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Bathing A Dog

written by Anna Browning, Windsor Dobermans
submitted by Marj Brooks, Manorie Dobermans

NOTE: “The wetter the dog, the less soap you will need for a good lather”. Anna also said to dilute the soap. If you do this just about any soap will work including Joy dish detergent. The shampoo however must have the right p/h balance for dogs. I suggest that you print this out, try it and learn to bathe your dogs this way.

Here are Anna’s instructions:

Many years ago, while at the Western States Veterinary Conference, I attended a lecture on Dermatology.  The speaker started off by saying, ” I’ll bet you that most of you don’t know how to bathe a dog…”.  Well, we all laughed, but he then piped in, “Seriously, I’ll bet you that at least 90% of you are doing it wrong!”.  Silence came over the room as he explained.  Most people bathe their dogs in warm water.  This, he said, is for the owner’s comfort … not the dog’s!  His rules for bathing were:

  1. Bathe in tepid water — when I say bathe in tepid water, this really means room temperature water … NOT warm.  I thought I’d clarify this as some people think that tepid means warm.  If in doubt, go COLDER, not warmer.
  2. Use a hypoallergenic/PH balanced DOG shampoo
  3. Wet the dog thoroughly
  4. Dilute the shampoo before putting it on the animal
  5. Start at the head of the dog, and using ONLY your finger TIPS (NEVER the fingernails!), gently massage the dog WITH the grain of the hair… NEVER rub against the grain of the hair.
  6. Once the entire dog is properly bathed, rinse in tepid water
  7. Rinse again
  8. When you think you’ve rinsed enough, rinse one more time!

Other rules are:

  1. Don’t over bathe (don’t bathe too often… he suggested once a month if needed).
  2. If you do bathe, use an conditioning spray afterwards, such as HyLyt Bath Oil Spray to replace essential oils removed by bathing.
  3. When petting the dog, don’t rub against the grain of the hair…. especially important in short haired breeds without

His theory on “bathing reactions” are:

People use warm water to wet the dog. This opens the pores.  They then put shampoo on the dog, full strength,
irritating the skin.  The person then “scrubs” the dog against the grain of the hair, using the fingernails to get the dog “good and clean”!  This further irritates the skin.  They rinse the dog, again with warm water, shoving the shampoo
into the open, irritated hair follicle.  They don’t rinse thoroughly enough and once the warm water stops running, and the dog starts to dry, the pores close.  Now, you have an irritated hair follicle.  This irritated hair follicle now becomes infected, leading to folliculitis (those little zits your dogs usually get the day after bathing!!).  The owner then thinks the dog is allergic to the shampoo and has to go to the vet to get hydroxizine and prednisone to make the
bumps/pustules go away.

At the end of the lecture, the room was DEAD QUIET!  Myself included.  Up until that point I really didn’t know how to bathe dogs!