How to Make an Oatmeal Bath for a Dog

How to Make an Oatmeal Bath for a Dog

Dogs, much like humans, can get irritated skin, suffering from rashes or dry and itchy patches of skin. There are many reasons a dog may develop a rash, including fleas, illnesses or a simple allergic reaction to a new product.

Although specific shampoos exist to help get rid of rashes for dogs, a pet owner may be put off by the price, or just want to try something more natural first, like an oatmeal bath. In this guide, we’ll explore what makes an oatmeal bath so useful, as well as the best way to prepare one for your dog.

Benefits of Oatmeal

You may be familiar with oatmeal as a staple breakfast food. You’ll find many different varieties in the supermarket, with flavors from chocolate to maple syrup and everything in between. What you may not know, however, is how good oats can be for the skin.

Oats have been used as a form of skin care as long ago as the ancient Roman times and are still a top ingredient in some toiletries today. Oatmeal has active properties that can work wonders on skin problems in humans and animals alike. It is commonly used in treatments for sore and itchy skin, thanks to its barrier repair and moisturizing properties. Oatmeal also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that it’s perfect for soothing irritated skin.

In 2003, the FDA even specifically confirmed oatmeal as safe for use as a form of skincare, citing evidence that colloidal oatmeal can provide temporary skin protection and relieve minor irritation and itching due to a number of conditions.

Why Use an Oatmeal Bath?

Like humans, dogs can have sensitive skin and may react to certain chemicals, even some that can be found in pet friendly products. An oatmeal bath is an all-natural solution to many skin issues that your dog may be suffering from.

These could include:

  • insect bites
  • allergic reactions
  • itchy skin
  • dry skin
  • rashes
  • flakey skin

Oatmeal is non-toxic, so even if your dog ingests the mixture, there is no need to worry. Chances are you already have oatmeal in your cupboard, so it’s an excellent first step to try in an itchy emergency, or before investing in expensive specialty shampoos.

Why Would My Dog Require an Oatmeal Bath?

There are many reasons you might consider using an oatmeal bath for your dog. He or she could have developed skin issues through a wide variety of circumstances – for example, the food they’ve been eating.

They also could have come into contact with an allergen; for instance, perhaps when out on a walk they encountered a patch of poison ivy. Maybe they’ve decided to battle a bug and lose. Whatever the reason for their skin complaint, an oatmeal bath can provide temporary but immediate relief.

bowl of colloidal oatmeal with scoop

How to Make an Oatmeal Bath for Your Dog

To help make things simple, we’ve broken down exactly how to make an oatmeal bath for your furry best friend, as well as the supplies you’ll need.

Oatmeal Bath Ingredients and Supplies

To make an oatmeal bath for your dog, there are just a few supplies you’ll need to have on hand.

One Cup of Colloidal Oatmeal

This is oatmeal that has been ground to an even and fine powder; any other oatmeal may not dissolve in the bath. Also, make sure that the oatmeal you select is plain rather than the flavored kind.

One Bathtub or Other Suitable Water-Holding Receptacle

Depending on the size of your bathtub, you may need more or less oatmeal for the bath water.

One Dog

Depending on how tall your dog is, you may require more or less oatmeal as the bath will need less water to properly soak the pup.

beagle puppy being given oatmeal bath

A Step-by-Step Guide to Making an Oatmeal Bath

Follow this simple method to create a soothing oatmeal bath for your dog.

Step One: Run a Bath

  • Because the oatmeal will make everything slippery, add a non-slip mat to your tub before running the bath.
  • Ensure that it is not too hot, else you run the risk of accidentally scalding your pooch’s already sore skin.
  • Hot water can also dry out the skin and make inflammation worse.
  • Lukewarm is the best temperature to go for – if you’re unsure, err on the side of cooler rather than warmer.
  • Consider if the temperature would be suitable for a baby, not too hot and not too cold.
  • Make sure that the bath isn’t too deep – aim for around your dog’s chest, but at least above their ankles, and don’t forget to account for the water rising when your dog gets in the tub.

