I recently saw a social media post asking if it was important to dry your dog after a bath, a trip to the beach, or a walk in the rain. Many of the replies said that people were letting their dogs shake it off and air dry. I realized that many dog owners are not aware of why it is important to properly dry your dog.
Truthfully, I was not sure of the importance of drying your dog until I spent some time working with a groomer. She was very clear that the dogs had to be dried thoroughly, and not just for aesthetic purposes. There can be some pretty significant side effects if your dog is left to dry on their own (air dry).
I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.
Side Effects from Not Properly Drying Your Dog
Ear Infections – If water is not dried out from your dog’s ear, it can mix with the normal bacteria found in the ear. It can fester and result in an ear infection. A dog who has an ear infection will experience pain, itching, and, if untreated, deafness.
Bacterial infection – When water stays on the dog’s skin it can damage the skin. This can cause a bacterial infection on the skin’s surface. Bacterial infections may cause itching, flaking, rash, and loss of fur.
Hot Spots – When a dog’s coat remains wet, bacteria begins to grow on the skin. While the bacteria alone can result in hot spots, licking at itchy skin caused by the bacteria can also cause hot spots to develop. Hot spots are patches on the skin that can be itchy and flakey. They can cause furr to fall out.
Matting – When a dog’s fur is wet, it is prone to matting. Wet fur, when rubbed, can cause the fur to become tangled. Fur in the armpits and groin will rub together naturally with walking, rolling, and playing. Even scratching can cause matting. The matting also causes moisture to be held close to the skin causing any of the above-mentioned conditions.
The two best ways to dry your dog are towel drying and blow drying. Each has to be done properly to be effective.
Best Methods For drying Your Dog
This post may contain affiliate links. Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you. See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.
Towel drying your dog
Towel drying should be done with an absorbent towel. My personal favorite is a microfiber towel because it soaks up the water from the dog’s fur. You can ring out and continue to use it, allowing for more water to be removed. A terry cloth towel is also a good choice. I would recommend using more than one towel if the dog is really wet. The first towel absorbs the bulk of the moisture and the second actually dries the dog.
NOTE: After towel drying a wet dog, it is best to keep her warm. This is especially true if you are caring for a small, fragile dog, a sick dog, or a senior pup. This will help to avoid respiratory issues, pneumonia, and arthritic flare ups. You can do this by wrapping her in a warm dry towel or blanket or by keeping the room very warm for a while after a bath, swim, or walk in wet weather. If you don’t have access to a warm environment, you can hold your dog close to you and use your own body heat to keep her warm. I have been known to use my jacket or sweater to wrap a cold dog in if they are cold or wet.
Make Sure to Dry Your Dog’s Paws
When you are drying your dog, remember to dry his feet, even between the toes and pads. Water can congregate there too. It’s important to care for your dog’s feet as part of your daily routine.
After each of my dog walks with my clients and my own doggo, I take a minute to dry their paws, legs, and underbelly to be sure they haven’t stepped in any puddles or rolled in wet grass.
How to Dry your dog with a blow dryer:
Using a human hair dryer for a dog is NOT recommended. The dryers are made to use on human skin and hair which is very different from a dog’s skin and fur/hair.
Even when using a dog dryer, it is important that you know how to use it properly. If done incorrectly, you can actually cause the knots and matting you are trying to avoid. These are some of the basic steps you can use to dry your dog.
- Dry the dog with a towel to remove the bulk of the moisture.
- Do not dry your dog’s face or ears with the dryer. Use the towel and ear drying solution to dry these areas. Make sure that the face is well dried with the towel.
- Turn the dryer on and check the air temperature, making sure it is not hot.
- Keep the air moving and not aiming in one place as this will cause the dog’s skin to burn.
- Make sure you get through to the undercoat. Although the top layer may seem dry, moisture may be hiding in the undercoat.
- Brush the dog’s fur as you dry to avoid knots and matting from developing.
This is only a brief overview of the steps. For a more detailed tutorial for drying your dog safely with a dog blow dryer, see this video by Sandollar Aussies.
Enjoying a walk in the rain, a day at the beach, or a good bath should be fun for your dog. Leaving water to fester under the fur or in the ears can turn one day of fun into a long period of discomfort. This can be prevented by taking simple measures to ensure that your dog is properly dried and brushed after being wet.
Do you need supplies to dry your dog? Here are some of my favorite items to keep on hand:
Ear Drying Solution: