Giving a Dog a Bath

Dog owners love to have their favorite pets looking and smelling good. Bathing your dog at home is an excellent way to save money on pet grooming. This is a guide about giving a dog a bath.


April 30, 2012 Flag
Editor's Note: The tip below recommends using tea tree oil for the treatment of fleas. It's been brought to our attention that using significant amounts of tea tree oil may be dangerous to your pet. Here's quote from ASPCA's website:
Tea tree, or Melaleuca alternifolia oil, does have toxic potential, depending on the circumstances of exposure. Clinical effects that may occur following dermal exposure to significant amounts of tea tree oil include loss of coordination, muscle weakness, depression, and possibly even a severe drop in body temperature, collapse and liver damage. If the oil is ingested, potential effects include vomiting, diarrhea and, in some cases, seizures. If inhalation of the oil occurs, aspiration pneumonia is possible. Read more here...
To be on the safe side, be sure to consult with you vet about using any homemade flea treatment.
I have been giving baths to my husband's German Shepherd mix dog, and I use the Tea Tree and Dawn mixed with water to bathe her with. She no longer has the tumors or warts she had on her back, above her tail at the end of her spine. These were huge wart like growths. There are a number of things which might be the reason for this improvement.

No Store Bought Treats

She now gets only human treats. I usually by her a bag of honey turkey, that costs .75 cents at my store. I never give her any human food that is wheat or bread or corn in nature. She eats Pedigree dry dog food, and it seems to be doing well for her. There are other better foods out there, like Authority, Pro Plan, Blue Buffalo.

No Topical Flea Treatments

She takes a Comfortis tablet once a month, or whenever she seems to need it. It seems to work more than a month at a time, although it is supposed to be given once a month.

Dawn and Tea Tree Oil Bath

The unhealthy buildup on her coat is gone. These baths help her skin to breathe and kills any kind of yeast and the tea tree oil is like an antiseptic also.


  • Tea tree oil from Walgreens or pharmacy. It must be in a dark bottle.
  • Dawn dishwashing soap (the blue kind)
  • Plastic cup, large size to mix up the oil and Dawn and water in.


Put a capfull of the tea tree oil in plastic cup. Notice I said capfull and not cup-full. Add to that about 1/4 cup of Dawn diswashing liquid, the blue original kind. No need to be exact. I go by how high it fills the cup. I put about an inch to an inch and a half high of Dawn in the cup. Wiggle the cup around a little to mix the two ingredients. Set aside where it will not be spilled.

After wetting Dutchess' coat very, very, very good with warm water and making sure she is sopping wet, fill up the Solo cup halfway with water that already has the Dawn and oil mixture.

Stir it really well with your fingers, mixing the tea tree oil and the Dawn. Then fill it up the rest of the way. Mix again with fingers. I pour the contents of the plastic cup onto a very wet Dutchess coat and lather into a rich lather.


If the dog's coat does not lather, even though it is sopping wet, make up another bunch and use it until you know it is on the dog's coat deep down to the skin and rubbed in, gently.

Only if the dog is wet, will it lather up really easy. Make sure to get the legs. The stomach is important too. Also don't forget to rinse the stomach and chest area. These areas might not lather up as much as the back but it is still doing a good job for those areas.

I always let the solution stay on Dutchess for about three to five minutes. It really doesn't matter, just try to let it stay on there at least a minute or two. I use this time to praise her and tell her how good she is doing.

When it is rinsing time, don't ever spray the face or facial area with water or get soap or anything on the face. If you get soap on the face, wipe it off with a dripping washrag. Rinsing does not mean going over once with the shower head attachment. Rinsing means adding a little bit of water, and lathering up the soap that is already on her, and then rinsing and rinsing and more rinsing.

This is what gets all the dead and gross stuff off the skin. A well rinsed dog is a happy dog. If the soap stays on the skin, it will turn into muck, attract dirt and cause problems by matting up and not letting the skin get air to breathe.

I then get a nice bath cloth and squeeze it out slightly. I wash Dutchess' face with this and go over the rims of her ears. This is where she needs it the most. I had put some of the bathwater on her ears and her face before and now I just wipe it off with a wash cloth a few times.

I put a towel or my robe on the floor and call her out of the tub. She shakes and we go outside and take pictures. She is smiling in one of them. She knows we will either go on a car ride and get a human grade treat or go to the park and walk around in the warm sun.

Here is Dutchess on the patio in a towel, smiling with the few teeth she has left after 10 years. This is my favorite picture of her!

By Robyn Fed from Tri-Cities, TN

May 6, 20120 found this helpful

Oh how disgusting! Happy to read it though!

I just read what the other comment said...I am going to go and buy that diamond lamb and rice. I am sure it will take a bit for them to get used to but I am glad you posted it.

I can't stand how they process dog food these days, and the factory farms are poisoning everyone with their filthy conditions.

Thanks to you all all the comments!


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May 1, 2011 Flag
12 found this helpful

One of my long-haried chihuahuas is now 6 years old, but right from day one she has hated being bathed. I decided to try taking her in the shower with me and it worked like a charm.

Long Haired Chihuahua in grass

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January 20, 2006 Flag
3 found this helpful

When bathing your dog or cat, dilute the shampoo with water so it is a 1:1 ratio. Then pour the mixture in a clean spray bottle.

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January 21, 2012 Flag
3 found this helpful

I have found that using a shammy (like you use for drying off your car after washing it) is fantastic for drying your pet after her bath. They hold a tremendous amount of water, are much easier to use and better that a bath towel.

