How To Wash A Dog Without A Bath

Whether they love it or loathe it, washing your dog every once in a while should be a vital part of every owner’s grooming routine.

Regular bathing helps keep your dog free of dirt and infection and also ensures they maintain healthy skin and a glowing coat. Dog shampoo can also help remove substances from coats that can cause allergies. These include allergies for humans, such as dried saliva and pollen, or allergies to dogs like dust and dander.

It also does wonders when it comes to deodorising those unwanted doggy odours!

However, there’s no denying it can be a stressful and difficult experience. Whether or not you don’t have a bathtub or they simply won’t go near it, there are ways to give your dog a clean without a bathtub.

You may still need to get everything ready, including their shampoo, towels, combs and possibly even a distraction such as treats or a lick mat. You need to be calm and not raise your voice, either – it can be a frustrating experience, but this doesn’t help anyone.

Bathing your dog is great for many reasons. It gives them a full clean. Suds from the shampoo can be worked into a lather and you can get into all of the folds of skin or under their legs/around their neck easily. It is also a great time to check for any lumps, matted fur or skin issues.

We have a guide on how to give your dog a bath, with some tips and preparation guidelines. But if you don’t have a tub, read on…

preparing to wash your dog

How to wash a dog without giving them a bath

Brushing your dog

This is a step so many of us forget.

But if your dog just has dried mud on their fur, or they have been through some grass which is now all around their legs, a simple brush may suffice.

The brush can get the dirt off their fur effectively, without the need for water. This could potentially give you another week before bath time if you’re concerned you’re bathing them too much.

If they are muddy or wet after a walk, dry them with a towel and then leave them to dry off themselves before brushing.

A portable dog washer

Hate muddy pawprints in the car? Maybe your dog won’t step near a bathtub. A portable dog washer can do the trick.

These can be filled with water, then taken wherever you need them to be. So, keep it in the boot of the car for a post-walk scrub if you wish. Or, under the stairs for a quick scrub when nobody has time for a full bath.

They can use up to 90% less water than a hosepipe, come in many sizes (whether you have one tiny dog or a clan of Labradors) and use a hand pump to build up pressure, so you don’t even need an electrical supply; cheap, cheerful and able to go wherever you are.

Use dog wipes

A dog wipe does what it says on the tin. They are single-use wipes, which often smell fresh, and are perfect for use on your dog’s fur. They won’t dry it out, and the fragrance will be safe around animals.

Dog wipes can be more effective at removing dirt than just plain water, too. It is the same for humans – a makeup wipe can often do a better job than a damp cloth, thanks to the added ingredients.

Dog cleaning wipes are also great for getting into smaller body parts, such as around their underarms or their tail. You can even use wipes to spot clean their paws if this is the only body part that needs attention, and you can buy wipes that are safe for use around a dog’s face if their muzzle needs cleaning.


dog bath tubs

A damp towel

Not got wipes to hand? Not to worry. A damp towel, such as an old facecloth, will do the trick. This is also reusable, washable and can be dampened and dried when needed. You can dry them off afterwards with a dry towel if needed.

Again, it can also be great for cleaning under their belly and in smaller spots too.

An outdoor hosepipe

Dog hates being placed in the bath but loves the garden sprinkler? As long as your water supply isn’t freezing cold, and it is nice and sunny outside, you can use your outdoor hosepipe as a dog shower.

Whether you use a doggy paddling pool as a base or just allow them to stand on the patio, your dog may not even realise that they are indeed having a bath. Use shampoo if they are particularly muddy and smelly, but be sure to rinse it off.

Dry shampoo

Believe it or not, there are some shampoo foams around which can be used without water. While they aren’t a direct substitute for a scrub in the tub, they will still fight bacteria, deodorise and remove dirt so it can be wiped away with a towel or brushed out.

Keeping your dog clean in between baths

As well as the above ways to keep a dog clean without a bath, there are other things you can do too.

Wash their harnesses, collars and coats regularly, at least once per week. This stops any mud, smells or dirt from being passed on to them.

You also need to keep their bedding clean. Most beds nowadays can be placed entirely into the washing machine, or at least have a removable cover. Try washing this at least once per month, and spot cleaning in between.

Keep their toys clean, too. This may sound odd, but if they are chewing on dirty toys, it isn’t going to help their mouth bacteria. And then, when they go to groom themselves, this bacteria is passed on to their fur.