How often should you bathe your dog or cat?
Bathing your dog during the summer is usually an act of necessity: heat, mud, and puddles or lake water can leave your dog less than fresh. But what about the rest of the year?
Continue reading to find out how often you should bathe your pet, what to consider when developing your bathing schedule, and some tips and tricks to make bathing efficient and fun.
The importance of a consistent bath routine
As with us human folk, regular bathing will ensure that your pet’s coat is clean, reduce oil and dirt buildup, and minimize odor.
Bathing is also a great trust-building activity with your pet and allows you to inspect your pet’s coat for fleas, lumps, and other areas of concern.
The general rule of thumb is to bathe your pet once every two to three months.
Your bathing routine will depend on three key factors:
Your pet’s coat texture and length. For example, dogs with double coats require a more strict brushing routine as opposed to bathing.
Your pet’s lifestyle and temperament. A Pug that enjoys a luxurious, sedentary lifestyle will require far less grooming than an athletic German Shepherd.
Any skin conditions. Overbathing can exacerbate irritated skin, cause flakiness, and cause tangles and matting.
Some cats need baths
It might seem weird to think about bathing your cat. After all, cats are notorious for grooming themselves meticulously and frequently.
But some cats might need help bathing if they can't properly groom themselves or if there are extenuating health issues, such as fleas or ticks.
And because cats are often scared of water, you’ll want to take your time building trust and going through the process so it can be calming for everyone involved.
Where to bathe your pet?
Many dog owners buy special tubs for pet bathing or use a sink or bathtub. If you go the bathtub route, you’ll want to put down a non-slip mat for stability. Fill the tub with a small amount of water, and feel free to use your detachable shower head if you have one. Although, you may want to steer clear of running water with cats.
You can also make bathing a fun and silly experience for your dog (and the family) by taking out the kiddie pool.
Keep in mind, though, that a dog will enjoy being blasted with cold water just as much as you would, so use discretion and only use the outdoor hose on very hot days.
Tips and tricks for easy bathing:
Start ’em young. The sooner you start introducing your dog — or cat — to bathing the better. It’ll take them some time to get used to it and earn your trust, so be patient and persistent.
Use a gentle pet-specific shampoo. You can even get some that are formulated specifically for your pet’s coat texture and length. Be mindful of getting shampoo in their eyes or other sensitive areas, and pay attention to cleaning any folds and creases in their skin — that’s where yeast and other gunk can build up!
Brush up. Help minimize discomfort by brushing through any tangles or mats before bathing. This also will redistribute natural oils, which can help avoid dry skin or a dry coat.
Speak gently. Ease your pet’s anxiety by speaking calmly to them, as you would a child. Remember, bathing isn’t part of their daily routine, so they’re not used to it. Keep calm so that the process is a positive experience.
Sweeten the deal. If your pet is particularly averse to bathing, make it tempting with treats as a reward. They’ll learn to associate bathing with a tasty snack and likely become more receptive to it.
Know your limits. Pets with behavioral issues, skin problems, or a delicate coat may need a professional groomer. Groomers usually also provide extra services, such as nail clipping, gland drainage, and are better equipped to stabilize your pet during the process. And, for skittish cats, a groomer may be your best bet.
Bathing your pet can be a fun experience, but we know it has the potential to be stressful too. Vetster’s licensed veterinary professionals are available 24/7 and are happy to provide bathing advice and tips tailored to your pet.
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