Water Temperature


Shannon Moore, NCMG Director of Grooming Education, Espree Animal Products

The normal body temperature for dogs (100.2-102.8 degrees Fahrenheit) are significantly higher than that of normal human body temperature.  Because of this, dogs and cats tolerate cooler temperatures better than humans.  Temperatures that may seem comfortable to us may not feel comfortable to the pet.  When selecting appropriate water temperature when bathing, always select a temperature that is comfortable for the pet, rather than the person bathing.

Unfortunately, there is not a universal water temperature that is ideal for all situations.  It is important evaluate the skin and coat before determining the appropriate temperature.  In general, cool to lukewarm water temperatures are generally healthier. Warm temperatures are normally drying to the skin as it breaks down essential body oils and causes the skin cells to separate.  When essential body oils are broken down, the end result is skin that is dehydrated and depleted of nutrients. Warm water temperature should be avoided if a pet has sensitive, irritated, or dry skin. Warm water could potentially cause additional irritation to the skin.

Warm water is not good for pets that have dry, irritated, or sensitive skin, but it is good for pets that have oily skin.  Warm water is a natural solution for removing excess oil therefore it is recommended for bathing and rinsing greasy skin and coat.

The final rinse when bathing a pet whether the skin and coat are dry or oily should be with cool water.  The final cool rinse allows for the remaining body oils to coagulate which, in turn, allows for proper hydration of the skin.  In addition, a final cool water rinse calms nerve endings and provides temporary relief from itching.