Don’t Air Dry Your Dog, the Shocking Reasons Why

It is best not to air dry your dog because:

  1. Their coat will be heavy even after shaking off lots of water
  2. If they have thick or long hair, it can cause matting and skin infections
  3. They may roll in grass or something stinky to try and dry themselves
  4. Air drying is slow and being wet during that time can make them sick

One of the most common questions about wet dogs is whether or not you should let them air dry, or if you should dry them off yourself. Most dogs take off running the moment their bath or swim is finished, so some owners tend to let them just run the water off.  Let’s explore the air dry question a bit more.

Your dog will get wet for a variety of reasons. It may get caught in the rain, jump in water, or be at the end of a bath. When they get wet, they are generally soaked through until they have a really good shake.


Use a Towel. Only a Hairdryer If You Are a Professional

A dog’s coat can be very heavy even after they’ve shaken a lot of water off. This is especially so for long haired dogs. For this reason, it’s best to dry your dog off with a towel.You need to get your dog mostly dry, before letting them sit in a warm area.

Unless you’re a professional dog groomer who is proficient at using a hairdryer, I suggest that using a towel is best.

The heat of a hairdryer may be too much for your dog, especially if you move it too slowly.

Some hairdryers are very loud, so unless you’ve trained your dog to be calm around them, you may have issues if you try one out of the blue.

By all means, if you are confident and your dog doesn’t mind it, use a hairdryer. I prefer the towel and warm place method.


Air Drying May Lead to Skin Infections or Other Problems

Air drying is definitely not recommended for dogs with thick or long hair. Leaving their coat wet can lead to matting. If the weather is humid, you are potentially providing a moist environment for skin infections.

Leaving your dog’s coat to air dry may also encourage them to roll through the grass as they try to dry themselves off. If your dog does that, they undo all the good work of the bath you just gave them, or they manage to find something stinky, so the bath or swim has to start all over again.

The correct technique when drying your dog is important. You need to dry them off as much as possible, leaving very light, damp hair. Gently squeeze and pull your dog’s hair to remove as much moisture as possible.  A lot of people give their dog a swift rubdown and then let them run away. This may leave the coat too wet.


Check all Parts of Your Dog are Dry

It’s fine to leave your dog slightly damp after towel drying, especially if they have a nice, warm place to dry off that last little bit. You do need to make sure certain parts of their body are very dry to prevent skin problems arising.


  • Stomach
  • Inner Legs
  • Tail
  • Stomach
  • The hind rear end

Alternatively you could get your dog as dry as possible with a towel, and then put them in a quick drying robe to keep them warm and to continue drying off.

This attention to detail, ensuring your dog is actually drying properly, shows why air drying is not advisable if you can dry your dog off yourself.


Dogs Can Get Sick if They’re Wet For Too Long

As I’ve already discussed above, leaving a dog to air dry can cause issues you will avoid if you towel dry them off.

Dogs can get sick if left too wet for too long, and waiting for your dog to air dry can take longer than you think. A wet coat can stay cold for too long, especially in cold weather. Conditions that a wet, cold dog can pick up are:

  • A cold
  • Hypothermia
  • Frostbite
  • Kennel Cough
  • Skin Infections
  • Fungal Infections
  • Upper Respiratory Infections

Of course these are rare, but the possibility is there.It’s best to avoid the risk, regardless of how small, and dry your dog proactively. It’s a great bonding opportunity for you two as well.


Keep Your Dog Inside Until Completely Dry if Possible

Don’t let your dog outside until they are completely dry. Your dog doesn’t appreciate the lovely aroma of the shampoo’s lavender and pine, like you do.

They want to roll in the first smelly thing they come across. For this reason, dry your dog off and keep them from going outside until they are less inclined to roll in everything you don’t want them to.

Leaving your dog to air dry may lead to matting of their hair. This will make it difficult to comb or brush their coat later on. Once your dog is wet, you should towel dry, and then give them a gentle brushing to prevent that tangling and matting.

This is much harder to get rid of when your dog’s coat is wet and left to air dry.


Brushing Must Accompany Any Air Drying

There will be times when you choose to air dry your dog. It may be because the weather is especially warm and drying won’t take too long. It may also be because your dog doesn’t like being dried manually, or they’ve got wet while you’re away from your house.

If you are going to air dry your dog, you should still provide a light drying to get your dog as close to dry as possible before air drying.  You should brush their coat every few minutes until they are dry.

This will prevent the tangling occurring because as some dog’s coat dries, the hairs can become curled and tangled.


Safely Using a Hair Dryer May be Better Than Air Drying

If you live in a cool area or your dog has a coat that tangles very easily; you may want to consider using a hair dryer, rather than allowing your dog to air dry.

There are some rules to consider, so I’ll cover them for you in case you use a dryer instead of air drying or toweling off.

  1. Keep the nozzle six inches away from your dog’s coat: Too close and the heat may burn the skin.
  2. Maintain constant movement: This is to prevent burning also.
  3. Set the dryer on its lowest setting: When you dry your hair, you can feel the heat, so you move the dryer if its target area gets too hot. Setting it on its lowest setting, along with two tips above, should keep your dog comfortable.
  4. Use a dog dryer: These dryers don’t generate heat like a human hairdryer. They shoot air out at high speed to blow the water off your dog’s coat. Some come with a warming option.


How to Towel Dry Your Dog Correctly

 I’ve said that air-drying your dog is not preferable, and using a drier (especially a human one) is not good unless you are confident with it.

I’ll explain the best towel drying method:

  1. Use an absorbent towel: Place this over your dog’s back and gently rub to absorb the water.
  2. Be careful of the pressure: Speed is not too much of an issue, but don’t press too hardoryour dog to feel like you’re pushing them down. Gently squeeze the coat and pull.
  3. Use multiple towels: If your dog is small, one towel may suffice. If you have a larger dog, replace the towel when it becomes too wet. If you try and use the same towel, you’ll just be shifting water around their body.
  4. Dry your dog in order: Dry your dog’s back, then the chest, stomach and lastly, their legs and paws.
  5. Keep them warm: Even though your dog is nearly dry, the last remaining moisture will make them cold if the temperature is low outside. It may also encourage your dog to roll around on the grass or roll on something smelly.

Allowing your dog to air dry after it gets wet is something to avoid if possible. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. If you live in an area that is very warm and sunny, your dog may dry in 20 minutes.

Allowing your dog to air dry can cause matting and tangling of their coat. It can also encourage your dog to roll around in the grass and attempt to get its old smell back.

Leaving your dog’s coat wet to air dry, can cause skin and bacterial infections. Their coats stay wet for some time, and the moisture can go deep to their skin. They can get very cold, and you may not even know, so drying them off is better than air drying.


Writer: Craig Taylor

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