Perhaps it is because only 24% of parents experience no frustrations during bathing. In this article, we will deal with one particular frustration – whether it is better to brush dog before or after bath.
Keep reading to learn why regular brushing is important and why this is an essential step of the dog grooming session.
Should You Brush Your Dog Before or After a Bath?
Should I brush my dog before or after its bath? This is a hot topic in the dog parenting community – some think dogs need brushing before, and others think they need brushing after the bathing process. The truth is – everyone is right.
You should brush your dog both before and after a bath. However, there is one caveat – this rule applies only if brushing your dog is a habit you do no less than three times per week.
Tangled hair makes the brushing painful and uncomfortable. If your pet starts associating the brushing with negative feelings, the entire dog grooming session is doomed.
So, here is a helpful trick – if your dog has matted fur, schedule a session with a professional groomer. Once the groomer deals with the matted coat, you can start your own DIY regular brushing routine.
The Right Brushing Tools for your Dog’s Coat
The slicker brush, pin brush, and long-tooth comb are considered universal dog grooming tools. Although the exact brush should be determined base on your dog’s coat, these tools can be used on all hair types.
Ideally, you can use the slicker brush together with the pin brush. The slicker brush has short and close-set wires that can penetrate into the dog’s coat, detangle mat, and remove dead hair. The pin brush is more of a top coat brush – better suited for styling your dog’s final look.
On the other hand, in dogs with sensitive skin, de-shedding tools and rakes can cause skin irritation. Therefore, before choosing the brushes that go into your dog’s grooming kit, consult with a professional groomer or your veterinarian.
The Right Brushing Frequency for Your Dog
Long-haired dog breeds like Labrador Retrievers or German Shepherds need daily brushing, while short-haired dogs like Beagles or Dalmatians can get away with less frequent brushing. Plus, longer fur means longer brushing sessions.
However, these are general guidelines. Many individual dog factors affect the brushing frequency, including coat type, length, tangling tendency, and sensitive skin issues.
Is it Best to Brush a Dog Wet or Dry?
Breeds with excessively shedding double coats (Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Huskies) can be brushed while shampooed as this helps remove the excess undercoat. However, this rule applies exclusively to double-coated dogs.
For all other breeds, the coat should be completely dry (blow drying speeds up the process) by the time you start with the after-bath brushing.
Sometimes you can even postpone the brushing for the day after the bath. Brushing a wet coat that is saturated with water promotes the formation of tangles and mats.
What are the Correct Steps to Bathing a Dog?
Just because bath time is supposed to be fun for both you and your dog does not mean there are no rules that need to be followed. Here are the basic steps for bathing your dog.
Ease Your Dog into Bath Time
Bathing your dog should not be a wrestling competition. Try gradually acclimating your dog to the bath time concept – start by letting your dog stay in the tub for some time. Once your dog gets familiar with this, you can pour a little warm water into the tub.
At first, keep the bathing as short as possible, and over time, as your dog starts enjoying its bah time, you can proceed with the full dog grooming ritual.
Some dogs enjoy bathing while other dogs get terrified during bath times. If your dog is overly anxious, you can use CBD oil, CBD-infused dog treats, or CBD peanut butter. The CBD will calm your dog and keep it relaxed (as a bonus, the essential oils in the CBD product will promote healthy skin and a shiny coat).
Brush Your Dog Before Bathing Them
Once your dog is ready for pampering, you can start brushing its coat. Many dogs enjoy this part as the brushing makes the pet’s body relaxed and well-massaged. Plus, it helps remove loose hair, excess hair, and all the dirt your dog’s coat has picked up since the last brushing.
When you brush your dog’s coat, you are also helping distribute the natural oils which promote healthy skin and coat. The mechanical massaging improves circulation and ensures faster and healthier shedding – dead hair removal and new hair growth.
If your dog’s hair is tangled, try brushing the mat out. However, if it is causing your dog discomfort, it is better to cut it out. Mats are aesthetically unpleasing and can cause skin conditions.
