Add complete, 24/7 vet care
As the days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and more and more stores and events open back up, canine companions everywhere are itching to get outside and get their paws dirty with exploration and play. But as fun as these adventures are, they tend to require more frequent trips to the tub.
Especially in this season, many pet parents wonder how often they should bathe their dog and the best ways to go about it. Although the frequency and details vary from dog to dog, the basics are somewhat the same. Fuzzy veterinarians are always glad to offer pet parents some bathing and dog grooming tips.
Wolves don’t make trips to the bath or groomers, so why is it necessary to bathe their domesticated counterparts? There are a few different reasons that dogs need regular bathing:
To keep living areas and furniture clean
To help manage both pet parents’ and dogs’ allergies
To help manage a dog’s condition(s)
To keep shedding at bay
To eliminate unpleasant odors
It provides a chance to monitor a dog’s health
There are other aspects of dog grooming that are actually more important to dog skin and coat care and overall dog health than bath time. For example, every dog benefits from monthly ear cleaning and nail trimming as well as frequent coat brushing.
The first step of washing a dog is to choose a container. Whether it’s a plastic tub outside or a bathtub with a mat attached to the bottom to help reduce slipping, the important thing is that the dog feels secure, can stand up for the entirety of the bath, and won’t slide around. Pet parents should consider using a kitchen sink for very small breeds.
As far as dog shampoo goes, there are a lot of options to choose from. Pet parents should avoid using products that are intended for human use, as human skin is different and less sensitive than a dog’s. These and other harsh shampoos strip the oils and fatty protective layers from canine skin and can cause itching and other issues.
Overbathing can also be a problem. If shedding is a concern, pet parents should choose a shampoo that’s specially designed to reduce shedding — this will help prevent oil-stripping the essential oils that keep their skin hydrated and coat healthy. Following up with a good dog-friendly conditioner will also ensure a dog’s fur stays moisturized and soft.
There is no single answer for how often a pet parent should bathe their dog. It depends on factors such as:
The type of coat a dog has (hairless, short hair, medium hair length, long hair, double coated)
A dog's outdoor activity and soil level
Pre-existing skin conditions
Because hairless or short-haired dogs have less opportunity for dirt to get trapped in their fur, less washing is generally required. However, that isn’t true for all short-haired or hairless dogs across the board, according to the American Kennel Club. The Chinese crested and Xoloitzcuintli breeds, for example, are quite care-intensive and require weekly washes and daily skin wiping.
Dogs with medium to long coats typically require anywhere from one bath per week to once every four to six weeks. For dogs with fur on the longer end of this spectrum, additional grooming is usually needed between washes.
For dogs with seasonal and thick or double coats such as golden and Labrador retrievers or Siberian huskies, the optimal frequency of baths tends to fall somewhere in the middle.
Dogs that like to jump in muddy puddles or dig in the dirt are going to require more frequent baths than those who stick to the sidewalk. Yet even if a dog is dirty, a complete bath with shampoo and conditioning isn’t always necessary. For short-haired breeds, a damp washcloth to rub the dog down and remove any dirt will usually do the trick.
While some conditions require more bathing, others require less. In this case, a vet should provide a regimen detailing a dog’s specific grooming requirements. For example, with dogs that have skin diseases, washing tends to dry out their skin and should be limited. For dogs with allergies, bacteria, dandruff, or yeast infections, baths may help provide some relief.
Unfortunately, “how often should you wash your dog?” doesn’t come with a simple or straightforward answer. The frequency of baths largely depends on each dog’s breed and temperament, as well as their parent’s personal preferences. To read up on more dog health advice, check out other dog health and wellness articles today.