Sprucing up your pet for the holidays ahead

By Dr. JoAnne Roesner, DVM, DABVP Loving Hands Animal Clinic – Alpharetta

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are making sure our homes and families look their best for the months ahead. And many of those efforts extend to our four-legged family members, as well!

Our canine children can often become soiled or smelly and may require a do-it-yourself cleansing bath to truly make the best impression. Despite the reluctance of your pet to take the plunge, the process is relatively easy at home.

During the colder weather, it’s best (and easier) to bathe your pet in the shower or tub. During warmer months, pets can be bathed outside, but fall and winter necessitates bathing indoors.

First, it is important to use a good quality dog shampoo – one that is formulated for pet hair and not human hair! Start with a wet dog. If you don’t have a spray nozzle in your tub, you can use a cup or pail to pour rinse water over your pet.

It is crucial to protect your pet’s eyes from contact with soap. This can cause damage to the surface of the eye. Bathing the face with a sponge or washcloth or covering the eye with an ointment can prevent harm.

It is also important to dry out the ears after bathing because water in the ear can cause irritation and head shaking and predispose your pet to possible infection.

If you want to trim your dog’s nails, it is easier to do this right after a bath when the nails are soft.

After towel drying, pets who are not afraid can be dried with a blow dryer. If that is not possible, air drying in a warm area is fine.

Alternatives to bathing at home include using a professional pet groomer or utilizing a dog wash facility where you can have someone else do it – or do it yourself with their equipment. The groomer can do haircuts, dyes and nail polish as well as just cleaning up your dog. Dog washes have equipment like step-in tubs, ramps, and driers that make bathing more convenient and less messy than home.

As far as our feline companions, cats are inherently good groomers and rarely require bathing or grooming. Typically, they do not accept bathing as well as dogs, and can be quite difficult and resistant during bathing. Some cats even require sedation for bathing, so a discussion with your veterinarian may be in order. In these instances, veterinary clinics use professional groomers in the event sedation is required. This is probably the best choice for cat baths. ■


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