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 notoriously bath-averse, but they do need to be bathed every now and then. 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. But if you’re willing to embrace the DIY spirit when it comes to giving your dog or cat a bath, you can watch this video and use our guide below to make your life a little easier.  

 

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.

A Guide to Bathing Your Dog or Cat

For a successful bath at home, the trick is to get them in and out of the tub without major incident. It is also wise to acclimate your pet to the bathing process early on so that things are easier down the road. And if you have a willing pet-bathing partner, two people can also make the process run a lot smoother. We also recommend using the following tips to help you along before, during and after the bathing process.

Before Washing Your Pet

  • Hold off, if necessary: If your pet has received a flea treatment prior to the bath, you should wait 48 hours before bathing.
  • Trim nails for traction: 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).
  • Prepare for hair: 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.
  • Groom as needed: 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.
  • Pre-Dilute Shampoo as Needed: 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.
  • Pre-warm towels: 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.
  • Set your knobs for warm water: 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.

While Washing Your Pet

  • Avoid faucet fright: 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.
  • Contain your pet: Remember to close the door to the bathroom just in case your pet gets out of the tub and tries to escape.
  • Use caution in sensitive areas: 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.

Post-Wash

  • Inspect the ears: 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 veterinarian about proper ear cleaning techniques and products. Never stick a cotton swab down into a pet’s ear, as you are can rupture an eardrum, leading to pain as well as disturbances in balance.
  • Groom (again): 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.
Updated October 20, 2015