How to Give Your Dog a Bath Outside or Inside

Washing your dog is a lot more complicated than washing a car—and it comes with a lot more questions! If you’re wondering if you can use human shampoo to wash a dog, if you’re washing your dog too much (or not enough), how long you have to wait after applying flea medication before you give your dog a bath, or even just how to keep your dog from tracking so much mud into the house, we have the answers!

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin,
Tips for giving your dog a bath

How Often Should I Wash My Dog?

You can wash your dog every week if you want to, however, most dogs only need to be bathed once a month, or every time they seem dirty. You can’t overbathe a dog, but if you’re washing your dog every week and he doesn’t have an oily coat, or you’re washing him every few days, you may want to add a spoonful of olive oil to the shampoo and shake before applying to your dog. The olive oil will add some much-needed moisture into his coat and skin.

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Can I Wash My Dog After Applying Flea Medication?

If you’ve just applied a flea medication like Frontline or K9 Advantix, you should wait for 24–48 hours before you let that part of his body get wet. These topical flea medications work in conjunction with your dog’s oil glands, and need a couple of days to sink in. Manufacturers like Frontline also recommend that if you dog swims a lot, you may need to reapply the flea medication more frequently.

Do I Need to Take My Dog’s Flea Collar Off Before I Wash Him?

If your dog wears a flea collar, it may be a good idea to take it off before you bathe him. However, most newfangled flea collars that emit chemicals over time, like Seresto, don’t need to be removed when your dog is under water or getting shampooed. (Hate the chemicals? Here are some all-natural ways to get rid of fleas and ticks.)

Can I Use Human Shampoo to Wash a Dog?

Don’t spend money on specially formulated dog shampoos—simply buy baby shampoo instead. It lifts oil and dirt from your dog’s coat while protecting their eyes, and contains almost the exact same ingredients as dog shampoos at a fraction of the cost.

How Do I Give My Dog a Bath Outdoors?

If your dog loves the hose, bathtime couldn’t be easier. Put on your dog’s leash and hold one end or affix to a fence or post, then hose him down! Some dogs, however, don’t like the forceful flow of the hose or the cold of the water. Try filling up a few empty milk jugs and letting them sit out for an hour before your dog’s bath. The water will warm up, and then you can use it to fill a watering can during your dog’s bath. Just like your plants, your dog will love its gentle sprinkle!

How Do I Wash My Dog in the Bathtub?

Washing your dog inside is all about preparation—starting with the drain. Since dog hairs are so small, you usually need an extra strainer to make sure they don’t float down your drain and clog your pipes. To keep this from happening, stuff some steel wool into the opening (but not too far down). It will catch every hair from even the furriest of creatures. When you’re done bathing, make sure to fish the steel wool out immediately. If your dog hates the bathtub, try placing a towel at the bottom of the tub before place him inside. It will be much less slippery under your dog’s paws, and that will help keep him calm. Here are some tips from The Dog Trainer on how to get your dog to like the bathtub.

How Do I Clean Dark Stains Under My Dog’s Eyes?

If your dog has black or dark stains from runny eyes, you can usually get rid of them with white vinegar. Rub a little vinegar into the fur with your fingers to remove the spots. Let sit if necessary, then rinse out with water.

When Should I Clip My Dog’s Nails?

The best time to clip your dog’s nails is after he’s had a bath (or has been swimming). The water will soften the hard outer coating of your pet’s nails, making them easier to cut.

How Can I Keep My Dog from Tracking Mud Into the House?

To keep your dog from bringing dirt into the house after he’s been outside, simply wipe his paws with a baby wipe. It’s the quickest and easiest way to remove dirt and mud on his paws and between his pads. If your dog tends to track mud into the house a lot, you can confine that mess to one area by creating an outdoor walkway for him to use before entering. The best bet is filling a path with gravel, which helps keep mud off the pooch’s paws and keeps the house cleaner.

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