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April 27, 2006 Flag
1 found this helpful

I just discovered this by accident and wondered if anyone knew this and why I didn't. Instead of chasing my dog around the laundry tub to give him a bath, I put him in my double sink with the divider between his front and back legs.

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April 11, 2006 Flag
Catherine Forman0 found this helpful

It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it. Two factors make giving your dog a bath a huge undertaking:

I have two dogs. The smaller dog, Miss Bee, weighs about fifty pounds. I can actually pick her up and haul her into the shower with me when she needs a good scrubbing. She doesn't like it, but it can be done in emergency situations -- like the time she rolled in something really gross and stinky at the park.

My big dog, Nerman, is closer to a hundred pounds. He loves water, which is good and bad when I'm trying to give him a bath. During the summer, I tie him out to the back deck and hose him down when it's bath time. And he loves it! His favorite part is trying to bite the hose water, which just cracks me up.

But it is probably easiest to bathe your dog if you have a bathtub (or a large utility sink, for smaller dogs). Fill the tub up a few inches with warm (not hot!) water and get the pup in. A detachable shower nozzle is a delightful luxury when it comes to dog washing -- you can spray what needs spraying with ease. However, you can also just use a big plastic cup to dump water all over your pup.

Like other dog grooming tasks, bathing your big dog is much easier if you have a helper. Firstly, because it makes the scrub go faster; secondly, they can help hold the dog in the tub if your dog wants to make a break for it.

Once your dog is wet, it's shampoo time! For dogs that don't have skin problems, you can use a gentle baby shampoo. However, my dogs always seem to have dry/flaky skin, so I use oatmeal based shampoos. Scrub em up, then rinse em down. Don't get water in their ears; I usually avoid pouring water over my dog's head entirely.

Then it's time for the fun part: trying to keep your dog from shaking while you dry them off. Two towels (one covering the head) are better than one, and this is another time when a helper will be much appreciated with a big dog. If the dog manages to shake, you're going to be cleaning water and hair off the bathroom walls!

Keep in mind that when you bathe your dog, you're probably going to end up soaked yourself. It's just a fact of life! Put on your bathing suit and have fun with it. If you make bath time enjoyable for your dog, it will be less of a chore.

June 27, 20140 found this helpful

I have two yorkies. They both hate to have a bath. I put a bathmat in the tub and a tether. Gracie, the youngest, is real good. Precious fights the whole time. She is elderly and has a limp leg. She can't stand for very long. I just bathe her sitting down and hold her up to bathe the back legs and rear end. I use baby shampoo on their heads and a DOG shampoo from the vet to bathe them. I bathe Precious once a week and Gracie 2 to 3 times a week, per her vet. She has very sensitive skin and is prone to skin infection. It's a chore, but we survive and they smell so good and look so pretty.

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January 21, 20160 found this helpful

April 6, 2006 Flag
0 found this helpful

Do you have a large dog that hates water and baths? I take two leashes, put one around the dog's collar (so he thinks he's going for a walk) hook it up tightly to a fence. Take 2nd leash and wrap it around the underside of his hind legs tightly.

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December 3, 2014 Flag
2 found this helpful

Bathe you dog in the tub? Catch his hair before it clogs the drain. Save the netted bags that potatoes and onions come in. Scrunch one up tightly and stick it down into the drain before letting the water out. All of the dog hair will collect around the top of it. Then, just toss it in the trash.

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July 5, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

How often can I bathe my one year old dog in Dawn?

By ashleyrocks from Dallas, TX

July 6, 20110 found this helpful

Hello, Please make sure you rinse very well. Dawn is very concentrated. Is there a reason you use dawn and not a shampoo that your Veterinarian advises?

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July 6, 20110 found this helpful

October 1, 2013 Flag
1 found this helpful

I heard Dawn was also good for giving pets a bath. I was wondering if I could give my Yorkie a bath using the green Dawn ultra antibacterial soap?

By Kayla

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October 3, 20130 found this helpful


I have worked for a Veterinarian for many years. We have used Dawn to wash animals/birds that have been in contact with an oily substance. Our hospital does not recommend using Dawn to bathe your dog because, it strips all the natural oils out of the hair/fur and it is very concentrated and hard to rinse out of hair/fur. Please use a recommended shampoo for bathing dogs. Good luck

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October 13, 20130 found this helpful

September 13, 2011 Flag
3 found this helpful

Using baby shampoo, even the cheap stuff, as long as it really is sensitive, is perfectly fine for dogs and cats. Cats don't need to be bathed at all unless they get into something that's gotten them extremely dirty. They clean themselves.

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April 19, 2010 Flag

My Lab/Husky mix has thick hair. Once a month during the warm days, I will take plain vinegar and mix it to a sprayer (just like you were spraying your plants) and spray the dog.

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September 23, 2013 Flag
1 found this helpful

What are the benefits to be gained from a beer bath for my dog?

By D Hall

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September 25, 20130 found this helpful

Just when I thought we had read it all. Talk to your Veterinarian.

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July 21, 2005 Flag
0 found this helpful

Tips to help you when giving your dog a bath. Post your ideas.

February 13, 20060 found this helpful

Well, I do my pup in the kitchen sink. She's really tiny and then I don't have to bend. We both get a bath. Then I just give the sink a good scrub. It really is easier on both of us I think, I don't get all frustrated with her trying to climb out of a bath tub and flooding the bathroom and she can see all around since the kitchen sink is shallow. I think she feels safer. My daughter tried the tub and said little Molly was nuts. Then we have a game with catch the dog with the hairdryer. She runs around getting nutty while I try to get just a little warm air on her. Finally we're done and both ready for a nap.

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March 23, 20110 found this helpful
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