Sudsy Pet Care: The Dos and Don’ts of Bathing Your Pet

pet care bathing dos and don'tsThe nose knows exactly when your pet needs a bath, but there are some important dos and don’ts to follow when it comes to this area of pet care. The frequency of bathing and the types of products you use, in particular, can affect your pet’s well-being. Your beloved pet’s health cleanliness is a critical piece of their overall health. Follow these tips for getting the washing up done right. 

Don’t bathe too frequently… but do bathe often enough

Aim for a happy medium when it comes to the regularity of your pet’s bath times. If you bathe too often, you could cause your pet dryness or dandruff, while also removing the pet’s natural oils and protection against allergens and bacteria. One to two times a month is the best bathing schedule, unless of course your pet finds a must-jump-in-it mud puddle. And, of course, “spot-cleaning” your pet in between major baths with a no-rinse pet shampoo can do the trick in a pinch.

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Do use pet-approved cleansing products

It may be tempting to do double-duty and just use your bottle of shampoo and conditioner to lather your pet’s fur and skin, but try to avoid this bit of laziness. Human shampoo is not pH balance for the sensitive skin of your pet – even baby shampoo can cause itching or dryness. Don’t use dish soap – while this may be used in commercials to help wildlife caught in oil spills, dish soap is not meant for regular bathing and could strip your animal’s skin of its natural oils and cause irritation. Use dog products on dogs and cat products on cats and do not mix the two. It’s always a good idea to cleanse gently rather than aggressively, no matter how dirty your pet is. Use hypoallergenic wash that is free of dyes, perfumes and other chemicals. You may want to clear your pet care hygiene products with your vet first to make sure they’re appropriate and non-toxic to the pet in question, or any other animals in your house.

Don’t use a tub of water

A pressure nozzle from a hose or shower head is necessary to properly bathe your pet, and so is an area where the water can drain as you wash. It may seem cozy and warm to keep your pet in a certain depth of water throughout their bath, but a tub half-filled with water will keep the soap stuck in their fur, which could cause dry skin, itchiness, and matting.

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Do pay close attention to your pet

If your pet is getting smelly between baths and seems to need a washing up more than twice a month, there may be a health problem happening. Skin infections are one of the first culprits, but ear problems and dental disease can also lead to odor issues, and frequent bathing will not help. In fact, the extra baths could make the malodorous condition much worse. See a vet if your pet becomes stinky far too quickly between baths. Pay attention too, to make sure your pet does not have a reaction to the cleansing products you’re using.

Don’t use hair dryers designed for humans

Just like humans can get a chill while bathing, pets can too. If you’re bathing outdoors, do so only when the weather is over 70 degrees. Otherwise, bathe in the house, and don’t be tempted to use the hair dryer to warm your pet up. The heat from hair dryers can cause itchy and dry skin for your pet, and could burn their sensitive skin. Towel dry them well and allow them to air dry indoors until they’re completely dry so your pet isn’t susceptible to chills.

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Do prepare yourself for a workout

It’s about as easy to bathe a pet as it is to bathe a child, which is to say, not all that easy. A good lathering up of your pet can require some serious muscle on your part, especially if your pet is not a fan of getting clean. Maintaining a routine can help your pet accept the inevitable and require less wrestling on your part.

Do combine brushing with bathing

Some pets make it difficult to brush their teeth, but it’s important to make an effort to carry out this important task as often as possible. Dental disease is the most common health problem among pets. If you can’t master the task yourself, no worries: preventive pet dental care is available, and recommended. Your pet is sure to have a thorough brushing and plaque removal treatment so that their “dog breath” or “cat breath” remains refreshing instead of intolerable.

Questions about bathing your pet or taking care of your pet’s teeth? Worried that your pet may have a skin reaction, rash, or other topical problem? Visit the Northpointe Veterinary Hospital, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for fast and comprehensive care.