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Giving a Dog a Bath

Category Grooming
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.


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April 30, 2012
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

Comment Was this helpful? 4
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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12 found this helpful
May 1, 2011

One of my long-haried chihuahuas is now 6 years old, but right from day one she has hated being bathed. I normally use a detachable rubber shower hose so I can wash the dogs in the laundry tub, but with her, it took two of us to hold her in the tub; she was like a demented wild cat, it was so stressful for her and me.

I decided to try taking her in the shower with me and it worked like a charm. I hold her in my arms with the water running gently. Having a very long coat, it takes a bit to wash all her parts. I can turn her over on her back and wash her tummy properly, around her genital area and tail and even have the water running on her head. I think she feels safe and secure because I'm holding her firmly. No doubt it would be a funny sight, but as long as she's not stressed, I'm happy. She then stands on the shower floor and shakes on command whilst I get out and grab the towels. It would be impossible with a bigger dog, but for us it's magic!

She also lays on my legs while I finish drying her with the blow dryer on cool temperature. She is very pampered, but I love her.

By Lois from Qld, Australia

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May 3, 20110 found this helpful

I used to do a similar thing with a little poodle I had. I just took her in the shower with me and washed her. She still didn't like being bathed, but it was certainly easier.

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3 found this helpful
January 21, 2012

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.


3 found this helpful
January 20, 2006

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.


2 found this helpful
December 3, 2014

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.


1 found this helpful
April 27, 2006

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.


April 19, 2010

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.


3 found this helpful
September 13, 2011

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.


Catherine Forman0 found this helpful
April 11, 2006

wet white dog

Tips for giving your a dog a bath. It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it. Two factors make giving your dog a bath a huge undertaking: The size of your dog and how much your dog likes (or hates) water.


0 found this helpful
April 6, 2006

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.


1 found this helpful
June 23, 2010

To help keep a dog secure during a bath, place a yoga mat in the tub before bathing the dog. This will provide a non-slip surface that will hold the dog in place during the bath.


May 20, 20090 found this helpful

If your dog hates a bath like mine do, I give them a sponge bath. Fill the sink with water and wet them with their own face cloths. Soap them up and rinse them off. Towel dry them and they are now clean once again.


November 14, 20040 found this helpful

When bathing your pets, do it outside on the lawn or near plants that need watering.


October 19, 2011

Most dogs that have itchy skin, have yeast as at least a part of the problem. Oatmeal is a grain. Yeast feeds on grain. Tea Tree oil shampoo would be a better solution.


August 12, 2011

Bathing your dog indoors can be very messy. I hate cleaning the dog hair out of the bath tub when they are bathed in the house. I prefer to do it outside when the weather permits.



Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

1 found this helpful
July 5, 2011

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

By ashleyrocks from Dallas, TX

Answer Was this helpful? 1
July 5, 20110 found this helpful

Because Dawn will strip the natural oils from the skin and coat, I wouldn't use it more often than twice a month. Even then, if you notice alot of flaking or itching (dry skin), cut back to once per month. It IS good for fleas that are on the dog, but there is no residual effect. If you want to use Dawn more ofen than once per month, it might not be a bad idea to get "doggie conditioner" to put on after the bath to keep from overdrying out the skin and coat.

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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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1 found this helpful
October 1, 2013

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

Answer Was this helpful? 1
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

No! Too harsh!

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September 23, 20131 found this helpful

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

By D Hall

Answer Was this helpful? 1
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, 20050 found this helpful

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

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January 13, 20060 found this helpful

Great way to apply shampoo or conditioner is to use a spray bottle. 50/50 of water and shampoo or conditioner and then simply spritz it on and lather. Much more economical (You waste less shampoo then drizzling down the back) and it's easier to work down to the skin for double coated breeds.

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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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November 4, 20140 found this helpful

How often should I bathe my 5 month old Pit puppy who has dry itchy skin?

By Nickie

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November 6, 20140 found this helpful

Your puppy may have a food allergy. Try one of the foods for allergic dogs. There are a lot of posts on this site about itchy dogs. Do a search. It can take some time to try and find the cause of the itching. Stick with it and you will figure it out.

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0 found this helpful
October 26, 2010

I have a 2 year old German Shepherd Siberian Husky mix. I bought him from a family and he used to be abused. He doesn't have any problems with that but, he is deathly scared of baths.

