How to Wash a Dog in the Winter

Bathe your dog indoors during cold weather.

Bathe your dog indoors during cold weather.

Grooming duties don’t take a vacation during the winter. Snow, salt and grime cling to your dog’s coat, transforming your clean companion into a muddy mess. Baths are essential even during cold, snowy weather, and owners must take special precautions to keep their canine companions clean and healthy.

Turn up the heat in your home. The biggest concern with bathing your dog in the winter is the possibility of hypothermia, and the warmer it is in your house, the less likely your dog is to get chilled. If your bathroom doesn’t stay warm, place a space heater in the room while you bathe your dog.

Line the bottom of your bathtub with a heavy rubber bath mat. Fill the tub with a few inches of very warm water. Cooler water is acceptable for summer baths, but warmer water during the winter months will ward off chills. Place your hands in the water to test the temperature; if it’s too hot for comfort, add a little cool water to protect your dog’s skin.

Brush your dog before placing her in the bathtub. Brushing your dog before a bath eliminates tangles that may turn into mats, and reduces the amount of loose hair that will clog your drains.

Place one cotton ball in each of the dog’s ears. Push the cotton ball into the opening of the ear canal, using just enough pressure to nestle it securely in the ear. Don’t push it too far into the ear, or you could injure the ear canal.

Set the dog in the bathtub and wet her coat thoroughly with warm water. Squirt a line of soap along the dog’s back, and massage it into the coat with both hands. Rinse away the shampoo and add a small handful of conditioner to the clean coat. Let the conditioner rest for five minutes, and rinse the dog clean. Remove the cotton balls from her ears, and throw them in the garbage.

Wrap your dog in a large, clean towel and lift her from the bathtub. Sit down on the floor with the dog, and rub her vigorously to remove as much water as possible from her coat. Switch to a dry towel when the first becomes saturated to speed the drying process.

Turn a blow dryer to the lowest heat setting and blow-dry the dog. Blow-drying warms and fluffs the coat, keeping the dog warm as she dries. Hold her with one hand and run the blow dryer back and forth along her body, holding the dryer nozzle at least six inches away from her skin to prevent burns.

Keep the dog in the house until she is completely dry. Even a few minutes in cold winter weather is enough to give your dog the chills, so keep her inside for a few hours to ensure she is dry from head to toe.

Items you will need

  • Nonslip bath mat
  • Dog brush
  • Cotton balls
  • Dog shampoo and conditioner
  • Towels
  • Blow dryer


  • If your dog loves being outside, consider bathing her with a dry shampoo. Sprinkle the dry shampoo over the coat, let it sit for a few minutes to soak up odors and oils, and brush it away from a clean, fresh-smelling dog.


  • Never bathe your dog outside in the winter. If your dog is filthy and you can’t bathe her in the house, take her to a do-it-yourself dog wash or professional groomer.

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About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

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