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Tips for a Better Bath Time

illustration of dog in bath with cat nearby

The Three Bs in Bathing

1. Be Prepared

  • Don’t say “bath.” Pets have a sixth sense when it comes to bath time. Don’t even spell the word out. Try to come up with a code word, like “balloon,” when discussing pet baths with your family. “Time to give Fido a balloon.”
  • Trim its nails before bathing. It’s much easier when your pet isn’t slippery and wet. Try using a nail clipper like this one to make quick work of it.
  • Warm up the towels. Treat your pet to a nice warm towel after bathing. Warming up a few towels in the dryer will speed up the drying process.
  • Close the bathroom door. Your pet may attempt a not-so-clean getaway.
  • Set the knobs for warm water. Make sure the temperature is just right.
  • Beware of the hair. Keep a mesh sponge by the drain to capture the excess hair.
  • Make sure you’re using the right soap. If your pet has sensitive or itchy skin, you might want to try an oatmeal shampoo. Find the shampoo that works best for your pet here.

2. Be Gentle

  • Avoid faucet fright. Water suddenly shooting from the wall can scare your pet. Use a pitcher or large cup to drown those fears away.
  • Take your time, especially when it comes to sensitive areas around the eyes and ears. Use a washcloth around the head and face.

3. Be Thorough

  • Inspect the ears. Make sure they’re dry and odor-free. Pets can get ear infections too. Ask your vet about the best cleaning method for your pet.
  • Brush, brush, brush. Bathing can really loosen the hair, so you may want to try using a de-shedding tool. Find one here.

To Bathe or Not to Bathe—Your Cat

Most cats are self-groomers, but here are just a few flexible guidelines. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian.


  • If it’s a smelly cat. A self-grooming cat can only do so much—especially after it gets into the garbage.
  • If it has health issues. Ask your vet if regular bathing can help with certain skin or coat conditions.
  • If it’s a kitten that hasn’t quite developed its grooming skills.
  • If it’s overweight and may need a little help cleaning those hard-to-reach areas.

Not to Bathe:

  • If it’s a house cat with a short coat.
  • If it smells and looks just fine.


Dilmore, David, DVM, ed. ”How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?” Accessed April 1, 2016.
Banfield Pet Hospital. “Tips for Bathing Your Pet.” Last modified October 20, 2015.
Banfield Pet Hospital. “The Skinny on your Pets Skin and Coat.” Accessed April 1, 2016.