Homemade No-Water Baths for Dogs

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If Fido needs a wash but just won't cooperate around water, you may be wondering if there's a viable alternative to agua. There are other reasons, besides having a hydrophobic pooch, why you might want to skip the water: a good soaking can be rough on elderly dogs, the weather is too cold and your dog is prone to getting the chills, or you've got unexpected guests arriving in a few minutes. Whatever the reason to avoid H2O, several options exist to get your pal squeaky clean, quickly and easily.

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Baby Wipes

Sometimes nothing beats a good, old-fashioned baby wipe for getting your furbaby clean in a hurry. Safe, gentle and effective, it's much easier to sneak up on a water-hating pooch with these than with a hose or plunk in the tub.


Customize your baby wipe experience by soaking them in a plastic bag with additional treatments you might need, like all-natural flea and tick repellent. You can make homemade wipes by repurposing cloths or paper towels and soaking them in witch hazel extract or diluted apple cider vinegar.

Be cautious with witch hazel. If you can find it in a non-alcohol vegetable glycerine base, no problem, but most has isopropyl alcohol -- a poison. This evaporates quickly and completely, but your pup must not be allowed to lick it. It can stick around too long on longer-haired pooches and get absorbed through the skin. It's best to avoid isopropyl products.


Cornstarch, Baking Soda and Salt

It's easy to make dry shampoo with kitchen or bath ingredients. Mix 1 cup cornstarch with 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup non-iodized salt (sea salt, or you can buy it in big, cheap sacks as kosher or pickling salt). Shake the mixture well, then take your furry friend outside and work it down through his fur. Hang out for five minutes or so, then treat him to a very good brushing and combing.

Some recipes include a few drops of eucalyptus, lavender or rosemary essential oil to scare off fleas and ticks. These are fine if you only use literally 1 to 3 drops. Bushels of plant matter go into making each tiny bottle of these oils -- large amounts are seriously poisonous.



Oatmeal isn't just for breakfast, especially if your pet has skin problems. Cook it up so it's very soupy, let it cool, and smear it all the way deep, down through his fur, up to his skin. The hard part is letting it dry without your buddy eating it all up. If you manage to succeed, brush the dried flakes out and they'll take the dirt with them.

Baby Powder

Drench your water-hating pup in baby powder, then thoroughly groom the powder out, like a dry shampoo. The talc is supposed to cling to the dirt and escort it off your pet.
Another option is a few drops of baby oil on a soft cloth or grooming chamois ("shammy"). Pet your pup down with the oily cloth, and this should take out dirt and dander, but beware if your dog has oily skin to begin with. A drawback of this method is that residual baby oil can attract more dirt onto your pet after his grooming session.


By Angela Libal


The Whole Dog Journal: Herbal Remedies for Your Dog's Chronic Skin Inflammation
Dog Tipper: Grooming Your Dog with Dry Dog Shampoo
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Groom Your Dog
Dog Grooming Training: How to Wash Your Dog Without Water?

About the Author
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.