can irritate and damage the soft skin and hair follicles, creating lesions or other issues.

Preparing to wash your dog

  1. Before starting, ensure your dog’s coat has been thoroughly brushed to get any knots or tangles out. If it is possible, it is wise to brush outdoors to avoid fur and loose hairs going through your home. You can also lightly brush through whilst washing with a soft and wide bristled brush but it is often better to do this before and after washing as once your dog is wet it’s best to get them dry again.
  2. Choose an ideal washing space. Consider the most ideal place to wash your dog knowing that it is likely to get wet when they shake the excess water off so choose the place where flying water splashes will not damage your home.
    The shower recess of your home will be sufficient but some people choose to use a bath tub, laundry tub, a large wash bucket or baby bath any other vessel that the dog can stand comfortably inside of in order to saturate the coat. 
  3. Prepare all that you will need including dog shampoo and towels for the ground and to rub dry afterwards or ideally if you would like to be efficient, a premium dog drying robe as the SICCARO Supreme Pro which you can put on your dog to have it dried quickly and easily. Lastly, it is advisable to wear a splash proof apron so that your clothing is somewhat protected as dogs like to shake without warning once wet. Some people even choose to wear a rain poncho or jacket, but again, it is up to you!


Bathing your dog

  1. Let the water run and the temperature on the inside of your wrist (as you would test baby milk) to make sure it’s not too hot – as mentioned, dogs skin is sensitive so it should never be too hot. Likewise, the bath will be a lot more enjoyable for your dog if the water isn’t too cold so it is best to aim for luke warm so that they enjoy the process and making it easier for you. An uncomfortable, squirmy dog is never easy to wash.
  2. Then wet your dog down so that they are entirely saturated. Some people recommend against using high-pressure nozzles, because the pressure can be frightening or unpleasant so you can break the pressure by using the back side of your hand, whilst simultaneously massaging through the fur to ensure that it is thoroughly wet.
  3. Lather with a dog shampoo that’s appropriate for your dog, taking care to rub down the hind and buttocks. Avoid the eye area or getting it near the mouth making sure that they don’t ingest any of the shampoo. Wash the body of the dog first and lastly the head because this makes them shake. Ensure there are sufficient suds to make sure the dirt is removed.
  4. Rinse well and ensure that all soap is removed. If in doubt, it is important to repeat rinsing because any soap residue can cause skin issues.
  5. Some dog owners like to use a dog conditioner, however this is entirely optional and will be sometimes helpful for longer coated breeds of dogs that are prone to getting knots. It is a step entirely up to you and the process is the same but instead of getting suds, the product will be lathered or massaged through the coat and then again thoroughly rinsed.


Dog Drying

If there is a shower curtain or screen, allow your dog a good shake off inside to eliminate the first amount of water.

Bring the dog out of the shower and make them stand on a towel or ideally an absorbent dog mat such as the SICCARO FlexDog Mat which helps stop them slipping around and also assists with catching dripping water. Alternatively a good towel underneath will also help to catch dripping water.

Then comes the fun part, which is rubbing down. Wrap a towel over the back and begin to rub down the coat in the direction of the fur from the front to the rear of the dog. Many dogs will want to play tug of war with the towel, especially after having sat still whilst being washed.

Alternatively, you can simply wrap them in the SICCARO Supreme Pro fast drying robe meaning that you can let them run around or rest on a super absorbent FlexDog Mat. They should be dry within 15 minutes of wearing the fast drying robe.

If you are using the towel method, simply rub down the fur until the outer layer is thoroughly dry and the inner is also dry to run your fingers through. If the dog is indoors and it is warm, then leaving them slightly damp to dry off near a fire is fine. But ensure you check the inner legs, stomach, the hind rear end, tail and stomach for damp areas and ensure they get dry to avoid any issues. A pair of drying mitts such as the DryGloves by SICCARO, can also help with getting to those more delicate areas than a clumsy towel.  It is essential that dogs get dry in areas where they are prone to licking themselves.


Further Dog Grooming

It is also good to give a final brushing if your dog is used to being brushed. If not, then a check for any last knots is helpful, because any matting of the fur can lead to further chewing and irritations and it can also harbour trapped moisture, which can lead to hot spots and fungal growth. Most shorter-coated dogs won’t require this step.

Some dog owners like to blow dry their dogs coat and brush out the fur to straighten it, which is perfectly fine providing that they don’t have the blow dryer on too high or leave the heat blasting on the same spot on the dogs coat which can burn the dogs skin or cause them to overheat.

Most vets advise against blow-drying at home because it is quite risky if you don’t know how to manage the dryer so that it doesn’t burn the dog’s skin.

We advise not to try using a hair dryer on your dog if you aren’t certain about what you are doing, or if the dog is skittish or frightened by the sound and heat. Also, be wary of making the dog too hot in general. Some double coated dogs who have particularly long hair will need the assistance of a blow dryer to get their thick undercoats thoroughly dry, but using a product like a SICCARO dog drying robe will definitely remove the majority of moisture meaning that this step may not be required. Of course all dogs are different, with different fur qualities so individual discretion is important.


Of course if you’re in doubt about any of the above, it is recommended to go to a vet or dog grooming salon in order to get the best methods and recommendations for your dogs unique fur. 


Importance of Drying

It is essential to get dogs thoroughly dry as quickly as possible, this is especially true for double or thick coated and long haired breeds such as Old English Sheep dogs. There are a number of reasons why, apart from comfort to the dog, but the primary reasons are that damp, warm fur becomes a perfect breeding ground for fungal infections.

Wet and damp patches of skin tend to easily become areas called hot spots, which is otherwise known as acute moist dermatitis or what might look like red, irritated and moist lesions. Dogs will often start licking at these, which will quickly worsen the issue.

For this same reason many vets, groomers and dog trainers have been recommending, of late is an ultra absorbing dog drying robe called the Supreme Pro by SICCARO. Unlike towels and towelling dog robes, it is made of an absorbent viscose that can absorb 11 times its weight in water so it can get even the most thick coated dogs 80-90% dry within 15 minutes depending on how long and thick the dogs coat is. 

Pete the Vet who is a regular contributor to the pet section of The Weekend UK Telegraph has used and continues the SICCARO drying range on his own dogs as well as dogs in his practice commenting, “This is a super-efficient dog drying coat that removes 80 per cent of moisture from a dog’s soaking wet coat within 15 minutes… It is an innovative, useful way of managing your dogs’ wetness, they’re well worth the investment.”


Final words

If your dog is showing any signs of irritation after a bath, it is important to call and speak to a vet, especially in the case of red spots, wounds or bumps on the skin that could turn into hot spots or other allergies. Any anomalies should be treated as soon as possible to ensure that the issue does not become agitated or wounds don’t become enlarged.

Also note that various shampoos or other elements can cause allergic reactions on dogs skin. If you see anything out of the ordinary it is always crucial that you seek the advice of a professional veterinarian. Also if your dog has ingested any shampoo or conditioner then it is also important to seek immediate advice.


View Siccaro's dog washing video here

Visit SICCARO for more information.


More information

Tools & Services


Copyright © The Kennel Club Limited 2019. The unauthorised reproduction of text and images is strictly prohibited.