A concerned Dachshund sticks his head out of a tub during bath time

How to bathe your dog

By Team Walmart Pets

April 21, 2021


min read

Whether you’re freshening their fur or scrubbing out some dirt, sometimes your dog needs a bath. Some dogs take to water like ducks, while others are ready for a water fight. If you’re not up for the challenge, reach out to your local groomer. 

If you are up to the challenge, here are some tips to make bath time a breeze.

First, make sure your dog is healthy

Search your dog for reddened or scaly skin, grease, scabs, sore patches or lumps. Gently run your hands over their body to find them. If you already know of some lumps, make sure they didn’t get any bigger. If anything feels out of the ordinary, put bathtime on hold and call your vet. 

You can also give yourself peace of mind right this second by enrolling with Walmart Pet Insurance. It’ll cover up to 90% of vet bills when your pet gets sick or hurt.

How to bathe your dog

Step 1: If your dog has long hair, check their coat for any tangles. Tangled hair can become matted if it’s not brushed out before a bath. If you see a tangle, grasp it above the skin, work the hairs apart and comb it out with a dog hairbrush. If the tangle is close to the skin, take your dog to a groomer. 

Step 2: Clip their nails, but be very careful. Clipping too much could cause bleeding and possibly an infection. If you’re not confident with clippers, leave this to a groomer. And if you notice your dog’s nails are starting to curl under the paw, contact your vet right away.

NOTE: It’s important to only use tools designed for trimming dog nails

Step 3: Check all the places where dirt and bacteria can hide, like where their legs meet their body and between their toes. Use damp cotton wool to clean the crevices, then wipe them dry. Remember, if you see darkly stained skin, grease or a discharge, you should contact your vet. 

Step 4: Wipe your dog’s face using a face cloth damp with warm water.

Step 5: Check inside your dog’s ears. If any smell, wax, redness or discharge is present, you should contact your vet and ask if you can clean them with these approved products. Once you’re done, plug their ears with cotton. 

Step 6: If bathing inside, place a non-slip pad or wet towel in your bath and fill it with warm (not hot) water. While you’re at it, get your dog shampoo ready. In terms of depth, we recommend the water to be below your dog’s elbows. 

NOTE: If you’re worried about slipping in your bathroom, or your pet making a mess, consider bathing outside. Just make sure your pet isn’t able to run away.

Step 7: Pick up your dog, speak softly to them and lower them into the water. Wet their coat down to the skin, place a coin-sized amount of shampoo in your palm then gently scrub from their head to their tail while lathering them with your fingertips. 

Step 8: Rinse your dog until the runoff water is clear, and make sure there are no suds on their skin, which can irritate your dog. Then, using your hands, squeeze the excess water from their coat, lift your pet out of the tub and dry them with a towel. Don’t forget to remove the cotton from their ears! 

NOTE: You’ll need to dry long-haired dogs with a blowdryer. Set it to the “cool” setting, hold the dryer at a distance and keep it moving. If your dog seems uncomfortable, stop immediately.

How often should you bathe your dog?

A good guideline is once a month, but it depends on your dog. Dogs with water-resistant coats need baths less often, while dogs with greasy skin and dogs who need prescription shampoo should be bathed more often. If you’re unsure, ask your vet.

Pet Health

Dog Health

Pet Care

Pet Grooming

Pet Safety

Bathing Pets

Pet Shampoo

Photo by Darren Richardson on Unsplash