Step Two: Mix in Your Cup of Colloidal Oatmeal

  • If you can’t purchase colloidal oatmeal, normal, plain oatmeal can be ground in a clean coffee grinder or blender until it becomes a fine and even powder.
  • Make sure there are no extra ingredients in the oatmeal you use.
  • If you’re not sure if the oatmeal is fine enough, test a small amount with a small amount of warm water, to make sure it turns the water into a milky smooth liquid. If not, keep grinding or blending.
  • Use your arm to mix the oatmeal powder into the bath, ensuring that it is thoroughly distributed throughout the tub.

Step Three: Place Your Dog in the Bathtub

  • You can also do this in a plastic tub large enough to hold your dog if necessary, instead of the bathtub.
  • If bath time usually gets particularly messy, you may consider bathing your dog outdoors.

Step Four: Gently Pour the Mixture Over Your Dog’s Entire Body

  • Use a cup, or something similar, to help make this step easier.
  • Be careful of the face – even though this mixture is all natural, you’ll still want to avoid the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.
  • If irritation occurs in those areas, consider using a spot treatment.

Step Five: Let the Dog Soak in the Oatmeal Mixture

  • You’ll want to try to keep your dog in there for around 15 minutes.
  • If your dog hates bath time, try to keep them distracted by playing with them, otherwise try to keep them in for as long as you can, as close to 15 minutes as possible.
  • Less than this and the bath may not be as effective.

Step Six: Massage the Skin

  • While your dog is enjoying a nice soak in the tub, massage the oatmeal mixture into their skin.
  • This will ensure that it can reach the skin better and that you can target any particularly problematic areas.

Step Seven: Rinse

  • Using clean, warm water, rinse the oatmeal mixture from your dog paying particular attention to the areas around their eyes and ears.
  • You don’t need to rinse too thoroughly, as the solution may leave a protective layer on their skin.
  • There is no need to use shampoo, and in fact this could clean off the beneficial oatmeal.

Step Eight: Towel Dry Your Dog and Brush Through Their Fur

  • Use a brush suitable for your dog’s hair type.
  • Never use a hot hairdryer on your dog, as it can cause injury – it’s advisable not to use a hairdryer at all on a dog with irritated skin, as this can make it worse.

Step Nine: Repeat as Needed, No More Than Twice a Week

  • If symptoms don’t seem to be getting better, speak to your veterinarian as there could be underlying causes.
  • For a dog without skin conditions, aim for no more than once a month, otherwise you run the risk of actually drying out your dog’s skin rather than helping keep it moisturized.

Oatmeal Spot Treatment

An oatmeal paste can be a great idea if you need to target specific and small areas of your dog’s skin, such as if they have an insect bite. It can also be used as a mask for an all-over intensive puppy spa treatment.

  1. To make this, add warm water to a cup of oatmeal slowly, and stir.
  2. Add enough water that it becomes a paste rather than a full-on liquid.
  3. Dampen your dog’s skin in the areas you will be spot treating. The skin and fur need to be wet for the paste to adhere.
  4. Apply the paste to any areas that require particular attention, rubbing it in with your fingers to get the mixture right down to the skin.
  5. Leave on for 20 or so minutes, rinsing thoroughly. Some recommend letting it dry completely and allowing it to fall off by itself, but this should only be done if you don’t mind oatmeal all over your carpet, or if you can keep your dog outside while they dry.

golden retriever rinsed by shower head

When to See a Vet About Itchy Skin

While an oatmeal bath can be very beneficial for your dog, if you notice an unusual rash on them, or they appear to be scratching themselves more than normal, it’s always worth speaking with your vet just to make sure it’s nothing too serious. Mild itching is usually nothing to worry about, but if it’s accompanied by other symptoms then it could be a cause for concern.

It’s also a good idea to speak to them before trying any sort of home remedies, including oatmeal, just to be on the safe side and to ensure that your pet is getting the very best care.

Treat Your Dog to an Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal is no longer just a breakfast food, but instead can provide immediate relief to your dog’s sore skin. Take advantage of its properties to soothe your dog, and help them be as happy and comfortable as possible.

Team PetMag

We’re a diverse team of animal lovers with a penchant for pups and a fascination with felines. As pet owners, we know that all pets are part of the family. Whether you live with pooches, pussy cats, rodents, or reptiles, we want to support them in living happy, healthy lives. Nothing tops our unwavering love for animals, but sharing all of our tips and tricks here at Pet Mag is a close second. We’re here to guide you through all of your pet care needs, like fighting fleas, picking grooming gloves, or simply hunting down the tastiest treats available.