By Mary Oquendo
Miss a part of this series? Click Here to read part 1 and Click Here to read part2!
In Part Three of this series, focus is on the health and safety of the bathing area. The three important elements are the pet, the tub, and the environment.
The bath water should feel cool to your touch. The normal body temperature of a pet is between 100.4 and 102.5 F, whereas our normal body temperature is between 97 and 100 F. Water temperature that is comfortably warm for us is too hot for pets.
Use shorter tub loops for dogs. You do not want any leeway for a dog to jump out of the tub. Never leave a pet unattended while bathing. Do not use loops on cats, as they are far more agile than dogs and can easily jump out.
Walk-up ramps will help get the larger dogs into the tub without injuring either yourself or the pet, which is especially important with arthritic dogs. Keep in mind that a pet in pain may bite.
Tub grates and orthopedic mats are great for the smaller dogs, cats, and arthritic pets. The tub grates will raise the smaller dogs and cats, so you do not have to continually bend over the tub and strain your back, but tub grates by themselves can cause problems. Toes and nails can get stuck in grate holes. Cats like to grip and can injure themselves on the metal. The orthopedic mats cover the grate holes and are soft enough for cats to hold onto safely. I use the combination of mat and grate with arthritic pets. The mat alone, even the ones with the holes in it, traps the soapy water underneath. It makes it difficult to rinse their feet fully.
Wash used towels in bleach, Clorox 2 (it contains peroxide), or hot water that is at least 140–150F. Most hot water cycles on a washing machine do not get that hot unless it has a sanitize cycle. Water fills the air spaces of fibers, causing bacteria to multiply, and a tenth of a gram of fecal matter can contain 100 million E. coli cells. Detergents do not kill E. coli, hepatitis A, norovirus, or rotavirus. In fact, if you do not bleach or sanitize, you will spread it to the entire laundry load and all the laundry done afterwards.
Decide what products and tools you will need before you place the pet into the tub, and have them within arms’ reach. Keep clutter to a minimum.
Rinse the tub in between pets to remove all the biologicals. The biologicals are hair, blood, urine, and feces. They are the common vectors for transmission of contagions.
If you use a re-circulating pump, run shampoo through to push out the biologicals before washing the next pet. In addition, if you wash a cat after a dog, then you want to be certain that all the dog shampoo is out of the re-circulator beforehand. Run 50/50 water to vinegar through the pump at the end of the day to remove soap scum build-up.
Install non-slip floors and floor drains. This is a wet area. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), approximately 20,000 people die each year from slip and falls. In addition, 20–30% of slip and falls result in broken bones, head injuries, fractures, and bruises. For many of us, being hurt and out of work means no income.
Install GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) outlets. I have some more fun facts for you. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) estimates that there are 350 electrical-related deaths a year. Electrocutions can cause heart attacks and burns for both you and the pet.
Wrap up dryer cords and hoses when not in use to prevent trip and falls.
Store unused towels in a bin or cabinet until they are needed to keep biologicals off of them.
If you pre-mix shampoo and conditioner, mix up enough for the day only. Bacteria will begin to breed in water as soon as it is no longer sterile. Distilled water is not sterile. Contaminated products used on the pet force bacteria into open follicles, potentially causing bacterial infections including furunculosis. Furunculosis is difficult to treat and can be fatal.
Use tongue depressors or ice cream sticks to use spa products instead of wet fingers. You can find them at any craft store.
Store gallons away from the tub. You can use a pump or plastic wrap over the opening to keep water and hair out of the gallons.
Food-based shampoos, such as oatmeal or therapeutic-grade essential oil products, have a shorter life span than their counterparts. Ask the manufacturer what the shelf life is on their products.
Clean, disinfect, and dry all reusable bottles including the pumps. ✂
In Part Four of this series, the focus will be the drying area.