Since cats are relatively self-cleaning, they rarely need to be bathed unless they get into something really messy or sticky. Dogs, not so much.

All dogs, including yours and mine, get dirty sometimes or have a medical problem, such as parasites or dandruff. Then they need a bath. Medicated or anti-parasite baths are probably best done by your veterinarian or a professional groomer. Otherwise, you can bathe your dog at home.

Many dogs enjoy a bath and are very co-operative. However, others don’t and will do everything they can to avoid one. If your dog is one of those, there are several things you can do to make bath time more fun and less stressful for everyone involved. Most important, be calm and patient with him.

First, dress to get wet. You will undoubtedly get wet. Brush all loose hair off of him before you begin so it doesn’t clog your drain. If your dog is small enough you can bathe him in the bath tub. To keep from getting a wet, soapy path from the tub to your favorite chair, shut the bathroom door before you start. A big dog can also be washed in your tub, but when the weather is warm enough, it might be easier to wash him outside with a hose, a bucket of warm water, a sponge, a place for him to shake the water off and several big towels.

Never force your dog to get into the bath tub. Always give him a chance to get into the tub willingly. Start by putting some of his favorite toys into the bathroom and tub. You could also feed him some of his favorite treats. Gradually coax him into the tub with the toys and treats. A rubber bath mat will keep him from slipping and make him feel more secure. Gradually he will begin to feel comfortable and be willing to stay in the tub longer.

Gradually add some warm water-not hot-to the tub and let him play with the floating toys. Add more water a bit at a time. Then, begin splashing him a bit. Wet him a little more. The idea is to let him feel like bath time is a fun time with you and not a punishment.

When he is comfortable with the tub and water add a small amount of shampoo formulated for dogs. If you can’t find any, use baby shampoo. A drop of mineral oil or eye ointment in each eye will protect his eyes. Massage the shampoo throughout his fur. Avoid getting it in his eyes or ears. Rinse the shampoo thoroughly from his fur. You can use a cup or a gently spray attachment.

Dry him with a towel. Hair dryers can be frightening to some dogs. There, you’re all done. At least for a week or two.

The Pittsburg County Animal Shelter is located at 1206 N. West St. in McAlester. The hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. The phone number is 918-423-7803. The adoption fee is $20 for dogs and $15 for cats. All have been neutered or spayed, vaccinated and microchipped.