How to Bathe a Dog in Winter

Written by: Richard Rowland

Bathing your dog is never easy, but the task becomes even more difficult during winter. Rather than wash your pup with the garden hose in your backyard, you're forced to get more creative with your bathing methods.

Read on to learn why bathing your dog in winter is important, and the best methods and natural dog grooming products to keep your pup clean while staying safe from the winter weather.

Why Bathing Your Dog in Winter is Important

Two dogs getting ready for a bath with Itch Relief Shampoo

During winter, homeowners often scatter salt and other chemicals along the sidewalk to prevent ice from forming. It's also common for antifreeze to leak from car radiators, leaving residue behind on driveways and sidewalks.

These chemicals collect on your dog's paws and are toxic if ingested. The snow itself can also build up in between the pads of your dog's paws, causing discomfort and even frostbite if not addressed quickly.

The frigid winter temperatures can also be harsh on your dog's skin and fur, leaving them with dry, flaky skin and cracked paw pads. Using moisturizing products during bath time helps heal your dog's skin, so they can feel comfortable all winter long.

6 Steps to Bathe Your Dog in the Winter

A bathed dog with Itch Relief Shampoo and a curry brush

Bathing your dog in winter doesn't need to be a stressful experience (for you or your dog!). By following these six steps, you can get your pup clean while keeping them safe from the cold weather.

1) Make Sure Your Home is Warm

Before you start the bath, it's important that the temperature in your house is warm and comfortable for your dog. It will take a while to dry when they get out of the bath. If it's too cold in your house, the temperature can feel unbearable for your wet pup.

Consider setting your central heating a few degrees warmer while your dog bathes and dries. You could also use a space heater to warm the bathroom and surrounding areas to keep your furry friend comfortable.

2) Prepare a Warm Towel Before the Bath

Getting your dog as dry as possible after the bath is important, especially in winter, so you'll always want to have a towel prepared.

To make your dog feel even more comfortable, warm the towel in the dryer before the bath. With the towel still warm, you can absorb as much water from your dog's fur as possible while also actively warming them.

3) Keep the Water Temperature Consistent

When you take a shower in the winter, you know how refreshing stepping into a warm shower feels. Just like you wouldn't want to bathe in cold water, your dog will also be uncomfortable if the temperature of the water is too cool.

Run the water until it becomes warm and keep the temperature consistent throughout the entire bath.

While you want warm water, it's also vital that the water temperature isn't too hot. The water should be lukewarm, between 90-98 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above this temperature can be too hot for your dog to handle and could potentially burn them.

4) Use a Moisturizing Dog Shampoo

The winter weather is especially harsh on your dog's skin and coat, and bath time can further dry their skin without the proper shampoo or conditioner.

Use a moisturizing dog shampoo that won't remove all your dog's natural oils, keeping their skin protected and healthy. Only Natural Pet Hydrating Shampoo for Dogs is a great option as it's made with natural plant-based ingredients like hemp oil and aloe vera that gently hydrate your dog's skin. It's also specially pH balanced for dogs, and free from harsh chemicals like sulfates and parabens that can have a drying effect.

Make sure to never use human bath products during your dog's bath time. Dogs have a different pH balance than people, and human shampoo can disrupt the acid mantle on your dog's skin, making it dry, flaky, and vulnerable to bacteria.

5) Keep Your Dog Inside to Dry

While a walk or playtime outside may be your go-to drying method during the summer, the winter temperatures are too cold. Sending your dog outside after a bath during the winter can make them more susceptible to hypothermia.

Use a warm towel to soak up as much water as possible from the surface of your dog's fur. If you have a dog with a thick coat, you can try a blow dryer to make the drying process quicker.

Always use the blow dryer on the lowest heat setting possible. Hold the blow dryer a few inches away from your dog's fur and keep it in constant motion to prevent burning your dog. If at any point your dog seems uncomfortable with the blow dryer, stop immediately.

Many dogs need a bathroom break immediately after taking a bath. If that's the case with your dog, supervise them closely to keep their outside time as short as possible. An Arcadia Trail jacket can be a big help!

6) Consider Bath Alternatives

While cleaning the chemicals and packed-in snow from your dog's paws and fur are important, there are other ways to do that without a full bath. If your dog struggles with bath time or their sensitive skin prevents you from bathing them as often as you'd like, consider waterless shampoo, hydrating spray, or dog cleaning wipes.

Waterless shampoo gives you the same benefits of removing dirt and oils from your dog's fur without needing to rinse the shampoo out. These dry shampoos usually come in the form of a spray or foam that you can apply directly to your dog's coat and lather in.

Wet wipes are another great option for cleaning your dog without needing to rinse. These are especially handy for getting into the hard-to-reach areas of your dog's paw pads. They also come in travel-friendly packaging that makes them easy to bring with you on a walk or in the car.

Carrying a dog paw balm with you on walks or keeping one conveniently by the door is another great way to help keep your dog's paws clean. Use the paw balm to remove deicing chemicals and snow from your pup's paw pads, while adding much-needed moisture to prevent irritation.

Keep Your Dog Clean and Healthy This Winter

A dog in a wash basin getting ready for a bath

Bathing your dog in the winter can be tricky, but keeping a consistent grooming routine helps your pup stay clean, healthy, and protected from dangerous winter hazards like chemicals and frostbite.

Check out our selection of organic and natural dog grooming products to find everything you need to make bath time a breeze this winter. From natural shampoos to wet wipes and paw balms, you'll find everything you need to keep your dog clean and healthy all season long!

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