Allergic skin disease is one of the most common skin problems affecting dogs. Bathing is one of the key treatments. To help your dog, it is important to understand the bathing steps to perform them correctly.

Below are six steps to bathing your dog to help control the symptoms associated with skin allergies including itching, redness and infections.

1. Soaking

Always use cool to tepid water to wet the entire hair coat thoroughly before applying any shampoo.  Water temperature is very important when bathing, as warm/hot water may irritate infected/inflamed skin, and cool water is much more soothing.  Allow this to sit for 5+ minutes.  This also helps to re-hydrate the top layer of skin and loosen any crusts and scales.

2. Bathing

If your pet is dirty, use a maintenance shampoo to first remove dirt. Then apply a medicated shampoo and lather lesional areas first then bathe your entire pet unless otherwise indicated.  The shampoo must be in contact with the skin/lesions for at least 10 minutes to get full therapeutic effect.


Rinsing all the shampoo off of your pet is very important because any residual medicated shampoo remaining in contact with their skin may be irritating.  Spend at least 10 minutes rinsing, especially skin fold areas where shampoo may be trapped (armpits, groin, under tail or between toes).

Medicated shampoos and frequent bathing can be drying to the skin, so a conditioner especially designed for animals may be recommended.  These are usually applied after rinsing off the shampoo. If your pet develops secondary bacterial and/or yeast infections then a prescription anti-bacterial and yeast leave-on conditioner may be prescribed.


Towel drying is recommended.  If a blow dryer is used, the warm air may irritate infected/inflamed skin by raising the skin temperature.


Clipping the hair coat on medium to long haired dogs will enhance the effect of topical medications and shampoos.  This will allow the medication to penetrate to the skin instead of getting caught in the hair.