Make Baths Less Frightening

Posted by Southtowns Animal Hospital on January 23, 2019

When bathing your pet, keep calm, go slow, and use plenty of treats and praise at bath time.  Also keep the following things in mind:

Water Temperature is important!
Always use lukewarm water for a bath.  Too hot can cause burns, and too cold is just plain unpleasant.  Either situation can create a negative association with bathing and grooming in the future.

Harsh Spray.
A sprayer is very handy to wet down fur and rinse away shampoo, but the harsh spray on an animal’s skin can be uncomfortable, especially for cats.  If you do use a sprayer, have the water spray the back of your hand, and use your fingers to massage and wet the fur.  Be gentle and soothing.  The hissing noise of the sprayer can also be scary.  Try using a cup to wet down and rinse your pet instead.

Loud Sounds
Water running full-blast into the tub in a small confined room like a bathroom can be terrifying, especially for cats.  Try having the tub already filled and ready instead, or have the water running very low, to minimize noise.

Too Much at Once
For many people bathing their pet also means brushing, combing and a nail trim.  Brushing out mats and tangles is an important first step before a bath, but can be a bit painful.  Try a two or three step approach.  Brush in the evening, and then bathe the next morning so that the bath isn’t associated with the uncomfortable de-tangling.  The same is true of a nail trim.  Try doing that on a different day from the bath.

Dangerous Dryers
The best way to dry is to use towels to blot as much water from the animal’s fur as possible.  An animal’s coat can soak up a surprising amount of water, so have several thick towels handy, and use them to get the pet almost completely dry. The noise of a hair dryer is scary to an animals sensitive hearing, and can cause burns.  If you must use a hair dryer, use only the low and cool settings, and keep the warm air moving to avoid burning the skin.

Slipping and Sliding
The slippery surface of a bathtub can make an animal feel extremely insecure.  Lay a towel in the bottom of the tub to improve traction or use a rubber bath mat to make your pet feel more comfortable about standing in the tub.

If you have any questions about bathing your pet or if your pet has any sort of skin issues or severe matting, call the hospital at 824-4108 before proceeding.  Some skin conditions and heavy matting can be painful, and addressing these first will make future baths better experiences.

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