5 steps to follow to bathe your petBack to overview
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How to bathe your pet in 5 easy steps
- Thoroughly wet your pet using lukewarm water. Do not use hot water as this can dry out your pet’s skin. The wetter your pet’s hair, the better the shampoo will lather.
- Apply a small amount of shampoo and begin to lather. If your pet has a skin condition that causes crusting of the skin and you are using a prescription shampoo, your vet may recommend a quick bath with a regular shampoo first to remove the crusted skin and allow for better contact with the medicated shampoo. Here is an example of a sensitive skin shampoo for pets. Gently lather the shampoo but try not to be too forceful as this can irritate the skin. By gently lathering and massaging the skin, you will remove a lot of debris and scales. You may need to add more shampoo as you go along. If are giving your pet a medicated bath, start bathing the areas that are more irritated first. These areas will then have the longest contact time with the medicated shampoo. Use caution when applying shampoo near your pet’s eyes, mouth, nose and ears. Shampoo can be irritating to these areas and excess water in the ears can exacerbate ear infections. To get a good lather, you may need to add more water as you shampoo.
- Allow 5–10 minutes of contact time before rinsing to ensure effectiveness. This is very important when using a medicated shampoo. Having a wet dog or cat in a tub for 5–10 minutes may seem like an eternity but you can continue massaging your pet or practice training with some treats during this time.
- Rinse well using lukewarm water. This will remove any product that could be irritating if left on the skin/hair. Rinsing also gives the skin time to rehydrate. This may take 5 minutes with long-haired breeds.
- Dry using a towel but rub gently as vigorous rubbing can irritate your pet’s skin. A blow dryer can be used on a low or cooler setting; high heat can cause the skin to lose moisture.
If your pet’s skin does seem to be drier after bathing, your veterinarian might recommend a leave-in conditioner to help moisturize your pet’s skin.
Dr. Charlie Pye
Veterinarian, Dermatology specialist at the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island.
Tips & Tricks
- This article will go through some of the do’s and don’ts of bathing your pet.