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Medicated Shampoo – how to use it properly

Spring is approaching and with the increase in temperature, your pets are often diagnosed with skin diseases or infections. In such condition, your vet may recommend medicated bathing and/or oral medications. These medicines must be used as directed to yield better results.

Bathing and shampooing your pet is easy to accomplish and can be done at home using the following equipment:

  • Ideally, bathtub with a spray nozzle or hose-attachment shower head is better place for bathing, but in warm weather, bathing can be done outdoors in an area with good drainage.
  • If spray nozzle is not available, plastic or metal container (bowl or small bucket) for collecting and pouring water can be used.
  • Tube of lubricant eye ointment, medicated shampoo, and towels
  • Watch/clock
  • A rack or grate for cats
  • If you have larger dogs and pets that dislike being bathed, two people should be present to help lift or restrain the pet.

Puppy in foam bath

How to bathe?

  1. Once you gather materials, firstly apply a sterile eye lubricant ointment on the surface of each of the pet’s eyes to prevent irritation of the eyes from shampoo.
  2. Thereafter, place your pet in the bathtub and prepare to soak the pet’s hair coat from head to toe with lukewarm water.
  3. Always begin soaking with water at the top of the head and down the spine for the length of the whole body
  4. Use one hand to direct the jet (or pour from a small bucket or bowl) and the other hand to direct the water deep into the hair coat when bathing thick-coated animals.
  5. This soaking can take less than a minute in thin-coated dogs and shorthaired cats, longer (up to 10 to 15 minutes) in heavy-coated dogs with dead skin, dried secretions, or other debris that soaking can help to soften and loosen.
  6. Lather the shampoo into your pet’s coat from head to tail, and leave it for the prescribed time as per product instruction in leaflet or your veterinarian. This contact time allows the medicated part of the shampoo to work; use a watch or clock to keep track of the time.
  7. Rinse well. Ensure all soap is removed. A thorough rinsing should take at least as long as the shampooing—10 minutes or more in many cases.
  8. Towel dry (do not blow dry coat).
  9. For cats, a grate or rack may be placed in the bottom of the tub; this allows your cat to grab onto something while being bathed, as many cats resent baths.

Things to remember

  • While selecting a shampoo, use what the vet has prescribed but not human product because dog or cat skin is very different from human skin. Therefore, if human shampoo is used, it may cause irritation, drying, and inflammation of the skin of dogs or cats.
  • Some medical-sounding claims are made by products available at pet stores, and indeed, just lukewarm water (hydrotherapy) is beneficial to the skin. But medicated shampoos required for treating skin diseases are prescription products and must be prescribed by your veterinarian not by pet shop owners or other people.
  • Always make sure that water is lukewarm and comfortable to the touch, particularly if the pet’s skin is inflamed or reddened as too hot or too cold can be very painful for pets.
  • Always allow the shampoo to sit for 10 minutes, or the prescribed time if otherwise indicated by your veterinarian or by the product instructions.
  • Never blow dry pet’s hair coat as applying heat may deactivate the medication that is to remain in contact with your pet’s skin.
  • Always use separate but clean towel for each pet at your home, and do not forget to wash and sterilize it after bathing.
  • Immediately after bath, the skin may appear redder because of increased circulation. Do not worry, but keep comparing the colour, temperature, and presence of pain of the skin at the same time day after day to see whether the skin disorder is improving or worsening.
  • The affected skin should begin healing within the first few weeks of medicated bathing. In serious conditions, healing may take longer. However, if you notice any of the symptoms such as increase discharge from the skin, increased redness, swelling, pain and inability to give pet a bath at any time, you should contact your veterinarian immediately for a re-check.
  • In addition, ask your veterinarian about other conditions (heart disease, respiratory disease, diseases of the eyes) if your pet has; as these conditions could worsened by the act of bathing if not well tolerated
  • If your pet shows resentment to having medicated bathing, call your veterinarian for further advice.