How Often Do I Wash My Dog? Advice for Pet Parents

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Girl giving Lab a bath in tub (caption: how to bathe dogs)Splish splash, does your dog need a bath? Most humans shower once a day, but how often should you wash your dog? We’ll get down and dirty with the facts on how to keep your furry friend looking fresh and clean to ensure a happy, healthy pup.

How often should you bathe a dog?

Is your dog starting to smell a little funny? Is her normally shiny coat looking a little dull these days? If so, you’ve probably been asking yourself, “How often should you bathe a dog?” The answer isn’t as cut and dry as you may think.

We’re about to cover each of the factors that you’ll use to determine just how often you’ll be breaking out the dog shampoo. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know exactly how often to wash her, what to use, and how it’s done.

Why you should bathe your dog

The reasons to bath your dog are unique to their breed, activity level, environmental exposures, and so on. The truth is that your dog would likely be just fine without a bath. As you may already know, most dogs don’t care for bath time. Many patiently wait for the experience to be over and others give their owners such a hard time they avoid bath time as much as the dog does.

There are several reasons to bathe your dog, however. If your dog has a habit of rolling around in the dirt or grass they’ll be, well, dirty. You may have an avid swimmer who likes to chase birds into the local pond or lake where the water may be less than pristine. To top it off, your dog may be one of the especially oily breeds that tend to smell a little too “doggy” after a while.

There are reasons beyond simply maintaining a clean, fresh smelling pooch too. In warmer months fleas and ticks can be a big problem and bathing can help to kill parasites and alleviate the itching associated with their bites.

When bathing helps

There are many different types of skin conditions in dogs. Allergies, parasite infestations, hormonal imbalances and autoimmune diseases can all affect your pet at any age.

Conditions such as fleas, mange or a skin allergy upset the balance between the bacteria, which normally live on the skin, and the immune system that usually keeps the bacteria in check. This can develop into an infection, making your pet’s skin uncomfortable and itchy. When your dog scratches he can break the skin and the tiniest wound can become infected. You’ll probably know this because his skin may become scaly, scabby and sore, and he might start to smell very ‘doggy’. Look out for hair loss, red inflamed skin, and pimples too.

As your vet may have advised you, regular bathing and shampoo therapy are essential in helping to keep these sorts of skin conditions under control. It’s particularly helpful for allergic reactions to food and environmental allergens (allergic dermatitis), which can cause dandruff and yeast or bacterial infections.

Shampoo therapy for allergic skin disease works by removing allergens from the skin, rehydrating it, and normalising the number of bacteria and yeast found on its surface.

Get a routine going

Bathing once a week will help relieve pain and itching, and increase healing and recovery from any infections. Once the infection has been treated, either with antibiotics or in many cases with a cream, you should be able to reduce bathing to every two weeks. Although it’s always a good idea to check in with your vet first.

In rare cases, such as if your dog suffers from MRSP (the dog version of MRSA, a type of bacteria that’s resistant to antibiotics), your vet may advise you to bath him daily for a certain amount of time.

Why Regular Baths Are Important for Your Dog’s Health

Let’s start with the basics. If your dog looks or smells like they need a bath, it’s probably time to give them a bath. Just like with a person, hygiene is important for your dog, says Dr. Katie Billmaier, DVM, a shelter veterinarian at Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic & Ranch in Jupiter, Florida.

Not only do regular baths get rid of dirt that’s collected in a dog’s coat and make them smell great, but they also keep their skin healthy, too.

“Bathing your dog is more about maintaining a strong defensive shield around their dog than merely enhancing beauty,” says Dr. Ward. “After all, the skin is your pup’s largest organ and needs to be kept clean and healthy in order to provide a protective barrier to the environment.”

So if baths are that important for your dog’s health, how often should you be doing it?

Article Overview

According to a study1, 56% of pet parents don’t bathe their dogs as frequently as they should, and 60% use the sniff test when deciding when it’s bathtime.

Bathing your dog isn’t just good for their hygiene. It’s also an excellent chance to check for unusual scratches, bumps, fleas, and other abnormalities. These things are easier to see when their hair is wet and flat against their body.

But how often should you wash your puppy? There are a few factors that determine your pup’s bath routine:

  • Hair Length: Does your dog have long hair that can trap dirt and debris? Or are they short-haired and less susceptible to getting grimy?
  • Activity Level: A dog who is mostly indoors and stays out of trouble when they’re outside is probably cleaner than a dog who likes to dig holes, play in the park, roll in waste, or go swimming.
  • Allergies and Skin Conditions: Some dogs have skin allergies or other health conditions that make them prone to needing a bath more or less frequently. Learn more about dog skin allergies.
  • At a minimum, bathe your dog at least once every three months. You can wash your dog as frequently as every other week (with a gentle shampoo, it could be even more frequent). When in doubt, use your judgment — if your dog starts to smell, it’s probably time for a bath. It’s also a good idea to check with your veterinarian about how often to bathe your dog.

    Is it bad to bathe your dog every week? It can be. Your dog needs natural oils produced by the skin to promote hair growth and good overall skin and coat health. Over-bathing your dog could strip the skin of these natural oils, leading to irritation and dryness. So don’t overdo it!

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