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.
Choosing the right dog shampoo
Once again, there is no one-size-fits-all dog shampoo. We do recommend a gentle dog shampoo or baby shampoo for most normal dogs. Natural dog shampoos are available in most pet stores and are very gentle on your dog’s coat and skin, as well as their eyes, should they accidentally get a splash to the face.
If your dog is an especially oily breed, you may find yourself looking for a stronger shampoo. Flea and tick shampoos are a good way to rid your dog of unwanted pests but should be used infrequently, as they can be very harsh on your dog’s skin.
Some dogs have very sensitive skin and may do best being rinsed with water and towel dried to remove excess dirt and oil.
How often to bathe a dog
Different breeds have extremely different bathing needs, so make sure to bathe your dog accordingly.
Short-haired Dachshunds, German Shorthaired Pointers, and dogs of similarly short coats can go a very long time in between baths. Their coats naturally shed excess dirt and oil, and they will rarely smell.
Oilier breeds, like basset hounds, may need to be bathed up to once a week. Their natural oils may also protect their skin from overdrying.
Retrievers and other dogs with water-resistant coats should be brushed clean, and you should avoid over-bathing to maintain their coat’s natural oils.
Similar practices should be used on breeds with a double coat, like the Akita, Chow Chow, and the smaller American Eskimo. The brushing also helps to distribute their natural oils and maintain healthy skin.
Rule of thumb: You can bathe your dog about once a month unless they seem smelly/dirty, or you notice it over-dries their skin.
Note: Be sure to avoid over-bathing. Dry skin caused by over-bathing can be very uncomfortable. Dogs need a certain amount of oil to maintain a healthy coat and skin.
How to bathe a dog
No matter what breed your dog is, you’ll likely be bathing her soon enough. The following steps detail exactly how it’s done.
Brush – Start by brushing out your dog from head to tail. You’ll be removing excess fur and loosening dirt. Brushing also removes knots and matted fur from longer coats that may hold water and irritate their skin.
Use warm water, not hot – Make sure you run your dog’s bath like you would for a baby. Dog’s skin is quite sensitive to heat and using the same temperature water you use will likely be uncomfortably hot for your dog.
Use the right shampoo – As described above, select the appropriate shampoo for your dog and use it sparingly. Massage it into their coats and focus on areas with thick fur or places that tend to be dirtiest. Avoid their eyes, nose, and mouth.
Rinse thoroughly – Make sure to rinse out all of the shampoo. Anything left behind will likely dry her skin. Be gentle when getting your dog wet and when rinsing. Most dogs don’t like being sprayed.
Towel or air dry – Don’t use a blow dryer. Most dogs don’t like it, and the risk of burning your dog’s skin is high. A nice pat down with a towel will do just fine. Then let them air dry in a comfortable place.
Reward them – Use lots of soft tones and a happy voice to help your dog through their bath. When you’re done, be sure to give them lots of praise and even a little treat for putting up with such an uncomfortable behavior.
When to go to the groomers?
Bathing your dog may not be easy. Sure, small dogs can be bathed in the sink or bathtub with ease, but even some of them won’t sit still for it. Then you’ve got the big boys. The ones that, with one good shake, turn your bathroom into a flood zone.
Whatever the case, you may want to bring them to a professional (or bring the pros to you with a mobile grooming service). A groomer can bathe your dog, but they can also trim nails, brush teeth, trim fur, and even express anal glands.
Most dogs don’t like to be bathed with a hose in the backyard unless it’s really warm. Most people don’t care to bring a big dirty dog into their bathroom just to add water to the picture.
If you decide it’s time to bring your dog to the groomers, be sure to check out Ruthelaine’s Grooming Salon.
You should bathe your dog according to their individual needs. You know your dog best, so pay attention to the condition of their skin and coat and you’ll have an easy time determining when to bathe and when not to bathe. Happy splashing!