Bath time: Some dogs and cats love it, but most pets hate bathing as much as a mucky toddler, and will do everything to get out the ordeal! However, washing your dog and cat doesn’t need to be a song and dance.
With enough preparation, determination and a good attitude you can coax your pet into thinking that taking a doggy (or kitty) bath is the best thing since big fat steaks, so much so that they look forward to bath time, and enjoy the grooming that goes with it.
Bathing is an important part of keeping your pet free diseases and infections. The ASCPA recommendations are that you should wash your dog at least once every three months, although it depends on your dog’s breed, coat, and whether she loves rolling around in mud and dirt. Some dog groomers recommend bathing more often if your dogs spend a lot of time outside getting dirty; the suggestion is to bath your dog once every six weeks. Note, however, that double-coated breeds should be bathed no more than three times a year and that smooth-coated dogs can go longer periods between bathing than can curly-coated breeds.
It’s important to monitor your dog after a bath to see if it has any effect on their skin or coat. Too much bathing can dry out their skin and strip their coats of healthy oils which can irritate the skin. Regular brushing, on the other hand, can be revitalising for your pet’s skin and coat.
Got the tools?
Make sure you’ve got the right equipment, including a suitable doggy bath tub (your own bath will do), a rubber mat, good dog shampoo, a brush, and towels. You can also use a face cloth or a sponge if you want, but a good massage with your hands can help calm and relax your dog. If your dog is adamant about not bathing you’ll need to get a something to tether her during bathing.
The best way to bathe your dog
Begin by placing the rubber mat on the bottom of the tub to prevent your pooch from slipping and sliding. Add between 3 to 4 inches of lukewarm (not hot) water. Brush your dog’s coat thoroughly, removing all tangles, mats and loose hair. You can put cotton balls into their ears to make sure no water and soap get in. Place your dog in the water, hold them gently but firmly. If you need to use a bathing tether, then hook it up and be very kind because this process may well cause your dog to try to make a dash for the door.
Using a beaker, shower hose or spray nozzle, make sure you wet your dog completely, being extra careful to avoid getting water in their eyes. Use the dog shampoo over their entire body and lather from shoulders to the tail, taking care to wash your dog’s bottom gently with a sponge, and not forgetting to get in between the toes. Then come up to their head and massage in circular motions gently. Remember to clean under the neck, in facial wrinkles and ear flaps, taking care not to get any water and soap into the ear canals.
Rinse completely with warm water, starting from the head and making sure you remove all traces of shampoo. Take the face cloth and gently wipe their face. Lift them out of the bath with a big towel wrapped around them and rub until they’re almost completely dry. If it’s hot and sunny out you can let your dog dry in an enclosed area, but don’t let them run free because they’ll be tempted to run out and roll around in the dust, grass and dirt. If it’s wet and cold out you can use a pet dryer or a blow dryer on a low setting. Be very gentle while drying the coat so you don’t pull their hair and create new knots and tangles. Remember to always reward with a treat and to keep praising your dog for being a good dog who loves bath time.
The best way to bath your cat
Generally speaking, cats are capable of grooming themselves, and they do so regularly, but sometimes you have to give them a hand because they’ve gotten something sticky or icky stuck on a hard to reach spot. Bear in mind, that bathing can be more stressful for cats than dogs, so you need to be extra gentle, patient and try get your timing right.
According to the ASPCA, you should wait for your cat to be relaxed. You can play with them to put them in a mellow frame of mind. This is the ideal time for giving your cat a bath. If you’re brave enough to clip your cat’s claws, you can do that first, although you might need another play session to shake off the stress of that process before embarking on a bath.
Brush your cat to remove loose hair and matted fur. Cats generally love being brushed which can also put them in a good mental place before a bath. Place some cotton balls into your cat’s ears to keep the water out and place a rubber mat in the tub, basin or sink. Add about 3 to 4 inches of lukewarm water and use a shower hose or plastic pitcher to wet your cat, taking care to avoid wetting the eye area. Use cat shampoo and gently massage your cat in circular motions with your fingers and work the lather all over the body, making sure you get into the hard to reach areas. Avoid the face, eyes and ears. Then rinse thoroughly making sure you remove all shampoo and soap residue completely. Use a damp facecloth that’s been rinsed in a mild vinegar solution and gently and carefully wipe the face, ears and eye area.
Wrap your cat in a large towel and dry them in a warm place. It will be more difficult to use a pet dryer or blow dryer on your cat than your dog because most cats will be completely stressed by the noise and blowing action. If your kitty doesn’t mind the noise then you can use the dryer on the lowest setting. If your cat has long hair, use a wide-tooth comb to untangle the fur. Remember to keep praising your cat while washing and to reward with a treat which will go a long way towards making your cat less reluctant to take the next bath.