How to Give Your Dog a Bath

Dog Veterinarian
Your Dog May Learn To Love Bath Time

Pet groomers do a fine job and save you time. However, for various reasons, many dog owners take personal responsibility for grooming their pets, perhaps to save money, protect the dog from the hubbub of the pet salon, or just for enjoyment. Whatever your reason, it’s not very hard to do, especially if you have all the right equipment and supplies. Here are tips to get even the muddiest, smelliest dog squeaky clean.


  1. Gather your materials: You need some basic equipment and supplies to bathe Fido:
    1. A bathtub, shower or bucket of sufficient size
    2. Plenty of towels
    3. Dog shampoo and conditioner recommended and/or sold by your veterinarian
    4. Eye drops (optional) and ear cleaner
    5. Sponge, comb, brush and groomer’s scissors
    6. A bucket for pouring water
    7. Soft bristle toothbrush and dog toothpaste
    8. Cotton balls to clean out ears
    9. Dog biscuits or treats to keep Fido happy
  2. Rubber mat: Place a rubber mat in the bathing vessel to keep your dog from slipping. This will help keep the dog feel more secure, and the soft surface is easier on the paws.
  3. Preliminary grooming: Use a brush to remove excess dirt and to unsnarl and de-mat your dog’s coat. Heavy matting indicates the need for more frequent grooming. Tease the mats apart and carefully cut them away with the kind of scissors used by professional groomers. Pay special attention to the area under the tail. Ask your vet about whether you should apply an ointment or mineral oil to protect your dog’s eyes. Don’t wipe the dog’s eyes or let the applicator touch its eyes.
  4. First bath: The first time you bathe your dog might cause your dog to be apprehensive or confused, so go slow. Help your dog into the tub and speak nicely too it. Offer treats. Mimic the way you’ll be touching the dog so he gets accustomed to the actions. Splash a little water on the dog while giving it high praise. Run the water so that your dog gets accustomed to the sound. Towel the dog down to show what it feels like. Then add enough warm (but not hot) water to the tub to cover its paws, and only slowly increase the water to its final level.
Dog Vet
Cleaner Is Better

Bathing Fido

  1. Entrance: Lift your dog into the tub, shower or large bucket if it needs help.
  2. Wet The Dog Down: Always use warm water that seems comfortable for your pet.
  3. Lather up: Apply doggy shampoo and work up a rich lather all over its body except for its head, which you save for last to minimize eye irritation. Doggy shampoo shouldn’t cause any eye discomfort or stinging, but dogs don’t like it in their eye any more than humans do. Use gentle motions, moving from the neck to the rear, over the tail and sex organs. Speak nicely all the while.
  4. Examine dog: Take the opportunity to check the dog’s skin for rashes, lumps, strange marks, hair loss, color changes and flaking. You’ll want to show your vet whatever you discover when you next visit.
  5. Rinse: Thoroughly rinse the shampoo out of Fido’s coat. Use a spray attachment if available, or gently pour water from a cup or small bucket. Wash the dog’s face with a wet washcloth to help keep Fido calm. Keep rinsing until you no longer detect any shampoo bubbles. If your dog has long fur, apply a vet-approved conditioner according to the product instructions.
  6. Brush teeth: Many folks take bath time as an opportunity to brush their dog’s teeth. Your vet will steer you to a toothpaste made especially for dogs. Lift the dog’s lips and brush the front of its mouth. Get it to open its mouth so that you can brush the inner teeth. Take your time and offer praise throughout.
  7. Clean ears: Use cotton balls and a vet-approved ear cleaner to wipe down the outer ears and then towards, but not far into, the ear canal. Don’t pour water in the dog’s ears.
  8. Drying: Stand the dog on a towel and dry it off by wrapping it with a clean, soft and dry towel. You may need several towels to dry the whole body. Dry the inside of the ears with cotton. You can let your dog air dry or, if your dog is tolerant, use a blow dryer on a cool, gentle setting.
  9. Reward: Give your dog some treats and extra praise when all done. After it’s dry, give Fido a thorough brushing to prevent matting. Don’t brush wet fur, as your dog might find it unpleasant and you might damage the fur.

Products such as shampoos, conditioners, ear cleaners, eye drops and toothpaste should be specially formulated for dogs and approved by your veterinarian before you use them.