Making bath time fun for your pets

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When it comes to bath time for cats and dogs, there’s three types of players. The first will sit there and grimly endure, but won’t lose their cool. The second type actively loves bath time – some love it so much you eventually grow bored and leave them to splash until they’re done. Last but the opposite of least, you have the pet that turns into a tornado of claws and flailing limbs, that will attempt to scratch and claw their way out – if you can even get them in the tub in the first place.

Long haired, outdoor dogs will usually require more bathing than their short haired counterparts (you can use your nose to determine when they need a wash, unless of course they’ve rolled in something sticky or they are especially dirty).

Cats are pretty good at keeping themselves well groomed, so you won’t need to wash them unless they are visibly dirty or smell. Grooming them with a brush will also help them stay clean without needing the water.

Don’t wash your pet for the sake of it, as too much washing can irritate their skin. Also use a quality pet shampoo product, as those designed for humans will also irritate their skin.

Tricks to make bath time less traumatic

While it’s unlikely you’ll turn a fighter into a lover, there are steps you can take to make bath time more fun for the reluctant wash-ee. Here’s how to make it more manageable:


  • Don’t draw it out. If you have habits unique to wash time (filling a certain tub outside, getting the shampoos and taking them outdoors, for example), make sure you are ready to wash your pet immediately after you get the area ready for bath time – otherwise your reluctant-to-be-cleansed pal will have time to work themselves up.
  • Get organised – if your pet doesn’t like the hissing water of the hose, fill several large jugs or bowls with warm water to put by the tub, and fill it with a small amount of water before they get in. Now you can gently wash them by slowly tipping the water over them from a jug.
  • Use a non-slip mat in the bottom of the sink or bath, this will prevent them slipping over and submerging their face or ears.
  • Begin lathering from the rear end on up, praising all the while. Now rinse in the same fashion.
  • Gently wash their face by dabbing with a clean cloth. This will also help keep water out of their eyes and ears. If your pet will tolerate it, you can also put cotton balls in their ears to help keep water out.
  • When you are done, bundle your pet up in a warm towel and gently pat dry – unless you have a dog that loves a rougher rub down – in which case, go nuts!
  • Reward their fabulous bath etiquette with a tasty reward to build positive association with the tub.

Got a really reluctant bather? Talk to your vet or an animal behaviourist to get to the root of the issue – while they don’t have to love a bath, a strong and persistent issue with bath time may mean there’s more to the story that needs to be addressed.


WATCH: Dr Al's tips on getting ready to wash your dog



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