Is Bathing Your Pet Like a Day at the Spa?
Giving the family dog an overly sudsy bath might be comedic gold in the movies, but the experience can also be fraught with frustration, fear, and overwhelming discomfort. Of course, you could wait until Fido gets sprayed by a skunk to figure out how to bathe him, but then you’d really have your work cut out for you! When it’s done well and with the right tools, bathing your pet can be an enriching, relaxing experience for both of you.
From Grimy to Squeaky Clean
It used to be widely accepted that at-home bathing was an occasional exception to the rule. However, gentle hypoallergenic shampoos and other pet cleaning products have come a long way since then, making bathing your pet enjoyable at any time.
Dogs and cats should be bathed as needed. Naturally healthy oils produced by the skin helps ward off itchy irritation. Smaller pets, like hamsters, guinea pigs, and ferrets, may not ever need to be bathed, but if their smell is bothersome, a bath every 2-3 months should do.
Bathing your pet will be easier if you introduce the concept at an early age. Show him or her that bath time can be relaxing, fun, and invigorating. Reward your pet with appealing toys or treats.
Wet and Pampered
Before you start bathing your pet, the following steps should be observed:
- Brush your pet’s coat thoroughly. The removal of mats, dead hair, burrs, and other debris will help reduce tangles when the coat is wet. Mats tighten when wet and can hold moisture against the skin and may cause infection.
- You may have to clip mats; please do not use scissors (your pet will thank you!).
- Purchase pet-specific bath products. Human products can have harsh chemicals or ingredients that shouldn’t be ingested.
- Have everything lined up and ready to go before you place your pet in the tub or sink.
- A towel can help your pet stand up without slipping around in the tub.
- Using lukewarm water, fill the tub a few inches (enough to get your pet wet and rinsed, but not enough to cause alarm).
- Gently place cotton balls inside the ears.
- Lather and rinse well.
- Inspect and wash your pet’s paws.
- Brush out the coat, and dry your pet. Keep in mind that a hair dryer can be too hot for your pet’s delicate skin, but air drying can cause a chill.
If your pet is really dirty, salty, muddy or has tree sap, burrs, or paint on the coat, apply an even layer of mineral oil or vegetable oil to the spot. Leave on for 24 hours before washing off with soap and water.
Protect the Eyes
Of course, it’s a challenge to predict the many ways your pet might move around while getting cleaned up. Soapy water or suds can enter the eyes, causing pain and irritation. Worse, ulcers can form on the cornea.
Keep a saline eye wash on hand for this common occurrence when bathing your pet. Please call us if it persists longer than an hour.
Bathing Your Pet
If your pet doesn’t enjoy bath time at first, don’t give up. Offer soothing reassurances, limit exposure to soap and water (if that’s what your pet dislikes), and reward him or her. Over time, you’ll hopefully see your pet begin to enjoy – not just tolerate – bath time.