6-9 March 2025, The NEC Birmingham

How to bathe your dog (and yes, even your cat)

Dog being washed

If you’ve never bathed your pet before, it may seem a bit daunting at first. But if you want your pet to smell sweet and have a clean, shiny coat, then inevitably you’ll need to get comfortable with giving them a bath from time to time. Regular baths are also a good opportunity to check your pet for any unusual lumps, bumps or fleas. 

Giving your dog a bath 

Firstly, it's important to remember that not all dogs need to be bathed often. In fact, giving your dog too many baths can strip the natural oils from their coat, causing dry and itchy skin. A good rule of thumb is to give your dog a bath at least once every 2-3 months. That said, if your dog loves to play in mud or has rolled in something particularly smelly, then a bath is in order. 

Get everything ready

Before you have a wet dog to contend with, it’s important to make sure you’ve gathered all the necessary supplies first. This includes dog shampoo and a towel at the very least. If you’re bathing them in the bathtub, adding a non-slip mat to the bottom of the tub can help them avoid slipping over. If your dog has long hair, consider giving them a brush first while they’re still dry, to free up and loosen fur or matting. 

Next steps

Once your dog’s in the tub, use lukewarm water to wet their coat thoroughly. Be sure to avoid getting water in their ears, eyes and nose. Apply dog shampoo and lather well, starting at the neck and working your way down to the tail. Rinse thoroughly, making sure to remove all the shampoo. Any soap left behind can irritate your dog’s skin, so don’t be afraid to rinse them off multiple times.

After the bath

Once they’re done in the bath, use a towel to dry your dog off as much as possible. If they have long hair, you may want to use a hairdryer on a low setting instead, to prevent their hair from matting. Finally, give your dog a good brush to remove any remaining loose fur.

Giving your cat a bath

Cats are known for taking their personal grooming seriously, and generally they don’t need our help in this department. However, they may occasionally get themselves into a messy situation that they can’t resolve themselves, or they may have a medical condition that requires frequent bathing. So, despite what you may have heard, sometimes cats need a bath. 


You can bathe your cat using similar techniques to those used for bathing a dog. 


Before you begin, remember that cats are sensitive to water and taking a bath may make them very anxious or stressed out. It's important to remain calm and patient, and to make sure the room is warm and quiet to help keep them at ease. Consider putting a harness on your cat and tie the lead to something sturdy, like the tap, to make it easier to control them and keep them in the tub. If they try to jump out, you can easily use the lead to guide them back in.  


Another useful tip - ask a friend to help you. They can help by handing you things you may need, like soap or a towel.  


How to wash your cat

Start by filling a sink or tub with lukewarm water, making sure the water level is shallow enough for your cat to stand in. Use a cup or spray nozzle to wet your cat’s coat, making sure to avoid wetting their face. Apply a small amount of cat shampoo and lather well, avoiding their eyes and ears. If you need to wet their face, just wet your hand and dampen their face a little. Rinse thoroughly, making sure to remove all the shampoo. Try to keep the bath as quick as possible. Dry your cat afterwards with a towel and if they have long hair, consider using a hair dryer on a low setting.  

If your cat is terrified of water, or if you are struggling to get them in the bath, contact a professional pet groomer or your vet for more advice.