You don't have to ban winter baths, but to keep Fido safe and comfortable, you should stick to indoor-only baths and make sure he's completely dry and warm before he's allowed outside again.
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Keeping Him Warm
While using a hose outdoors might be a great way to clean up Fido during the summer, winter baths should be done indoors, preferably in a small room like the bathroom.
Before you start the actual washing process, make sure the room is warm. If you have a heater or towel dryer in the room, turn it on for a few minutes before the bath. If not, consider moving a small electric heater into the room -- but make sure you keep it off the floor and away from water.
Other things you can do to keep doggy warm:
- Close all windows and the door to prevent air drafts.
- Place towels on the floor to absorb water and so Fido doesn't have to stand on the cold floor after the bath.
- Rather than using just the shower, fill the bathtub with a few inches of warm water so doggy is standing in something warm at all times.
When washing doggy during cold winter days, remember to:
- Apply shampoo and lather as quickly as possible to avoid being exposed to cold air as little as possible.
- You can use the bath water for the wash, then turn on the shower if you have a detachable shower head so you can bring the hose down to your dog's level for a warm rinse.
- Make sure you rinse well so there's no shampoo or soap residue on the hair.
Drying Him Off
As soon as you're done bathing your dog, take him out of the bathtub and use a big fluffy towel to dry him off. If you have a long-haired dog, switch to a second towel once the first one is soaked. Rub or blot dry -- to avoid tangling the hair -- until your dog is as dry as possible.
If he's still very wet, use a blow-dryer -- on the lowest warm setting available -- to finish up the job.
If your dog is not really dirty and you just want to bathe him to remove some of his "doggy odor," consider using a dry shampoo. This is usually either a powder or a spray you place on the skin, rub and then brush off. Although dry shampoo will not clean as well as regular liquid shampoo, it will still remove excessive oils from the hair, as well as leave your dog smelling great.
Don't let your dog outside in winter until he's completely dry to prevent the risk of hypothermia and illness.