How Often Should I Wash My Dog?

If you have a furry best friend, then you’ve probably wondered, “How often should I wash my dog?” This is really up to the owner’s choice since there is no standard guideline. Some dogs haven’t had a bath in ages yet they don’t develop an unpleasant smell. Other dogs that spend lots of time in the outdoors may benefit from having more frequent baths. When in doubt, just follow these simple guidelines.

A clean dog is a happy companion. However, dogs certainly don’t need daily or even weekly baths to be clean enough. Some pet parents rarely, if ever, bathe their dogs without any harmful effects. On the other hand, dogs with certain skin conditions may need to be washed more often. If your dog does have a troubling skin condition, then it makes sense to consult a trusted veterinarian for recommendations. Certain conditions may make weekly baths a wise choice, at least during times when the skin disorder is flaring up.

However, if your dog doesn’t have a skin condition that requires special care, then you could potentially wait weeks or even months between dog washings. Many owners let their noses be their guides. When their pup gets stinky, he gets to have a bath. Others simply take a good look at their dog. When their hair looks dingy or seems to have an excess of dirt clinging to it, then it’s bath time.

These are good, common-sense guidelines that will keep your dog clean enough without drying out his skin. Excessive bathing can cause itching and irritation, so it’s best not to wash your dog too often. Also, keep in mind that most dogs don’t consider a bath as pampering. Many of them become apprehensive or anxious in the tub. Accordingly, if you’re bathing too often, you’re not only drying out your dog’s skin but also causing him undue stress. A slightly dirty but happy dog is a much preferable companion to one that is nervous and high strung but very clean.

Treating Fleas

Many people use bath time as an opportunity to treat and repel fleas. A shampoo that is formulated to kill fleas can bring your pup some much-needed relief. After the bath, many pet parents apply a topical flea treatment. These formulations typically rely on the natural oil that occurs in your dog’s skin and hair to spread, which increases their efficacy. If you bathe your dog too often, then you risk lessening the effectiveness of the flea treatment. That’s because shampoo strips away the oil in your dog’s skin and coat. When you are battling fleas, it may be necessary to use a shampoo that is formulated not to strip away oil so that your dog can be clean while also benefitting from an effective flea treatment.

Baths are also a good opportunity to check your dog for any changes in appearance of condition. If you brush your dog on a regular basis, then you probably already look for skin or coat problems, missing hair, parasites, fleas or unusual skin masses. However, when your dog is wet, his hair lays down flat, giving you a better perspective on any changes that have taken place. If you do notice any skin masses or other worrisome changes, it’s best to alert your veterinarian immediately. It may turn out to be nothing, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

If your dog doesn’t particularly enjoy baths, then you may be looking for excuses to bathe him less frequently. In this case, you may benefit from brushing your dog more often. Brushing doesn’t have to be a major, time-consuming chore. Spend five to 10 minutes per day or every other day to make it a quick and easy habit. Your pup will get used to the regular grooming and may even come to enjoy it. Brushing prevents your dog’s hair from clumping and matting. It also helps to get rid of dirt, burrs, seeds and other outdoor items your dog may have picked up on his adventures. Best of all, brushing helps to distribute the natural oils in your dog’s coat. This may make his hair look shiny and healthy.

Breeds that have longer hair may need more intensive brushing sessions while dogs with shorter coats won’t need as much attention. Nonetheless, it can be worthwhile to brush dogs that have short hair because it usually cuts down on shedding. The really good news for owners of short-haired dogs is that they are a breeze to brush and they do not require frequent washing. They are a low-fuss alternative for pet parents who don’t want to spend a great deal of time grooming.

Monthly washing is all that’s necessary for owners who want their pooches to be exceptionally clean. If your standards aren’t quite as high and your pup isn’t particularly stinky or doesn’t get into any big messes, then a bath every three months is a good rule of thumb.

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Before putting her in the tub, give your dog a thorough brushing. This helps to get rid of any loose hair and mats. You can use a sink or the bathtub to wash your dog, depending on her size. Some people buy a special tub to bathe their dog outdoors. This may make sense for you depending upon how big your dog is and the state of the weather. Whatever tub or sink you use, it isn’t necessary to completely fill it with water. Three to four inches of lukewarm water are all that is necessary.

It may be wise to place a towel on the bottom surface of the tub to help stabilize your pup in the water. Sinks and bathtubs can be slippery surfaces, especially when they are wet. This puts a lot of strain on your dog’s muscles and tendons. This is particularly true for older dogs who may be very much in need of something to grip onto during their bath. You definitely don’t want to risk a fall in the bathtub.

A spray nozzle or plastic cup can be used to thoroughly wet your dog’s coat. Use care as you do this, as it’s best not to get water in her nose, eyes or ears. In fact, many pet parents place cotton balls in their dog’s ears before putting them in the bath. This is an especially good idea if your pooch is prone to ear infections.

Time to Shampoo

Now, it’s time to shampoo. While you may be tempted to grab your bottle of shampoo, think twice before doing so. Dog shampoo is specially formulated to meet the unique needs of your pup’s skin and coat. Because dogs do not have the same pH as humans, it follows that soaps and shampoos that are designed for humans may strip and dry out your dog’s coat and skin. If you do use a human shampoo, your dog’s skin can become red and irritated. He may become excessively itchy and scratch himself to the point of creating open, bleeding sores. This is an extreme reaction, but it can happen if your dog has especially sensitive skin.

Even a shampoo that is formulated for dogs can be irritating to your pup’s eyes. For this reason, you may want to avoid shampooing her head altogether. Use a wet washcloth to clean this sensitive area instead. If your dog’s eyes seem to be particularly prone to irritation, consider asking your veterinarian for a sterile eye lubricant that can be applied prior to bathing and will protect your pet’s eyes throughout the process.

Rinse your dog thoroughly using a spray nozzle or by filling a plastic container and dumping water over her. Once again, avoid the eyes and nose. Your dog definitely won’t like having water poured over her face, and it can cause irritation and potentially even ear infections.

Most dogs prefer to be dried off with a towel. However, some pups learn to like the blow dryer quite well. If you want to try blow drying your dog, remember to use the low heat setting and don’t pause for too long at any one spot. Blow drying makes some dogs anxious or uneasy. If this is the case with your pet, simply stop using the blow dryer and go back to the towel.

If you’ve been wondering, “How often should I wash my dog?” you’ll be glad to know that you can let your nose be your guide. If your dog has developed an unpleasant smell, then it’s time for a bath. Similarly, if your dog’s coat is looking matted and dingy, then a good washing may be in order. Other than that, giving your dog a bath approximately once a month or every three months is typically sufficient.

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