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5 Signs You Are Not Bathing Your Dog Correctly

| Published on January 3, 2024

Reviewed by: Dr. Theresa Fossum

Reviewed by:

Dr. Theresa Fossum

Meet Dr. Theresa (Terry) W. Fossum, DVM, MS. Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS – a remarkable animal lover whose passion for animal care and innovative solutions has left an indelible mark on the veterinary world. As the CEO of both Phoenix Animal Wellness and Epic Veterinary Specialists, she's ensuring dogs and cats receive the highest level of care and compassion.Read more

Bathing your dog is a great way to keep him healthy and clean- but there is a right way to bathe your dog. If you aren’t doing it correctly, you could be making your dog uncomfortable and even cause health problems.

Jorge Bendersky is considered an expert on all things grooming. He is the best selling author of DIY Dog Grooming and has years of experience trimming and fluffing the four-legged children of some of New York City’s elite. The following are Jorge’s signs that you are not bathing your dog correctly. If you notice any of these, consult with a professional groomer or vet on how to remedy the problem and keep your pup happy, healthy, and of course, clean!

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#1 – Ear Infections

If your dog is getting frequent ear infections, this is a sign you are not cleaning the ears properly after they get wet. You should be cleaning them BEFORE AND AFTER the bath. Bendersky explains:

“Cleaning the ears prior the bath will help remove the accumulated dirt, and applying a few drops of ear cleaning solution after the bath will change the PH of the humidity accumulated in the ear canal, preventing bacteria to grow. This process should be followed every time the dog’s head gets wet, including after a walk on the rain, a fun time at the lake, beach or around the sprinklers.”

Be sure to use a pet-safe ear cleanser!

#2 – Dry and/or Itchy Skin

Does your dog scratch a lot, especially after the bath? It could be your shampoo or your rinsing technique. Bendersky reminds us to only use pet shampoo, not human, on our dogs.

“Human shampoo is designed to remove extra oils from our scalp, since we constantly sweat from it. Dogs only sweat through the tongue and their pads. Pet shampoo is formulated to remove the dirt but not the oils, preventing the hair and skin from getting overly dry.”

In addition, be sure you are rinsing your dog completely. Shampoo and/or conditioner residue can make your dog itch. Bendersky says diluting the shampoo can help (use a pitcher or bowl to pre-mix with water) and so does double checking to make sure you rinsed all the shampoo out, especially in heavily-coated breeds.

Related: 7 Best Dog Shower or Hose Bathing Attachments

#3 – Hair Breaks or Dog Gets Dirty Quick

Do you feel like your dog looks dirty just a few days after a bath? Or maybe your long-haired breed constantly has breaking fur. Skipping conditioner may be your problem. Bendersky says:

“Finishing the bath with a conditioner rinse after the shampoo will not only leave the coat shiny, soft and manageable, but it will seal the cuticle of the hair helping it keep the nutrients in and the dirt out. Broken ends are NEVER in style.”

He adds that you can use a leave-in conditioner in addition to, or instead of, regular conditioner if you wish.

Related: 10 Best Dog Towels

#4 – Quicked Nails

Do you clip your dog’s nails after his bath and always seem to have an issue with accidentally cutting the quick? There’s an easy fix for this – clip his nails before his bath. Bendersky explains:

“As the dog gets anxious about the bath, his blood pressure increases pushing the blood inside the dogs nail closer to the tip.”

So a pre-bath trim well decrease this risk.

#5 – Whites Not Getting White

There are a couple reasons your dog might not be getting white. It could be the shampoo and conditioner  – if you have a white dog buy a “bluing shampoo” to get those whites bright. Bendersky says you also may not be leaving the shampoo on long enough. He advises to:

“Start by applying shampoo on the dirtiest areas (legs, paws, privates) and move up to the head last. Rinse in the opposite direction, starting at the head. This way the shampoo will sit longer on the dirtier areas and will reduce any chance of dripping into their eyes.”

When you buy your dog’s grooming products from the iHeartDogs store, you’re meeting the needs of shelter dogs waiting for their forever homes by providing meals and baths!

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