How to bathe a dog during the winter months

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Tips on keeping your pet warm and comfortable during and after a winter bath

Keeping your dog clean is important year round, but giving your companion a bath during the cold, winter months requires a few special precautions.

While you should avoid bathing your pet too often during cold spells, it might occassionally be necessary to give your dog a bath in winter. During the winter months, salt and grime can collect on Fido’s coat, making a good cleaning essential to maintaining its health and hygiene.

But with frostier temperatures outside, pet parents must step up their efforts to keep their dog warm at bathtime. Here are a few tips that can help ensure the comfort and safety of your pet, both during and after a winter bath.  

Indoor bathing tips

While the setting of a summertime bath might be outside under a hose, winter baths should always happen indoors. Prior to the bath, consider turning up the heat in your home and/or placing a heater in the bathroom (make sure it's off the floor and away from water).
Test the temperature before inviting your dog into the bathtub. Make sure the water is warm but not too hot; you can fill the tub with few inches of warm water to give your pet a warm place to stand.

Tips for shampooing:

  • Use a moisturizing shampoo. Have your vet recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse. Moisturizing or oatmeal shampoos are best during the winter months, as this is a time when pets are more susceptible to dry, flaky skin.
  • Lather quickly. Suds up your pooch quickly in order to reduce its exposure to cold air.
  • Rinse well. After you’ve massaged the shampoo into the coat, make sure to rinse well, leaving behind no trace of soap residue.
  • Consider dry shampoo. If your pet is just stinky, not dirty, consider using a dry shampoo. Waterless shampoo powders and sprays can help to remove odors and oils, but they may not be right for the job of giving your pet a deep cleaning.

After the bath

Keep your newly clean pup warm by towel drying him right away. If you’ve got a long-haired dog, you might need more than one towel and possibly a blow dryer.

If you'll be using a blow dryer to finish the task of drying your dog, be sure to use it on the lowest setting possible. Hold it at least 12-inches away from your pet's coat to keep from burning your dog's skin.

Finally, keep your pet inside until they’re completely dry. 

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