Make Sure the Water is the Right Temperature
Scalding hot water can burn your dog’s skin, and cold water will make your pet feel uncomfortable. The goal is to get the right water temperature – something between lukewarm and slightly warm.
Always check the water temperature on your forearm before starting to bathe your dog. We recommend using the forearm as the skin in this area is more sensitive than your hands.
Apply Shampoo and Rinse
This is probably the longest part of the bathing process and is riddled with potential risks. Many dogs dislike having their heads handled and washed, which is why we recommend dealing with your dog’s face at the end of the session.
Protecting your Dog’s Eyes
Getting soap inside the eyes is uncomfortable or even painful. To protect the eyes during dog bathing, you can apply a thick layer of mineral oil around each eye. The mineral oil will keep both the soap and water at bay.
Protecting your Dog’s Ears
Your dog’s ears are sensitive and need special attention during the grooming process. Bathing your dog without letting water get inside the ears is impossible. The trapped moisture is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Therefore, to prevent ear infections, you can place cotton balls in your pet’s ear canals.
The Right Pet Shampoo for your Dog’s Hair
The human skin has a different pH balance, and shampoos formulated for humans can disrupt the protective acid mantle (and remove the natural oils) of the dog’s skin, thus causing various skin problems. Human shampoos are not the only product that can cause skin problems – low-quality shampoos for dogs can be problematic too.
You must invest in a high-quality shampoo specific for your dog’s coat type. The right shampoo will keep your pet’s coat moisturized and prevent dandruff.
Medicated Dog Shampoos for Sensitive Skin
If your dog has sensitive skin, you need to use a mild (preferably oat-based pet shampoo), or if it has a specific skin condition (for example, hot spots or pyoderma), the vet will recommend medicated shampoos. Dogs prescribed medicated shampoos will need more frequent bathing.
Thorough Rinsing (Skin Irritation Prevention)
Leaving shampoo residue in your dog’s hair is a recipe for disaster – it causes skin irritation and predisposes your pet to skin conditions.
In dogs with longer fur, thorough rinsing will take time, but it is critical for a healthy coat. On the other hand, in dogs with short coats, the rinsing is straightforward.
Dry Off Your Dog
Drying your dog is the bath time finale. Obviously, this task is longer and more demanding in dogs with long hair coats than in short-haired dogs.
Drying your pet includes several steps – all of them are necessary for dogs with long coats, while dogs with shorter coats can skip a step or two.
Step 1 – Drip Dry your Dog
Once bath time is over, you can let your dog drip in the bath for a couple of moments. Short-haired dogs can be allowed to air dry. However, in such cases, you should be prepared for vigorous dog shakes. The shakes will eliminate the water trapped within the coat and the extra hair that got loose during the bathing.
Step 2 – Towel Dry your Dog
The towel dry is helpful for all dogs but mandatory for dogs with longer fur. The towels will absorb the moisture and make the next step easier. Plus, the towel’s fabric can help remove loose hair.
Step 3 – Blow Dry, your Dog
Blow drying is the last step. To blow-dry your dog, you can use your regular hair dryer (set on low heat) or a special pet blow dryer. If you practice frequent bathing, the specialized pet blow dryer is exactly what you need.
On the other hand, if your dog does not need regular grooming, the regular hair dryer will do the trick – just make sure you hold the device at a safe distance (you do not want to burn your pet’s skin).
Brush Your Dog Again
Once your dog is completely dry (as mentioned, double-coated dogs are an exception), it is time for the second brush. In addition to removing loose hair, this second brushing will help shape your dog’s hair and prepare it for trimming. Even if your pet does need a trim, the second brush will style its hair.
Our Final Thoughts
Who said that bath time could not equal fun time? With time and practice, both you and your dog will start enjoying every step of the grooming session.
And if things are overwhelming at times, you can always schedule an appointment with your favorite professional groomer.