Spring has arrived which means rain and dirty pets. So many times in our veterinary office we get asked things like: How often can I bathe my pet? Can I use human shampoo? Why does my dog get an ear problem after bathing or swimming? Well, here’s the answers to your bathing questions!
First thing to remember when bathing your pet, whether it’s a dog or cat, is that if the water is hot to you, it’s hot to the pet also. Don’t use scalding water, it is possible for you to burn your pet if the water is too hot. In the same aspect you don’t want the water too cold and make your pet chilly. Make sure that the water gets completely through the hair coat, especially if you have a dog whose hair repels water. Keep the water out of their eyes – remember, if you wouldn’t like it your pet doesn’t either. A good idea is to just avoid water in the face at all. You can use a wet washrag to clean their face and ears with.
When choosing a shampoo, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian to ensure that you are using a correct shampoo. You do not want to use a human shampoo unless specifically directed to by your veterinarian. They can be very drying and make your pet incredibly itchy. The pH of a human’s skin is different than your pet’s skin. A good choice of shampoo is an aloe based one. These are very hydrating and do not damage your pets’ skin. If your pet has allergies, your veterinarian may suggest an allergy shampoo. Be sure to work it in very well to get all the way down to the skin to get the best possible results. Many shampoos recommend leaving it to sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. This allows all the oils (or medicine if it’s a medicated bath) to soak into the fur and skin. For the face you can put some shampoo on a washrag and rub around the muzzle being careful to avoid the eyes. Rinsing is very important. Be sure to thoroughly rinse your pet – shampoo left on can cause irritation and sometimes scalding (depending on the shampoo). Using a fresh wet washrag wipe off any shampoo from around the face.
After the bath (before letting your pet out of the bathtub) be sure to flush the ears. You can get a good quality ear flush from your veterinarian. Flushing the ears does a couple things. First, it cleans out any wax or debris down in the ears. Second, it cleans out any shampoo that may have gotten into the ears during bathing. Finally, and most important (if you have a good ear cleaner that has a drying agent in it) it will dry out the ear to prevent ear infections from starting. Fill the ear canal with the flush and massage the base of the ear thoroughly. Then allow your pet to shake their head. Anything they shake out you can wipe away with cotton ball, but never go down into the ear canal with q-tips. This can cause damage down inside the ear canal. Also, many of your homemade ear cleaners can be painful (since they generally consist of vinegar, peroxide or rubbing alcohol ) , especially if the pet’s skin is already irritated in any way. Remember, if it would hurt or burn you, it does the same to your pet.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding bathing your pet or their skin in general, please do not hesitate to call our office at 410-848-3100.