Can A Dog Go Outside After A Bath? (Top 4 Reasons Why They Shouldn’t)

For some dogs, bath time is fun and entertaining, and for others, scary and dreadful. Regardless of how the bath time feels, all dog parents agree that the drying process is tricky. Therefore, a common dilemma is whether dogs can go outside after having a bath.  

So, can a dog go outside after a bath? No, a dog should not be allowed to go outside after a bath, especially if not fully dried or if the temperatures are low. The combination of wet fur and cold air puts the dog at risk of becoming sick. Although long and challenging, the drying process must be performed properly and completely. 

In this article, we will talk about the risks of letting dogs go outside after a bath. We will also explain why dogs like going outside immediately after bath time and finally give some tips on how to quickly and efficiently dry your dog.  

Can Dogs Get Sick If They Go Outside Wet? 

Yes, a dog can get sick if it goes outside wet. There is no rule that every dog is guaranteed to get sick by going out wet, but there is a big chance it will develop some form of issue. Here is a short overview of the possible health problems.  

Health problem number 1: Kennel cough infection 

The kennel cough infection is an opportunistic condition and is more likely to occur in dogs with compromised immune systems. If a wet dog is exposed to cold and humid conditions, its immunity can get weakened and susceptible to such infections. A dog with kennel cough needs veterinary attention and proper treatment – antibiotics, anti-cough medications, and supportive therapy.  

Health problem number 2: Upper respiratory infections 

Remember the last time you were cold and then got your throat achy and painful. Well, dogs can experience a similar issue. Exposure to wet and cold weather is a risk factor enough for inflammation of the respiratory system. If you add a moist coat on top of this, the risk is even greater. If the inflammation progresses and affects the lungs, it will develop painful and life-threatening pneumonia.  

Health problem number 3: Skin infections  

Skin infections are more likely to occur in dogs with long, thick coats and dogs with double coats. Namely, the trapped moisture inside the fur layers is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeasts. These pathogenic microorganisms will thrive and multiply, leading to skin infections. Skin infections are challenging in terms of treatment because they require long-term use of antibiotics and the administration of local ointments and creams.  

Health problem number 4: Frostbites and hypothermia  

Frostbites and hypothermia are particularly dangerous consequences and are associated with fairly low temperatures. Frostbites are more manageable, but they still require adequate and quick medical interventions. On the other hand, hypothermia (decreased body temperature) is a potentially life-threatening condition. Young pups are at higher risk of developing hypothermia because their thermal regulation centers are underdeveloped.  

Why Does My Dog Want To Go Outside After A Bath? 

As mentioned, some dogs like baths, and others hate them. Regardless of these personal preferences, all dogs love to go outside immediately after having a bath. We already explained why the idea is not recommended, but what makes a dog feel the urge to run outside the moment they leave the bath? Let’s review the top three reasons for the behavior.  

Reason number 1: Bath anxiety 

A dog that is scared or anxious during baths will like to run outside after the bath is finished in order to escape from the situation. In some dogs, even staying in the bathroom can be a stress trigger yet alone being bathed. Therefore, once the bath is over, these dogs will try to escape the scenario simply by running away. And from a dog’s point of view, being outside is safer than in the living room, or at least it is more distant from the bathroom.  

Reason number 2: Bath zoomies 

This reason refers to the other group of dogs – the pups that enjoy baths. In fact, for some dogs, the bath time is so exciting and fun, they cannot put an end to the excitement after the bath is over and keep acting hyper for hours. This situation is popularly called dog zoomies, and it can be defined as an excitement overload. There is nothing bad about bath zoomies; just make sure your dog does not accidentally hurt itself while running around like crazy.  

Reason number 3: Dislike of the new smell  

This applies to all dogs regardless of whether they like baths or not. Although not as vigilant about personal hygiene as cats, dogs like their own smell. Better said, they are used to smelling in a certain way and accept that scent as normal. Bathing messes with the smell – it removes it and adds a new different scent. In such cases, the dog’s request to go outside is practical – it needs to roll into familiar stuff to get its regular smell back. This may sound weird to us, but it makes perfect logic for dogs.  

Can I Let My Dog Air Dry After A Bath Before Going Outside? 

The exact answer to this question depends on various factors, including your dog’s coat type and environmental conditions. For example, if you have a dog with a short and not particularly thick coat and the temperature outside or in your house is moderate to high, you can let it air dry. Of course, before letting it air dry, you will provide space for several hard shakes and use dry towels to remove the excess water.  

However, this method can be troublesome. Namely, if you let your dog air dry inside the house, chances are it will roll on your furniture and carpet and leave the unpleasant doggy smell all over the house. On the other hand, if air drying outside, it will roll on the floor and pick up more dirt than it had before the bath. Plus, if a white-coated dog decides to rub or even lay on a mown grass, its wet fur can quickly pick up the color and become dyed in green.  

A dog with a long and thick coat must not be allowed to air dry. The same applies to dogs with double coats. Letting these dogs dry naturally is a recipe for disaster as the moist coat will become matted and hard to manage.  

Plus, if the environmental conditions are humid and cold, the fur will trap more moisture and stay damp for a long time before it dries. This dampness creates perfect conditions for bacteria growth and favors the development of skin infections and localized skin conditions, like, for example, the popular and widespread hot spots.  

Finally, basically, all dogs can get sick if allowed to air dry when the temperatures are low and harsh. The consequences of this combination range from mild colds to severe and potentially fatal pneumonia.  

How Can I Dry My Dog After A Bath Before They Go Outside? 

With air-drying covered and explained, it is time we review some other popular drying methods and talk about their pros and cons. 

Method number 1: Towels  

Towels are a popular drying method. However, most dog owners use them in the wrong way. Namely, to dry their dogs, owners use a towel and rub the coat. These motions are not very efficient in soaking the excess water and contributing to coat tangling and matting. Instead, groomers and experts recommend using various towels and simply putting them on the coat, and letting them soak as much water as possible without making motions. There are even commercially available dog towels with extra absorbing properties.  

Method number 2: Hairdryers   

This is the most efficient and fastest way of drying a dog after a bath. You can use your own hairdryer or get one specifically designed for dogs. If sharing the same hairdryer, make sure you set it on low heat and hold it a certain distance from your dog’s skin as you do not like to trigger burns. There is one potential caveat to this method – some dogs are afraid of the sound. Luckily, there are soundless hair dryers, but of course, they have heftier price tags.  

Method number 3: Quick-drying sprays  

The modern pet market is nothing if not rich and versatile. Today, it even offers so-called quick-drying sprays, which contain chemicals that speed up the drying process. Since they are relatively new, there is not much feedback regarding efficacy. However, if you have an anxious pouch eager to leave the house after bathing, they are worth trying.  

Summing Up: Dogs Going Outside After Baths  

Blame the zoomies, but all dogs like to go outside as soon as they bathe. On the other hand, all dog owners like to keep them inside and prevent them from getting dirty. However, there is more than preventing dirtiness when it comes to keeping dogs inside the house after baths.  

If a wet dog is allowed to go outside, there can be serious consequences, especially if the weather is cold and unfavorable. Something like a human going out with wet hair in the middle of winter. To avoid problems and hefty vet bills, make sure your dog is well dried before leaving the house after having a bath. 


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!

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