A few days ago, I received a question about whether bathing a young child and a dog together in the bathtub is a bad idea.

It’s not really something I had considered before because, despite having 3 kids and 2 dogs, it’s never crossed my mind to toss them in the tub together. Anyway, I guess it’s a reasonable question since apparently some people are doing it. So, here’s my thought proces:

Is there a risk?

Sure. We know there’s always some risk of disease transmission when interacting with an animal. Generally, the risk is quite low and therefore the pet contact is still worth it because of all the other positive aspects, but in some situations, the risk goes up. We know that risks are higher with young children, and that bacteria present in the intestinal tract of dogs are probably the most common issue.

Is the risk a realistic concern?

Yes I think so. When a dog is bathed, presumably there’s going to be some contamination of the water with fecal-origin bacteria from the animal’s rear end and/or haircoat. There’s also a pretty good chance that contaminated water would be ingested by the child, considering how often toddlers put bath toys in their mouths or drink the water.

What’s the benefit?

Of bathing a child and dog together? None that I can think of.

Is it an avoidable risk?

This one’s easy. Yes. Don’t bathe pets and children together. That’s the best way to avoid the risk and seems like a common sense recommendation to me.