Tips for Bathing Your Pet

Though your pets may not always happily cooperate, there are plenty of times when they will need a good bath. Cats in particular are notorious for disliking a bath. Many people find it is easier to take their cat to the groomer for clipping and bathing and, at the very least, regular grooming and/or haircuts make it easier to give baths at home between trips to the salon.

For a successful bath at home, the trick is to get them in and out of the tub without major incident. It is wise to acclimate your pet to the bathing process early on so that things are easier down the road. Two people can also make the process run a lot smoother. Here are some helpful tips.


  • If your pet has received a flea treatment prior to the bath, you should wait 48 hours before bathing. Trim your pet’s toenails before you try to hold a wet slippery dog or cat in the bathtub, sink or large container (such as a kiddie pool if your pet is very large). If you expect a lot of fur to go down the drain, use a mesh sponge by the drain to capture extra fur washed off your pet. Brushing beforehand also helps reduce the amount of hair the drain will need to handle.
  • Brush out any mats in your pet’s fur prior to getting the hair wet.
  • Toss towels in the dryer so they are warm when you start to towel off your pet. You will be surprised at how much of a difference this makes in getting your pet completely dry.
  • Keep the shedding to a minimum by using warm instead of hot water, which can trigger your pet to shed a lot of fur at once.

The Wash

  • For extra furry pets, try diluting shampoo with water to make application, lathering and rinsing easier. Use an empty shampoo bottle and make a solution of one part shampoo to 10 – 15 parts warm water. Having it prepared before you start the bath keeps all of your attention on your pet in the tub.
  • Many pets are fearful of the water as it comes directly out of the faucet or showerhead. Use a pitcher or large cup to pour water over them instead.
  • Remember to close the door to the bathroom just in case your pet gets out of the tub and tries to escape.
  • Be careful while working around the eyes and ears. If your pet doesn’t like water poured on its face, bathe the body and then use a wet washcloth to wipe down the head and face.


  • Check your pet’s ears, making sure they are dry and odor-free after bathing. This can prevent an ear infection. Water from the bath can be just the trigger to allow yeast or bacteria in the ear to grow out of control. Use your finger and a tissue to check that the ear is in good shape after your pet is dry. Avoid putting anything smaller than your finger into your pet’s ear so you don’t damage the ear canal or the eardrum. Talk with your vet about proper ear cleaning techniques and products. Never stick a cotton swab down into a pet’s ear, as you are likely to rupture an eardrum, leading to pain as well as disturbances in balance.
  • Blow dryers can speed up the drying process for pets that are cooperative. Work on getting your pet used to the blow dryer. Short sessions can go a long way toward helping your pet get comfortable with the blow dryer so future drying-time is reduced. Don’t use the hot setting and never blow the dryer directly toward your dog’s or cat’s eyes. Also, continually move the blow dryer to different areas of the body. The blow dryer can burn the skin if kept in one area for an extended period of time.
  • After the bath, medium- and longhaired pets need a good brushing to remove any loose hair or fur. If you need a little extra assistance, consider trying a de-shedding tool.