He likes to play, but I can't find the right kind of toys for him. I have tried bones and stuffed animals, but he doesn't like either one. Any advise anyone can give me would be useful.

By Alichia from Ogden, UT

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October 29, 20100 found this helpful

Good advice from the previous post. I also recommend teach your dog to "tug". It's a natural instinct and he'll catch on quickly. Our rescue did not know how to tug, but now it's her main play activity. It is encouraged in agility training because it builds front end muscle for jumps, etc. It also gets them fired up with the "drive" required to do the obstacle courses. A big dog requires a big, strong tug, but sometimes different things are not comfortable in their mouth. I started with a soft furry one I made. Wiggle it around on the floor in front of the dog, he'll probably naturally give chase and then grab it. That's when you tug gently on it, even put your hand on his chest to encourage backward movement. Keep trying, it will happen. I have no good advice on the bath, hopefully someone else will post suggestions.

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October 29, 20100 found this helpful

Don't know if this will work for you, but this sure worked for our scaredy cat. We've had our dog since she was 3 months old (she's 4 now) and she was always terrified of baths, just the word would send her cowering! She's never been abused, but she acts like it.

This summer I got one of those things (at Walmart) that is a hand-held scrubber that you can put the soap inside (I water it down). It has rubber bumps on it, and when you push the button, the soap comes out onto the dog and you can massage them as you bathe them. They say to just use it in the direction the hair grows, but I used it to rub her all over back and forth.

Well, as usual, she trembled and peed all over herself in the tub as if I was going to beat her - at first. By halfway through the bath, she was so relaxed and happy she was nearly asleep! Ever since then, she still cowers if I say the word, but she isn't afraid when I give her a bath. I even caught her in the driveway one hot day after she'd been playing outside and gave her a bath with the hose and scrubber. She sat there with her eyes closed, enjoying every minute of it!

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July 5, 20051 found this helpful

Tips for bathing your dog. Post your ideas here!

Vinegar Bath

After bathing your pets. Towel dry and spray white vinegar on them. It will not hurt them. It will help prevent bug bites and also give their coat a healthy shine.

By Sandi (07/05/2005)

Self Service Dog Washing Stations

Depending on where you live, there may be self dog washing stations around you. For $8, I was able to wash my dog, and they provide several types of shampoo, conditioners, ear cleaner, towels, cotton balls, nail clippers, quick stop, brushes and combs. I live in a small apartment, so I cannot wash my dog outside. The one time I tried to wash her in the tub, she scratched the sides. Now I no longer have to scrub the tub everytime I wash the dog, and the tub at the dog wash is my height, so no back pain. (07/06/2005)

By zoombit

Answer Was this helpful? 1
November 9, 20100 found this helpful

How would you like to have to smell vinegar on you after you take a bath? It smells no better to them than it does to you!

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November 10, 20100 found this helpful

Once the dog drys, you don't smell the vinegar.

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0 found this helpful
April 24, 2010

My dog rolled in poo today. After 3 scrub downs with dog shampoo and another scrub down with my clarifying shampoo, he still stinks. How do I get the smell off?

By Ashley from Kansas City, MO

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April 25, 20100 found this helpful

Once when our pooch got skunked and nothing worked, the vet's office suggested we wash her with warm water and baking soda as gritssisters suggested and then take diluted downy fabric softener and put on her and let sit for 15 minutes (it was almost impossible to get her to sit for that long but she lasted at least 10) then rinse. It did kill the odor and she was a breeze to comb out. Wondering if it may work for this too.

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April 26, 20100 found this helpful

Would tomato juice work? They say it removes skunk odor. Good luck!

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May 30, 20110 found this helpful

What is the best way to bathe our new Corgi/Beagle mix named Ruby? How often? Is it OK to mist with lavender? Rub with lavender? Rub with rosemary?


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June 2, 20110 found this helpful

I have a 4 year old dachshund that I was bathing about every 2 weeks. My vet said "don't do that". He said don't bath him unless he stinks. Too much bathing dries out their skin. But now he's not used to being bathed and he's smart enough to know when I start to bath him that he runs and hides under the bed. So now I take him to a groomer every now and them to get him bathed when they files his nails. He comes out smelling good and they spray him with something; I think it may be lavender but I'm not sure.

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