Bathing Dogs and Cats

Bathing Dogs and Cats


If this topic sends you into your closet, shivering in a huddle in the dark, take heart!  There are ways to make this less traumatic.  Let’s start with definitions.  You get into the stall/tub; get under the running water and once wet, lather up before rinsing thoroughly.  That is called a “shower.”  Now consider a tub partially filled with comfortably warm (or cool) water; get in, stretch out and continue to fill until happy.  Once you are all wet and ready, suds up, rinse (and maybe rinse again in fresh water).  That is called a “bath.”


Here is the reveal – we say we bathe our pets, but we usually truly shower our dogs and we should be bathing our cats!  Sometimes experimenting with individual preferences for the water temperature works wonders.  An allergic dog being rinsed of allergens after an outing in the fields may enjoy cooler water; a couch potato canine may prefer warm (to us almost hot – remember their body temperature is 4-8 degrees hotter than ours).  Test it out when you need to do your dog frequently.


For example, my folks had 2 allergic dogs living in Florida with them.  After walks, the dogs did better if rinsed of pollens, etc.  When dad did the rinses, 1 dog was happy and the other less so; when mom did the rinses, 1 dog was happy and the other less so – but it turns out it was different dogs happy.  Once I got them to compare their techniques, they realized the older dog liked cool rinses and the younger dog liked warm rinses.  So they adjusted the water temperature for each dog regardless of who did the rinsing and the dogs began to compete for who got to be the first dog into the tub for their rinse.


Now, let’s consider cats – don’t run away!  Plan your feline’s bath; get plenty of towels, a “tub” container, a rinsing cup, access to water to fill and then refill the tub, shampoo, etc.  Put at least 1-2 inches of WARM water in the tub; if testing on your inner wrist (like a baby’s bottle) it should be almost hot to your senses.  Gently lower your cat into the water and once calm settles, continue filling the tub.  Pet your cat and allow him/her to feel comfortable and settle down.  Usually by the time the tub is full, the cat is lounging in the water with their head resting on an edge.  Use the cup to help spread water all over the cat.  Once thoroughly wetted, shampoo (do not pour shampoo onto your pet – dog or cat; you will use too much.  Wet your hand, put shampoo into your palm and rub between your palms then transfer to your pet.).  Rinse what suds you can into the bath water; start draining the sudsy water and refilling (at appropriate temperature) with clean.  Rinse cat as much as you can.  Be sure to completely rinse shampoo from all skin; you may have to use the cup to do a little “showering.”


With forethought to have all your supplies within reach and using the right temperature water with the right technique, your times cleaning your dogs and cats could turn into happy bonding times.