How to Bathe an Elderly Dog

Medium
20 - 30 Minutes
6 Months

Introduction

While bathing a younger dog can be challenging, especially while your pup is still learning to behave during bath time, elderly dogs offer a completely different problem. The problem with elderly dogs is that they tend to suffer from a range of medical conditions such as arthritis that can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

With this in mind, you will need to make a few adjustments in the way you bathe your senior pup in order to make the experience as painless as possible. While it might take a little longer to bathe an elderly dog, it is still a vital part of his overall care. 

Dog's Perspective

As your dog ages, it may be harder for him to do things like climb into a bathtub. Yet he still needs his baths and may enjoy a bit of a soak in some nice warm water. The good news is that your vet may be able to prescribe a mild painkiller that will make it easier for him to get in the tub or you may have to physically lift him into the tub. 

The Gentle Tub Method

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Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Pin Brush
Towel
Step
1
The fill
Never drop your elderly pup into a full tub of water, this may cause him to become upset, which could lead to injury. Instead, have your dog in the bathroom while you fill the tub about halfway with nice warm water.
Step
2
Into the tub
Gently lift your dog into the tub or have him step into it if he is big enough. Be sure to talk to him constantly and praise him. Once in the tub, use a shower head on a hose or a large cup to slowly wet every inch of his body.
Step
3
Lather me up
Using a shampoo made exclusively for dogs, gently lather up your pup's skin and coat. If your dog suffers from arthritis, a good massage at this time is sure to help him feel a bit better. You can use a washcloth to clean his face and neck.
Step
4
The rinse job
Using the cup or shower head, rinse your pup thoroughly, avoiding getting water in his eyes and ears. Make sure you get all of the shampoo out so that it doesn't irritate his skin.
Step
5
Remove and dry
Drain the tub and gently lift your dog out of the tub. Place him on a non-slip mat so that you can dry him off using a soft towel. Let him shake himself and then use a boar hair brush to brush out his coat.
Recommend grooming method?

The Plan Ahead Method

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Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Towel
Step
1
Plan the time
Take a look at the calendar and pick a time when you will have time to bathe your elderly dog without interruption. If possible, try to pick a time when your dog is the most active such as first thing in the morning.
Step
2
Get ready
Get everything you need gathered up, including brushes, shampoo, conditioner, a washcloth, and towels.
Step
3
Run the bathwater
Set the water to a lukewarm in temperature and fill the tub about halfway. Bring your pup in, give him a good brushing to calm him down.
Step
4
Ease your dog
Ease your pup gently into the water, talking to him in a soothing voice the whole time to keep him calm. Give him time to get used to the water before adding any extra you might need. Use a cup to wet the rest of his body down.
Step
5
Soap him up
Using a vet-approved shampoo, lather your pup thoroughly and while you are at it, give his joints a gentle massage. Rinse him thoroughly to remove all traces of the shampoo from his skin and hair. Gently ease him out of the tub and towel him dry.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • If your dog has failing eyesight, be sure to let him hear the bathwater running. This will help reduce his stress.
  • If your dog has severe arthritis, talk to your vet about prescribing a mild painkiller to make bath times easier.
  • Keep the water temperature warm as this will make it much more comfortable for your aging dog.
  • This is a good time to massage your pup's joints if he has arthritis.
  • Be sure to use a soft washcloth to clean his face, around his eyes, and under his chin.
  • Always use shampoos and conditioners made for dogs. Those made for humans often contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to dogs.
  • Be sure to use a non-slip rubber mat in the tub to help your pup keep on his feet.
  • Keep talking to your pup in a gentle soothing voice as this will help keep him calmed down.
  • Don't be afraid to give your pup a few of his favorite treats along the way.

Conclusion

Just because your dog is elderly and has arthritis, this does not mean that he doesn't still need to have the occasional bath. The big thing here is to be very gentle in all aspects of giving him a bath, from putting him in the tub to drying him off at the end. Your dog is sure to enjoy the warm water and the fact he is clean. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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