How often should we bathe our pets? We have one dog and two cats and we don’t know how often anyone needs to be bathed.
Questioning Pet’s Hygiene in The Heights
Dear Questioning Pet’s Hygiene,
Anyone who lives in close quarters with pets know that they can get stinky from time to time (and they’d likely say the same about you!). Cats typically don’t need to be bathed as often as dogs, however, older or obese cats may benefit from bathing to help keep their coat and skin healthy. It’s important to bathe dogs regularly to keep their skin healthy and happy but the frequency of these baths depends largely on the breed of the dog and the condition of their coat.
“Dogs without dermatological abnormalities benefit from a bath a couple of times a year or when they get dirty,” says Dr. Alison Diesel, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “However, dogs with skin problems often require more frequent bathing and sometimes benefit from specific kinds or medicated shampoos. If your dog has a skin problem, you should discuss bathing recommendations with your veterinarian.”
Though your veterinarian can examine your pet’s skin during a routine check-up, sometimes skin abnormalities can develop between appointments. If you notice any abnormalities while bathing or grooming your pet, you should have your pet examined by a veterinarian. Some noticeable changes might be increased odor and dander and may result in discomfort or itching in the animal.
“In addition, animals with long hair are prone to matting. This can irritate the skin and result in wounds when removed or clipped out,” Diesel said. Furthermore, “pets with long hair are at higher risk for fly strike and acquisition of maggots hidden within the mats and under the hair coat. These creatures can further damage the skin, causing wounds, infections, sepsis and potentially death,” Diesel explained. More severe or persistent skin conditions may benefit from examination by a boarded specialist in veterinary dermatology.
Another important part of proper pet hygiene is keeping your pet’s ears clean. Most pet owners regularly bathe their pet to maintain their coat, but clean ears are just as important and should be part of your pet’s normal hygiene routine. When cleaning your pet’s ears, Diesel recommends saturating a cotton ball with a veterinarian approved ear cleanser.
“Gently place this in the dog or cat’s ear canal and massage to help deliver the solution along the length of the canal,” Diesel said. “An additional cotton ball can be used to wipe out excess fluid after the animal shakes their head. Q-tips should never be used to clean a dog or cat’s ears as this can lead to potential damage of the ear canal.”
If you feel uncomfortable taking on the task of caring for your pet’s hygiene yourself, look into getting them groomed professionally. Groomers can bathe, trim nails and clean the ears (in addition to giving haircuts) and get your pet’s hygiene in order, allowing you to do a simple maintenance cleaning in between groomer appointments. This saves you the time and worry about bathing your pets correctly and ensures that your pet is in tip top shape.
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