A Guide to Bathing Pets After Natural Disasters

Natural disasters such as floods, forest fires and tornadoes are occurring more frequently. In these situations, substances from our daily lives—including household cleaners, pesticides, oils, and debris—can contaminate the surrounding environment, settling in standing water, or from smoke and floodwaters. can spread, increasing the risk of exposure to both humans and their pets. exposure.

Because proper cleaning procedures after disasters can reduce these risks, Dr. Deb Zoran, interim director of the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team and professor at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, offers tips on how to: How owners can best treat Clean your pets to avoid possible disease.

Zoran explained, “Owners should clean their pet’s skin as soon as possible after exposure to potentially hazardous materials because some contaminants, such as oils and some chemicals, can be absorbed through the skin, causing the pet to Animals can get sick,” Zoran explained. “Even if they are contaminated with chemicals that are not absorbed through the skin, pets can lick themselves off and ingest the contaminants or expose their pet parents to hazardous materials.”

Start of process

The first thing owners should consider when decontaminating their pets is the pet’s state of mind after a disaster, when increased fear or stress can lead to possible aggression or unpredictable behavior. With this in mind, Zoran recommends that owners bathe their pets in a quiet environment with at least one additional person, as this provides a calm and controlled environment, while reducing stress for the animal. Is.

Once all bathing supplies are collected and moved to a quiet location next to the tub or basin, owners should wear protective clothing to ensure a thorough and safe cleaning process for both themselves and their pets. can be made Zoran recommends that owners wear the following items when washing their pets because when the animal moves from being wet, the contamination will fly.

• Eye protection, such as glasses, goggles, or sunshades (if outdoors).

• A face mask that covers the nose and mouth to prevent exposure to wastewater.

• Gloves and an apron or full body covering, such as a rain suit, to protect clothing and skin from contaminated water.

After owners have appropriate protective gear, they should remove any clothing the pet is wearing, such as a harness or collar, as it will be contaminated. Any bedding that is in the carrier with a pet should also be removed and either washed or thrown away, depending on how dirty they look.

Preparing for a full bath

There are two decontamination processes, wet and dry, and while all pets will undergo wet decontamination, Zoran points out that some pets will require dry decontamination first.

“Wet decontamination means just bathing the animal, but if the pet has large, dry particles on it, such as insulation, you should start with dry decontamination, meaning you use a wet micro to remove the particles before washing the animal. Use a fiber towel, as a towel will do a better job of removing dry particles from the water,” Zoran said. “No matter the method, you don’t want to use a brush, comb, or anything that can get pollutants close to the skin.”

The wet sterilization process continues by preparing the pet for a thorough bath, first paying special attention to the facial features, including the eyes, nose, and ears.

“First, clean their eyes with a sterile eyewash or contact lens solution,” Zoran said. “Washing their eyes also makes their nose run, but if there’s obvious contamination you can clean the front of their nose. You shouldn’t try to shove anything into their nose because It is generally not accepted by pets.

“Once you’ve washed their eyes and nose, you should apply some protection to their eyes, such as sterile eye labs that are readily available at the store, so if the soap gets in their eyes It won’t hurt if I come. One problem,” Zoran continued. “In general, you don’t want to spend time cleaning a dog or cat’s ears during this process because spraying water while trying to clean their ears can push the contaminated material further into the ear canal. If There is a lot of debris, so it will probably require the help of someone trained to properly clean the ears.

After the facial features are cleared, owners should add an extra layer of physical protection to prevent unintentional damage caused by pet fear and anxiety.

“We recommend wearing a cloth or basket muzzle as an important step in preventing bite injuries because no matter how well-behaved a dog is, fearful dogs will react negatively to such situations. can expose themselves to things they normally don’t mind (e.g., bathing),” Zoran explained. .

“On the other hand, cats should not be forced, as this will create more stress and possibly make it harder for them to breathe,” he said. “Owners may need veterinary help with medication to calm cats that don’t like water or baths, but either way, gently placing a towel over the cat’s face can keep them calm while you Start getting them wet.”

Bath time

The most important step in grooming a pet is bathing them — a process that Zoran says depends on the pet’s hair type, the length and thickness of their hair, and the degree of contamination, as some material gets trapped in the coat. . Can be very difficult to remove.

First, make sure the pet’s coat is completely wet before applying soap. Zoran recommends using dish soap or baby shampoo, as they are safe, easy to obtain and very effective. Then, the pet should be thoroughly washed with clean water.

“It’s really important to wash and lather the pet with your fingers from front to back and top to bottom because if you don’t, you’re going to re-contaminate the clean areas,” Zoran said. “Once you’re done cleaning, take the pet out of the tub, drain the water, and wash their feet again, since they’ve probably been standing in dirty water. Otherwise, they’ll track contaminants elsewhere. .

Zoran encourages owners to finish the cleaning process by drying their pets with clean towels, especially if the air temperature is below 65 degrees. Pets can become hypothermic when bathed in colder temperatures, meaning their body temperature will drop too low.

Learning how to effectively bathe pets is an important skill in overall disaster preparedness. By understanding and implementing proper decontamination procedures, pet owners can successfully navigate the aftermath of disasters, ensuring our pets are safe and healthy.

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Pet Talk is a service of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be found on the web. vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics can be sent to vmbs-editor@tamu.edu.

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