Step-by-Step Guide to Bathing Your Pet

Step-by-Step Guide to Bathing Your Pet

subtitle
How Often Should I Bath My Pet?
meta excerpt
Learn breed-specific recommendations and step-by-step instructions for a successful bath for your pet.
tag
dog
cat
bathing
flea & tick
time
5 minute read
writer
By Team Dr.Tail
A puppy taking a bath
A puppy taking a bath
 
Every time you hit the tub with your furry friend, it should feel like a fun bonding moment, not a dreaded responsibility.
Here are some tips and best practices to help you look forward to future bathing sesh.
 
notion image
ON THIS PAGE
notion image

Importance of Bathing

Bathing is much more of a necessity than a feel-good activity for pets. That shouldn't be a surprise, given how pets spend all day rolling around the floor naked. In the process, their paw pads and fur collect a shocking amount of debris. They'll just lick it out unless you help wash it off. Yeah, you can imagine how much good that'd do for their health.
 

How Often Should I bath my pet?

Whether it's a cat or a dog, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Most pet owners take once a month as a general rule of thumb, but that's not necessarily true. It comes down to different factors such as activity level, breed, surrounding environments, and more.

Dogs

Breeds matter a lot for dogs.
  • Short coats like Boston Terriers, Dachshunds, and French Bulldogs shouldn't be bathed on a regular basis. Their fur coats can effectively get rid of excess dirt and oil. That's why you rarely ever notice them smell bad.
  • Oily coats like Basset Hounds may need to be bathed once a week. Their skin can get pretty greasy otherwise.
  • Water-resistant coats like Newfoundland, Labrador Retrievers, and Otterhounds require fewer baths. Give them a nice brush every now and then to distribute natural oils.
  • Double coats like Akitas and Chow Chows also need fewer baths. Brush them often as you would for water-resistant coat breeds.
This goes without saying but if your dog is outdoorsy and spends a lot of time rolling around in dirt, grass, or mud, give him a bath. But don't overdo it because bathing too often can get rid of healthy oil that protects their skin.

Cats

Cats are very good at self-grooming for the most part. Their guts are also strong enough to ingest dead hair, dirt, and even parasites.
Broadly speaking, there are three conditions in which they'd need to be bathed.
  1. Your cat comes into contact with toxic materials (e.g., paint, oil, and antifreeze)
  1. Your cat suffers skin conditions like seborrhea
  1. Your cat is obese or has other health issues like arthritis that curbs their natural grooming ability
Generally, it's recommended to bathe a cat at least once or twice a year. But take the following factors into account:
  • Lifestyle. Outdoorsy cats require regular bathing as often as every other month.
  • Coat Type. Short-haired breeds can get away with annual bathing. Long-haired ones? Every few months. Hairless? Even more often since the oil residue on their skin tends to leave stains on fabrics.
 

Bathing Instructions

Dogs

  • Start by thoroughly brushing your dog from head to tail to eliminate excess fur and dirt.
  • Dogs are sensitive to heat. The temperature of the water should be warm enough but colder than you'd like for a shower.
  • Use the right product. Natural dog shampoos are gentle on the coat and skin. However, if your dog has an oily coat, consider opting for a stronger product.
  • Massage the shampoo thoroughly into your dog's coat, paying attention to areas with thick fur or visible dirt. Avoid getting shampoo in their eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Rinse thoroughly. Excess shampoo can cause dry skin. Try to be gentle because dogs aren't keen on getting sprayed.
  • Don't use a blow dryer - Air dry after patting them down with a towel.
  • Your dog just went through an uncomfortable process. Give him a treat.

Cats

  • Tire them out. The more mellow your cat, the better.
  • Trim the nails in advance so that you don't get scratched to death.
  • Brush first to get rid of hairballs and loose hair
  • Place a cotton pad in your cat's ears to keep the water out.
  • Use a rubber mat to prevent your cat from slipping.
  • Use a hand-held sprayer with warm water (not hot!). Do not directly spray your cat's eyes, nose, or ears.
  • Mix shampoo (cat shampoo is always recommended) and water in a 1:5 ratio. Thoroughly apply the mix from head to tail. Avoid getting it into the eyes, nose, or ears.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water until there's no residue.
  • Wipe your cat's face with a wet washcloth.
  • Dry your cat with a large towel and untangle her fur by brushing with a comb.
  • Your cat just went through an uncomfortable process. Give her a treat.
 
Now that you know how to bathe your pet properly, it's time to put your knowledge to the test. We wish you the best of luck!