When it comes to giving your dog or cat a bath, even the most well-researched pet parents can Mistakes During Bath-Time, which doesn’t make you a bad owner! Every pet has specific needs and levels of comfort during bath-time, and it’s your job to be conscious of what those are, especially if your pet doesn’t like water.
But, no matter the pet, some bathtub’s mistakes are prevalent. Here are 5 of them, along with tips to help you avoid them and keep your pet happy and clean!
Not protecting eyes or ears from water Mistakes During Bath-Time.
One of the first things you should do before giving your pet a bath is a plan. To avoid getting water (and soap!) in their eyes and ears. Even if your pet enjoys playing in the water, getting unwanted water in the eyes or ears can mean game over in the bath. It’s mostly really uncomfortable for your pet, but in some cases, moisture in the ears can cause gnarly infections.
The most natural place to make a mistake here is when you’re washing your dog or cat’s face. Instead of running water over your pet’s head, try using a wet washcloth. Some people will even go as far as putting cotton balls in their pet’s ears to protect them. Especially cats that have exposed ear canals, compared to many dogs who have a floppy or folded ears as natural protection.
Forgetting to pay attention to water temperature Mistakes During Bath-Time
Aside from eyes and ears, it’s not fun getting water anywhere on your body if it’s too hot or too cold! Paying attention to the water temperature is essential to ensuring that a bath goes smoothly, especially if your pet is uncomfortable around water.
When you’re distracted with soap and trying to keep your pet in the sink or tub, it can be easy to turn the faucet on the wrong way. Burning your pet with hot water or shocking them with a freezing spray is something that they will remember forever. Making it harder to get them to cooperate next bath-time.
Not taking the time to find the right shampoo.
Many pet owners assume that their own shampoo will do the trick when bathing a pet. But dogs and cats have unique skin that is quickly dried out by shampoo meant for humans.
For most dogs and cats, anything marketed for pets or with an oatmeal base will work well. The best way to find out what is right for your pet is to talk with your veterinarian. If your pet has underlying skin conditions that need to be considered or treated with medicated shampoo.
Drying your pet improperly.
Drying your dog or cat is one of the most important parts of giving a bath. Failure to dry your pet off will cause discomfort and chills. During the winter, colds can cause your pet to fall ill.
A fool-proof way to do this without scaring your pet with the blow-dryer is to use a towel. A blow-dryer can be really helpful if it’s cold but pay attention to how your pet reacts to it. If it’s evident that your dog or cat is uncomfortable with the blow-dryer, don’t use it.
Mistakes During Bath-Time Yelling or punishing your pet
Whether you are bathing or drying, you should NEVER yell at or punish your pet during bath-time. While an uncooperative pet can be really frustrating. Taking that frustration out on your pet will only make the dog hate bath-time more. Making it even more challenging to get the pet to cooperate the next time around.
Instead, use positive reinforcement to praise your dog or cat when they are cooperating during bath-time. Keep treats handy to let them know when their behavior is acceptable or to simply distract them. Avoiding your own adverse reactions to the experience will increase the likelihood that your pet remembers a positive experience in the bathtub.
Our canine companions may not require a daily shower. But they still need regular grooming and bathing routines to keep their coats healthy and clean.
So, how often should you bathe your dog? It depends on a couple of different factors.
First, consider your dog’s coat. Breeds with shorter, oily coats—such as Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and Dachshunds—generally require less time at the spa. “This type of coat tends to resist water and dirt due to the nature of the fur configuration. Protective oil coating” says Dr. Beverly Mason of Dedham Veterinary Associates in Dedham, Massachusetts. A bath once every 4-6 weeks should suffice, provided the dog is not unusually dirty.
On the other hand, breeds with hair coats that can grow long—including Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, and Shih Tzus—may require more freshening. “Hair coat bathing needs vary depending on style, texture, and length,” says Mason. “Dogs with hair kept at ‘show length’ may need weekly bathing and grooming to prevent tangles and clean off dirt picked up from the ground.”
Mistakes During Bath-Time
Too many baths can strip the natural oils from a dog’s fur, leading to dry skin, itchiness, and a dull coat. For these reasons, it’s essential not to over-bathe your dog. “I tell people to bathe their dogs only when needed. Unless they need bathing for a medical reason,” says Dr. Ashley Tittle of Eastown Veterinary Clinic in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “You should bathe them a maximum of once per week.”
So if your Lab smells fresh, can you forgo bathing altogether? Not quite. Bathing is an essential part of your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. “If you’re covered in dirt, your skin can’t breathe, then you can have more issues with infection or irritation,” says Tittle. “Keeping your dog clean will make him less likely to have parasites and other skin issues.”
For dogs with specific allergies, dry skin, or skin diseases, consult with your veterinarian about how often you should bathe your pet. If your dog requires frequent baths for a medical condition, Mason notes that there are special shampoos that are safe to use daily.