6 Easy Steps to Give Your Dog a Therapy Bath

Though things like head lice and dandruff are unpleasant, there are special shampoos that exist to help soothe and cure your scalps to return them back to normal. Just like with humans, dogs sometimes need something medicated for a specific issue they are facing with their skin and coat. This can be caused by any number of reasons, ranging from dry flakey skin to a full-blown ringworm infection, which can cause inflammation and for fur to fall out. 

When dogs are in need of a therapy bath with a medicated shampoo, it’s crucial to make sure you know how to use it the proper way to bring the best impact and relief to your dog’s discomfort. 

For whatever reason you find yourself needing to give your dog a therapy/medicated bath, follow my 6 simple steps below to get it done.

1. Gather all your supplies

Before you even start with your furry friend, the supplies you will need to have for a successful therapy bath are: 

  • Your dog’s medicated shampoo
  • 2 large terry towels
  • Tub
  • Treats
  • Scrubby
  • Egg timer 
  • High velocity pet dryer

If you have other bathing tools, get those set up too. One of the most frustrating things is having to hold a slippery wet dog still while you attempt to get your dryer plugged in! So go through your list, check it twice, and then get your dog involved.

Some dogs are too stressed in the bath for treats (especially if their skin is itchy or painful), but for other dogs, a treat in the bath can be the perfect distraction. See my article, “10 Tips for Stress-Free Grooming” for more information on how to make bath time as smooth as possible for everyone involved.

2. Wet the dog thoroughly with warm water 

Wag! explains that too hot of water can even make the skin hurt or become more inflamed for your poor canine friend. So, be sure to only use warm water because hot water has the potential to make things even worse

If your dog has a thicker coarser coat, be sure to use enough water to fully saturate the fur. You want to make sure the medicated product is able to reach every nook and cranny of your dog’s coat and skin which is harder to do without enough water to help. Gently massage the coat as you wet your canine friend to further help water soak in.

3. Apply the medicated shampoo (avoiding sensitive areas) 

Be sure the shampoo is reaching the entire dog, including the tail, the tummy, and the legs. Always avoid direct contact with eyes, nose, mouth, genitals, and any sensitive or raw place on your pet that they might be suffering from. 

The last thing you want to do is aggravate the condition that is causing the therapy/medicated bath in the first place, that’s the opposite of what you’re trying to do

Consult with your veterinarian or a professional groomer if you still aren’t sure where to apply the shampoo or if you have further questions.

4. Lather from head to tail and leave on for at least 10 minutes 

Take time to really work the shampoo through your dog’s fur and use the least amount of pressure as possible. You could use a rubber brush to help create a lather depending on the length of your dog’s coat. 

Most medicated shampoos require being left in for at least 10 minutes, so be sure to follow the product directions and use a timer when lathering up your dog. NY Vet Practice explains this is because most medicated shampoos need to sit and react with your dogs skin and coat for a certain amount of time to activate their healing properties

Consider a solution, like my The K9K BathTime Bath Machine, to achieve this with your dog’s shampoo!  This machine will allow the shampoo to stay on longer, saves the amount of shampoo used, and makes the entire process much easier for you and your dog. 

See my post What If There Was An Easier Way to Bathe Your Dog? to learn more about how my bath machine allows for TRIPLE washing and endless time saved!

5. Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear

Similar to being sure to completely soak your pet in step 2, it is important to make sure you use enough water to get your whole dog rinsed. Especially since some medicated shampoos can dry the skin, it is extremely important for the health of your pet’s skin and coat that you leave no soap behind. A good rinsing will likely take as long, if not longer, than the shampooing

Also, you should be using fresh clean water, not the bathwater, to rinse your friend. This is because the medicated shampoo, as well as dirt and other irritants, has likely gotten into the water already and you don’t want to put that back onto a clean coat. 

If in doubt, rinse again!

6. Towel dry then fluff with high-velocity pet dryer

Towel drying is always the first step to a dry dog. Be sure to use care and pat your dog with the towel, don’t rub. You don’t want to spread the infection further or aggravate the freshly clean skin.

The longer and thicker the coat, the more you need a high-velocity (HV) pet dryer because:

  • It helps to keep wet fur from potentially hanging onto water that can activate odor
  • The dryer can also help the de-shedding process greatly
  • Dries the hair thoroughly and faster than a human hairdryer 
  • Helps dislodge tangles and mats 

All types of coats can benefit from a HV dryer. 

How often should you give a medicated bath?

VCA Hospitals mention that, for most cases, medicated baths are recommended to be given on a weekly basis to ensure relief and healing are taking place on your dog’s skin. They add that you should begin to see your pet’s issues improve after the first two or so weeks. 

However, some more severe skin ailments can require more frequency and require daily baths to provide quicker relief and treatment. My advice is to take this guideline to your vet and give a medicated bath to your particular dog as often as you and your vet agree upon for his/her specific condition.

For whatever uncomfortable condition your dog is facing, now you know exactly what to do with a prescribed or recommended medicated shampoo. If you follow the directions on the bottle, as well as this guide, your dog should start feeling better in no time!

Find my bathing machine HERE to help you give the best therapy bath you can.

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