Washing Your Dog’s Face: How to Do it the Right Way

Washing Your Dog’s Face: How to Do it the Right Way


Keeping your dog clean can feel like a full-time job sometimes. No matter how careful you are about keeping your pooch away from messes, it can feel like they’re constantly getting covered in something or other. While the occasional wipe down with a good towel can be ideal when you’re in a rush, sometimes your dog will need a full bath to get rid of unwanted dirt and grime.

Learning how to bathe your pup correctly can be a challenge for beginners, of course. One of the toughest challenges for most pet parents is simply figuring out how to safely wash your dog’s face, without causing any temper tantrums.

Here are some quick tips to effectively clean your dog’s face, if you’re worried about getting water and soap in your pup’s eyes, nose, or ears.

Washing Your Dog’s Face: The Basics

First, it’s worth noting your dog won’t need a full face wash every time he or she goes outside. For the majority of messes, you can simply use some cleaning wipes to avoid the excess stress. When you do need to put your pooch in the bath, remember that the worst thing you can do is simply pour water over their head. Your dog isn’t likely to take kindly to this approach.

Instead of just dumping water on your pet, and risking getting water into their eyes, ears, or nose, dip a small cloth into some warm water and gently do your best to gradually wipe away any marks. You should always keep your dog’s face out of the water as much as you can. Excess water or soap in your dog’s ears can cause infections, while water in the nose or mouth can make it hard to breathe.

Before you even get your dog’s face wet, use your fingers to gently work through any tangles, and part the hair from clumps of dirt or mud. This will make it easier for the water to penetrate and get rid of any muck. You can usually avoid using too much shampoo or conditioner on your dog’s face too, as the skin there is usually quite sensitive.

Gently Removing Dirt and Stains

If your dog has managed to get into quite the significant mess, then you might need to work a little harder on getting rid of any excess dirt. Using your small flannel or towel, hold your dogs head still gently, and work your way down over the face from under your dog’s eyes. Don’t forget to untangle any knots and messes under your dog’s chin too.

When you’re ready to start washing around your pup’s ears and head, use a flannel that won’t pour water into your dog’s eyes. Be careful not to scrub your dog’s face too much. If you find the dirt isn’t coming away as well as you’d hope, you can use a little shampoo diluted with water to help remove as much loose dirt and debris as possible.

Be prepared to spend quite some time on wiping dirty areas several times until stains and dirt begin to loosen up. A detangling spray or shampoo can be particularly useful if the dirt is sticking your dog’s fur together in clumps. If you can’t get rid of all the mess at once with one bath, you might need to give your dog some time to relax in between bathing sessions.

If you need to wash your dog’s face several times, you don’t necessarily need to put him back into the bath. Use your cloth to occasionally go back a few times over the course of the day and try removing more of the dirt.

Quick Tips for Making Face Washing Simpler

Ultimately, practice makes perfect when it comes to any aspect of looking after your dog. Try to avoid using any products which can easily shred and disintegrate, like napkins or paper towels, as this will just make your job harder, and leave bits of mess in your dog’s coat.

Pre-moistened wipes can save you some effort, but you might need to double check the ingredients in the solution are suitable for your dog’s skin first. Don’t use any wipes you would use for things like makeup removal. A few other quick tips to keep in mind include:

  • Be gentle, but firm: Avoid using too much force. It’s better to deliver several soft strokes than it is to use more intimidating swipes. If a clump is stubborn, use a little more water to help break up the dirt.
  • Reassure your pup: If the dirt on your dog’s face is particularly bad, having it washed away might feel worrying to your dog. Uttering a few soothing words can help to put your dog’s mind at rest and reduce the risk of panic attacks.
  • Be cautious with your dog’s eyes: Be extremely gentle when cleaning your dog’s eyes, and don’t use any shampoo or soap that might hurt your dog’s vision. Sometimes, it can even be helpful to stick to moist cotton balls, rather than using sponges which can hold too much water and end up frightening your dog.
  • Never direct the shower head at your dog’s face: No matter how gentle you think the spray of water is, this is an absolute no-go. You can’t fully control the spray when you direct a shower head towards your dog. Being cautious and using a towel or wipe instead will help to protect your dog’s ears, eyes, and nose.
  • Find the right shampoo and conditioner: If you are using shampoo, specifically on your dog’s head, make sure you’re using the right product for their kind of fur. You can find plenty of dedicated shampoos specifically intended for certain breeds and skin types.

Face Washing Can be Easier than You Think

As you wash your dog’s face, gently look for any signs of injuries or problems which you think might need the attention of a vet. Too much gunk around the eyes and discharge in the ears could be issues that need further investigation.

Although washing your dog’s face can seem like an intimidating concept, it’s often much easier than it seems with the right directions to guide you. Over time, you’ll become more confident with this task, and you’ll find you get through it much faster.