Virbac USA

The Art of Bathing

Helpful Tips and Best Practices When Bathing Your Dog

Whether it be for basic cleansing or requires the use of a specially formulated shampoo, bathing is a necessary part of your pet’s health, but can be complicated at times. A general cleansing and grooming shampoo can help maintain or restore your pet’s skin health and coat. Specifically formulated shampoos are also available to help alleviate a variety of skin and hair coat issues. Because there are many differences between human and animal skin, products that are good for our hair and skin may not be good for your pet and should be avoided.  If there are any questions or concerns on what products should be used, your veterinarian can advise you on which types of shampoos, cream rinses, or ear cleansers would be best to use on your pet and how frequently your pet should be bathed. 

Helpful tips when bathing your pet

  • Be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind becoming wet or perhaps stained. Additionally, donning gloves can be helpful with some shampoos where humans may be more sensitive than our pets. 

  • Bathing can be done in a bathtub, ideally with a spray nozzle, hose attachment or shower head. In warm weather, bathing can also be done outdoors in an area with proper drainage.

  • Plastic or metal containers can be helpful for collecting and pouring water if a spray nozzle or hose attachment is unavailable.

  • If desired, you can use a tube of lubricant eye ointment as an added precaution to help protect the eyes. 

  • Use a clock/timer when using a medicated shampoo that requires prolonged contact time. Be sure to begin timing as soon as the pet has been fully incorporated into the hair coat. Apply and lather shampoo at the most affected areas first, to allow those areas the longest contact time with the shampoo. Most shampoos require the pet to soak approximately 10 minutes before rinsing. While waiting, this time can be used to comfort and distract your pet from licking the shampoo with treats, massaging or playing a game, if bathing outside. 

  • If your veterinarian has advised, you can wash their face, but keep your pet from getting the product into their nose, mouth or eyes during shampooing. 

  • When drying, use a hand towel rather than a hair dryer since excess heat can dry out your pets skin and cause additional irritation. 

 

Best practices when bathing

Bathing your pet might seem like a simple concept. However there are some simple but crucial guidelines that will greatly improve the effectiveness and overall outcome when using the recommended shampoos. 

  • For optimal results, medicated shampoos should be applied to a clean wet coat, so start out by thoroughly rinsing your dog with lukewarm water. If your pet is visibly dirty, bathe them with a cleansing shampoo that has been approved by your veterinarian (like ALLERGROOM® Shampoo) to remove any dirt and debris. Unlike cleansing shampoos, medicated shampoos do not typically contain a lot of soaps or detergents and therefore may not thoroughly clean dirty haircoats.

  • For general cleansing, apply shampoo at several points starting at the neck and continuing along the back. If using a medicated shampoo, apply shampoo to the most affected areas first to allow maximum contact time. This may include but is not limited to the groin, armpit, back and paws/toes (be sure to get between each digit or toe). Gently and progressively massage it into the coat and skin all over the pet, using enough shampoo to thoroughly coat the pet.

     

  • After the shampoo has been on the hair coat and skin for the recommended contact time (approximately 10 minutes), thoroughly rinse your pet with clean water. Be sure to use large amounts of clean, lukewarm temperature water when rinsing to avoid any unnecessary irritation. 

    • Some medicated shampoos are recommended to be applied, allowed to sit for approximately 10 minutes, rinsed, and then the process repeated.  Your veterinarian can provide specific instructions tailored to your pet.

  • Allow your pet to shake itself, and then finish drying with a towel. Again, do not use a hair dryer and avoid leaving your pet in cold temperatures while their skin and hair coat are wet. Comb or brush through long-haired pets, being careful on/around sensitive areas.

Do not be alarmed if you notice that your pet’s skin is a bit red immediately after a bath. It typically reflects an increase in skin circulation that often occurs after bathing. If your dog’s skin appears to be consistently worsening with bathing, please contact your veterinarian. While uncommon, allergic reactions to shampoos can occur.

 

Dog Bathing Tips with Virbac Shampoos

About the author

Jose Serrano

Veterinary Technical Product Support