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How to Bathe a Dog or Cat

Feb 05, 2021

As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to pay special attention to the hygiene of your cats and dogs therefore bathing should be an essential part of your daily or weekly routine.

You may be wondering at what age should you give them their first bath and how often to bathe them, which products should you use to cleanse them, and how? In this article, you will learn this and more about every part of bathing your pet.

Brush your pet before bathing

Brushing your cats’ and dogs’ hair coat is necessary for several reasons. It prevents the mats from forming, lifts fur that is ready to be shed, and removes broken hair. Mats form due to the tangling of loose hair and can cause pain and sores when they get tighter. Brushing not only removes mats but also stimulates blood flow and distributes oil for healthy skin.

Both long and short-haired breeds need brushing. Brush the long hair coats daily and short hair coats weekly. Choosing the right kind of brush for your cat or dog can make the job easier.

If your pet has large painful mats, do not brush them. These mats may need to be clipped, so schedule an appointment with the groomer if you’re not comfortable/able to do this yourself.

Brushing your pet before bathing is the right choice. When they’re wet, mats and tangles can cause added discomfort for pets, in addition to becoming harder to remove.

How to bathe a cat

Cat having a bath

Keeping your cat's skin and coat clean and healthy is essential for their overall well-being. However, cats can get irritated or become aggressive when you bathe them. You can ease the stress and tension if you start to bathe them at a very young age because they may then learn to enjoy it. Cats usually do not need bathing too often because they take care of their hair and skin with the grooming they do themselves. That being said, their own efforts don't eliminate dandruff, remove mats, or make them smell better.

The best thing you can do to make bath time a pleasant experience for both cat and owner is to make it as calm and efficient as possible. Use a bathtub, fill it with a bit of water, and go for it. Some cats respond positively to having some toys in the bath, too.

If your cat needs a bath, make sure to follow these steps to make it more pleasant for both of you.

  1. The first decision to make is where your cat will take a bath. Have everything handy before you involve your cat. Get a towel, cat shampoo, washcloths, a pitcher to rinse, and brush ready by your chosen place to minimize the time your cat spends being uncomfortable and wet.
  2. Place a rubber bathmat in the bathtub to avoid slipping. Fill the tub with three to five inches of lukewarm water. If you are using a sink or tub, then put a folded towel on the bottom.
  3. Use the spray head on a gentle setting to wet the cat thoroughly, and take care not to spray in the eyes, ears, and nose. If necessary, place cotton in the cat's ears to keep water out.
  4. Do not use human shampoo. It can be harmful to your cat. Buy a cat shampoo and make sure it is mild with no harsh chemicals.
  5. Thoroughly wet your cat and gently massage with a solution of five parts water and one part shampoo. Apply it in the direction of hair growth, from head to tail.
  6. Rinse the shampoo off with a spray hose and be sure to use lukewarm water. Make sure to remove all the residue as it can irritate your cat's skin and act as a magnet for dirt later.
  7. Use a warm washcloth to wipe your cat's face. Use plain water without any soap to prevent stinging in the eyes. Be cautious and gentle around the eyes, nose, and ears.
  8. Wrap the cat in a large towel and dry them with it. If your cat is comfortable, then you can use a blow dryer from a distance on the lowest heat.
  9. After drying out, use a wide-toothed comb to untangle the cat's long hair carefully.
  10. If your cat has severe matting, then visit a professional groomer for brushing and bathing.

How often to bathe a cat

Keeping your cat clean and healthy is important. We all know that cats keep themselves clean with their tongue, but it does not make them human-standard clean. Bathe them only occasionally because bathing a cat too frequently can cause dry, flaky, and itchy skin.

How often to bathe a cat depends on the following factors:

How to bathe a dog

Dog having a bath

It is an essential part of good hygiene and ongoing grooming to give your dog regular baths; it helps to keep them healthy and free from parasites. Baths help to remove the visible dirt your dog collects while walking and being outside.

Bathing is important for all dogs, but the frequency depends on fur, breed, and environment.

Here are a few tips for how to bathe a dog. These tips help to make it a friendly, more enjoyable experience for both you and your pooch:

  1. First of all, set up an environment where your dog feels comfortable. Determine the right place to bathe your dog. Consider the breed and size to decide whether to bathe your dog outside or inside. Sinks might work best for very small dogs, and a bathtub is suitable for most breed sizes.
  2. Be mindful of water temperature and pressure, especially if you are bathing your dog outside. Make sure the pressure is low, and the water is lukewarm. Cold water is not comfortable for your dog and does not clean well.
  3. Gather up all the supplies you need and keep them handy. Make sure to take an absorbent towel, shampoo meant for dogs, and a set of brushes and combs suitable for your dog's coat type and breed
  4. Before you start bathing your dog, test the water to make sure it's lukewarm. Make sure to thoroughly wet your dog's coat, especially if thick or water-resistant.
  5. Shampoo your dog and take care to avoid sensitive areas including eyes, face, and ears. Make a good lather by adding water as necessary, massage shampoo from head to tail in a pleasant way. If possible, let the shampoo sit on the dog's coat for a few minutes.
  6. Rinse the water thoroughly to wash all the residue and give your dog a comfortable feel. You can use sprayers specifically designed for bathing a dog.
  7. Do not forget to dry your dog. It is an essential part of the bathing process to keep your pet healthy and comfortable. Dogs with thick coats should especially be dried thoroughly to avoid damp spots that can lead to hot spots. You can also use a blow dryer on the lowest heat setting for dogs with thick coats.

How often to bathe a dog

New dog owners understandably get confused about how often to bathe a dog because there are many factors to consider. How frequently a dog needs a bath depends on breed, length of coat, health, and lifestyle. For example, if your dog has long hair and a habit of walking and rolling around in the dirt, they will need more frequent bathing than a short haired dog who rarely leaves the house.

Moreover, in summer, ticks and fleas can be a problem, and bathing frequently can help alleviate the itching by killing parasites.

Different breeds have different bathing needs, so make sure to bathe your dog accordingly. Here are some factors that determine your dog's bath routine.

Common mistakes pet owners make during bath time

Even the most experienced pet owners can make mistakes when giving a bath to a cat or a dog because every pet has a level of comfort and specific needs during bath time that may different to what you’re used to.

Here are some common bathtub mistakes that most pet parents make:

Wrong water temperature

Paying attention to water temperature is essential to ensure that a bath is comfortable and smooth for your pet. Burning your cat or dog with hot water or shocking them with freezing water is something they never forget and will lead to them not cooperating next time.

Wrong shampoo selection

Do not grab any shampoo for your cat or dog. A pet's skin has a different pH balance than humans do, so do not use human shampoo for your pet. You should pick a shampoo with a veterinarian's recommendation.

Poor soap/shampoo application

One of the common mistakes that pet parents make is not avoiding getting water and soap in their eyes. Instead of running water over your pet's head, rinse it thoroughly to protect their eyes and ears.

Bad brushing technique

You should brush your cat or dog before bathing, but it can be painful if there are knots in your pet's coats. Some pet owners may forcefully try to remove the mats and knots which can lead to irritation and even infections. If you’re unsure how to remove these safely, consider takin them to a professional groomer.


Key tips for bathing a cat or dog

Pet owners usually think that cats and dogs are low-maintenance pets who only need the odd brush or trim, but the truth is they require regular checking, cleaning, and grooming programs. Give your cat and dog a quick check if they hop onto your lap. Make sure to check your pet thoroughly once a month. It allows you to better detect any possible problems before they develop.

Remember to follow the steps in this blog to make bath time an easy job instead of an unpleasant chore.