Veterinarian - San Diego
1540 Morena Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92110



By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
November 02, 2012
Category: Pet Care
Tags: Untagged

As pet owners, we all love for our furry friends to smell fresh and clean.  However, getting to that point is easier said than done. Rarely are dogs excited to jump into the bathtub for a good rub-a-dub-dub. You may decide that bathing your fearful dog may be best left up to us, your veterinary team, or a professional groomer.  But if you choose to bathe your dog at home, here are some helpful tips to make the process logistically easy and stress-free for both you and your dog.

  1. Practice Makes Perfect.  It’s a good idea to do a trial run before putting your dog in a bathtub with running water.  First try putting your dog in a tub (without the water).  Give your dog some positive reinforcement and a treat, and then take him/her out.  Do this a few times to get your dog more comfortable with the process.
  2. Be Prepared.  Be sure to take off your pet’s collar and tags.  Ensure that you have towels, shampoo, and a cup (if needed for rinsing purposes) within hand’s reach prior to bathing.  If it’s warm outside consider bathing outside.  If washing him/her indoors, you may wish to remove any knick-knacks or other bathroom items that might accidentally get knocked over. 
  3. Do a Quick Comb Through.  This may not come straight to mind for many, but doing a quick brushing of your pet’s coat beforehand will help to remove as much loose hair as possible (The Furminater seems to be a popular choice for many pet owners). 
  4. Choosing the Right Shampoo.  Be sure to use a shampoo specifically formulated for pets.  Using products meant for humans can strip your dog’s fur of its natural oils that are used to protect dogs from cold and wet weather.  If your dog is prone to dry and sensitive skin, it may be beneficial to have him/her examined by your veterinarian so they can recommend a medicated pet shampoo specific to your pet’s needs.  This will help you to better manage your pet’s skin. 
  5. Rinsing.  A showerhead with a flexible hose is ideal, however, a large cup will suffice.  Be sure to thoroughly rinse your dog’s belly, chest, neck, and under the tail.  Getting water in your pet’s ears may lead to infection.  If your dog is prone to ear infections, we suggest placing some cotton balls in your dog’s ears to prevent water from getting into their canals.  Don’t forget to remove the cotton balls once bath time is over!
  6. Shake It Out.  If the weather is nice enough, you can try wrapping your dog in a towel and letting them dry the rest of the way outside.  If not, pull the shower curtain closed so your dog can shake off and then pat them down with a towel.
  7. Final Grooming.  Performing a final brushing will help remove any hair loosened by the bath, redistribute oils in the fur, and make your pet look shiny and clean.
  8. A Great Time. Bath time is a great time to examine your dog carefully for any skin irritations, fleas and ticks, ear infections, or other health concerns.  It may also be useful to trim his nails and brush his teeth at the same time (Be sure to use a doggy toothpaste!).

Happy Bathing!  Don’t forget that many dogs experience an “after-bath excitement” phase, so be sure to hold onto your hat!


Zawiskowski, Stephen.  "7 Minute Solution: Give Your Dog a Bath" Parade Magazine. 2011.

How to Give Your Dog a Bath.