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How To Dry A Dog After Bathing or Swimming

Regular bathing is an important responsibility for pet parents. Some dogs require frequent baths, while others may only need a few baths a year. Either way, you'll need to know  how to dry a dog with a towel or hair dryer.

Baths not only help keep the skin and coat in excellent condition, but they also remove loose fur, reduce shedding, remove dander and dirt and reduce odor. Depending on your dog's coat type and skin condition, drying him may be the biggest challenge of the bathing process.

It may sound like common sense to you, but there is more than one way to dry a dog. It can be daunting, especially if your pooch has long or thick fur. There are two simple ways to dry a dog: with a dog towel or a pet dryer (or human hairdryer). I'll discuss both options in this detailed guide.

How To Dry A Dog After Bathing or Swimming

how to dry a dog

I suggest starting with a towel and gradually introducing your pet to a pet dryer or human hairdryer. Most dogs will be timid of the noise made by a dryer, which will end up making your grooming session harder.

Towel Drying Your Dog

Towel drying your dog is extremely helpful when removing extra moisture from a pup's coat. While it sounds simple, most owners don't actually realize the best way to towel dry a dog.

Some owners, for example, vigorously massage their dog's coat with the towel. It looks like they're trying to scrub the dog dry. However, if your dog has long and/or thick fur, this approach may result in tangles and matting.

So, let's look at the proper way for how to dry a dog after bathing or swimming.

I recommend a microfiber towel, because they can absorb a lot of water and won't drip on your floors. Absorption is the main factor when it comes to drying dogs after a bath, because regular “human” towels will not work for many breeds (or you'll need to use multiple towels).

When learning how to dry a dog, you'll need to work front to back and top to bottom. You want to start with his head and work your way toward his back end. You should also work from top to bottom, meaning you should start drying your dog's back and work your way down toward your dog's belly and then legs.

Be gentle around your pet's face, and be sure to dry his ears. You should never spray water directly into the ears, but some water is sure to get in. Wipe out each ear thoroughly, as water in the ear could lead to infection.

You also need to dry each paw. A lot of water accumulates underneath your pet's paws as he's standing in the bath tub. If you don't dry your pup's paws, you'll have wet paw tracks all through your home.

If you have a large dog, especially one with a thick or double coat, you may need more than one towel. When the first becomes saturated, you'll need to switch to another towel or your efforts will be in vain.

drying dog with hair dryerDrying Your Dog with A Hairdryer

Towel drying a dog is more work, but it's actually quicker than using a hairdryer. If you have the time, using a dryer is more effective and may be easier for you and your pup.

When using a “human” hairdryer to blow dry a dog, you must be particularly careful. Set the hairdryer to the lowest heat setting (coolest temperature) and keep it at least a a couple of inches away from your dog at all times.

In my video above, I demonstrate how to dry your dog with a human hairdryer because most people already have one at home. Dog-specific pet dryers, while a safer option, are much more expensive.

If you're going to be drying your dog at home a lot, I definitely recommend buying a dryer that is specifically made for dogs. Pet dryers are much safer, easier and far quicker, especially for breeds with long and thick hair. Plus, they only blow room temperature air, so you won't have to worry about them getting too hot.

As I mentioned, your dog will likely be afraid of the noise that a dryer makes. It's important that you get your pup acclimated to the pet dryer very gradually. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Turn the dryer on and let the dog get used to the sound in a neutral area (i.e. not in the grooming area, like bathroom).
  2. Once the dog is used to the noise of the hairdryer in a neutral area, bring him into the designated grooming area.
  3. Let the dog listen to the sound of dryer in the grooming area until he becomes comfortable with the sound.

Now that you're ready to begin drying your dog, take a second and think of how you dry your own hair. You move the dryer back and forth quickly so your scalp doesn't get burned, right?

You're going to do the same thing for your pet. Place the tip of the dryer at least 2 inches away from the dog's skin. Make short up-and-down and side-to-side strokes, like you would do with your own hair.

Remember that your dog cannot tell you when the dryer feels too hot on his skin, so you need to continuously move it around to avoid burning the dog. Always remember the 2 inch rule mentioned above, and continuously monitor your dog to ensure that he's not becoming uncomfortable.

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Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.