Everyone knows that doggy smell that starts to hover around your pet after a while, and it's not pleasant, no matter how much you love them. Although they don't need bathing as much as we do, the occasional dip in the tub does some much needed good for you and your nose, particularly after a delightful roll in the mud.
Dogs only need bathing if they look dirty or are beginning to smell. Once a month is perfectly adequate; they have oils in their coat that keeps them looking shiny and nice between times. If you have a dog with difficult skin your vet may advise you otherwise.
There are a variety of shampoos available – choose one that suits your dogs needs. Shampoos with oatmeal such as Aloveen Oatmeal can soothe itchy skin, whilst others will kill ticks and fleas, such as Dermocare Malaseb. If you have a black or a white dog, you can buy special shampoo to really make their coats shine, like Fido's Black Gloss or White and Bright.
Make sure not to use human shampoo. It is too harsh for their sensitive skin; and you can end up with an itchy, sore dog or a dry and brittle coat.
Before You Start
Make sure you have everything on hand. Lots of dogs deeply dislike the indignation of being soaked in water, so it will make the process easier if you are pre-prepared. You will need a shampoo, several towels, some cotton wool, several brushes and combs and lots of treats or toys. Remember to reward them for tolerating their cleaning both during and after!
Before wetting your dog, place the cotton wool into their ears. Do not push in it with your finger, just place it in just far enough that it won't fall out. This stops water getting into their ears, which can cause infections and nasty smelling ears.
Begin by brushing your dog's coat. This removes lots of dead hair and dirt, and will prevent tangles becoming even more matted once they get wet. See our article ‘brushing your dog' for tips on how to. A good quality combination brush is a good place to start, such as the one from PetOne.
Next, soak your dog in lukewarm water. It will be cooler than you would like your own shower, equal to a warm room temperature. Too hot and dogs will find it uncomfortable, as well as being bad for their skin.
Use your chosen shampoo to massage into the coat. Make sure to gently wash their bottom and genital areas. To wash their face, use a wash cloth or your hand to rub small amounts of shampoo in. Do it slowly and take extreme care not to get it in their eyes, ears or mouth.
Rinse your dog thoroughly with clean water; don't use the same water with shampoo already in it. Leaving any behind in the coat can cause itchiness and bad skin, as well as making the coat look tacky and dull. Rinse until the water runs completely clear, and they rinse again just to be sure. Use another clean wash cloth or cup your hand with water to rinse their face.
Once they are completely rinsed, let them have a shake off in the bath or shower, and then remove the cotton wool and begin to dry them with a towel. Rub them gently, starting from the bottom of their back and working forward. With so much hair the towel will get wet quicker than drying human skin, so you will need several to thoroughly dry them. Fuzzyard MicroFibre towels are highly absorbent and will soak up more than a human towel.
Don't use a human hair dryer on your dog; most will be frightened by the noise and feeling, and they run much too hot to use on dogs. If you want to dry your dog quickly, you can purchase specific air-dryers for dogs.
It is normal for dogs to run around like a lunatic and rub themselves on the carpet and furniture after a bath, or more frustratingly outside in the grass and bushes. Keep them somewhere safe, and where they can't dirty themselves or wet the furniture. Also, wait until they are bone dry before brushing them again.
Remember that many spot-on tick and flea prevention products such as Frontline and Advantix won't work if applied up to 48 hours after a bath.