VCA Animal Hospitals

A beginner's guide to bathing your dog

Published: Oct 03, 2012

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If you're a first time dog owner, you probably have a lot to learn. You'll need to figure out the best way to train your dog, plan out healthy walking routes, and speak with your vet about the ins and outs of raising puppies. Part of being a good dog owner is participating in regular dog grooming, which means you'll likely be giving your canine a bath every once in a while. Once you master the art of bathing your canine companion, you'll find it to be an easy task, but until then, here's a guide to help you.

Getting the supplies
First, you'll need to pick up the supplies necessary for bathing your pet. If you have a shallow bathtub in your home, then you can use that to wash your canine. If not, you may need to purchase a portable tub that fits the dog and makes it easy for you to reach him during the bath. You should also ask an expert at one of your nearby vet clinics to help you pick out a pet-appropriate shampoo. Under no circumstances should you use soap or shampoo meant for humans. Fortunately, there is a wide market of pet-safe washes for you to choose from, though your vet may be able to recommend a particular brand that works best.

When to wash
Unlike cats, dogs do not bathe themselves, so it will be up to you to make sure your pet stays clean and healthy. You can set up a regular bathing routine, but how often your dogs needs a bath will depend on his coat and behavior. Canines who spend a lot of time outside will likely need baths more frequently, as will dogs who have long coats. You can perform a simple "smell test" - when your dog starts to noticeably stink, it's probably time to give him a good bath.

Dogs who are afraid of water
Many dogs take to water like fish, but some canines are afraid of water. It may be difficult to get your dog to overcome this innate fear, but you can help ease his anxiety by introducing him to water slowly. Try washing just one part of his body before putting him in a bath, or use treats to reward him before and after bath time.

The bath itself
When it comes time for the bath, make sure you are using warm - but not hot - water. Remove your dog's collar and place him in the bathtub once you have it full. How much water you use will depend on his height, but generally, you should have it filled so that his paws are completely submerged, but his stomach is well above the waterline. Use a detachable shower head or nozzle, or else a durable cup, to wet your dog down. Be sure to cover his eyes with your hand when you pour water on his head. Next, rub the shampoo into his fur, massaging down to his skin. This is also a good time to check for ticks in dogs. After you've soaped him up, once again wash him down with water. Use a towel to dry him off, and be sure to keep him inside until his fur is completely dry, especially if it's cold outside.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.