How often should you wash your dog? Bathing a dog can be a pretty exhausting process – no matter how well-behaved your pet tends to be. With that in mind, most of us would rather avoid popping the pooch in the tub too frequently.
Of course, we also know properly looking after our dogs means making sure they stay clean and happy. So, where’s the balance? How do you tell the difference between bathing your pup too frequently, or not enough?
Here’s everything you need to know about the best frequency for washing your dog.
How Often do Dogs Need a Bath?
The good news is unless you’re giving your dog a dip to cool them down, get rid of something smelly, or address a specific problem, you don’t need to bathe your pooch too often. Dogs have sensitive skin (far more sensitive than you’d think). Bathing them too often removes the natural oils from the skin responsible for preventing itching and dryness.
While you should definitely follow your vet’s advice for the most part, most dogs can get away with having a bath every month (or less). The longest you can generally leave a dog between baths is usually around 3 months. The only reasons to bathe a dog more frequently than once a month are:
- They have a skin condition: Certain skin conditions will require regular medicated baths. Follow your vet’s advice when grooming your pup with sensitive skin, and remember to use an ultra-soft towel to avoid harming the skin with scrubbing.
- They rolled in muck: If a trip to the great outdoors left your dog covered in dirt and grime, you may have to give them a bath ahead of schedule. Assess the situation carefully and determine whether a full bath is really necessary, or whether you can simply patch-clean a small amount of your dog’s fur.
- They’re extra warm: If your dog is too warm during summer you can give them a sort of “bath” by allowing them to run around or lay down in a paddling pool. This isn’t the same as using shampoo or conditioner on your dog’s fur, so it won’t have the same impact as a typical bath.
- They aren’t very well: If your dog is poorly, they may have bathroom problems, or vomit, which means they end up covered in mess. In this case, more regular bathing may be necessary. Just be careful not to stress your dog with the process.
Planning your Dog’s Bathing Schedule
Keep in mind, different breeds can sometimes require different care. If your dog has a unique coat, it may require more regular baths. For instance, longer coats can become tangled and messy a lot faster than shorter coats. Maintaining your dog’s fur with regular grooming can help to reduce the need for frequent cleaning in some cases.
There are even some breeds, like the Peruvian hairless dog, require extra bathing compared to most common breeds, because their skin can produce excess oils. Additionally, dogs with corded coats, like Komondors, require less bathing because the cords effectively repel water.
Planning your dog’s bathing schedule means considering their unique coat and skin carefully. Ask your vet if you’re not sure about the best options for your breed. If you have a standard dog, you should be able to plan for a bath every month or so. If your dog seems to not need this bath as frequently, you can go down to a bath every two months.
Choosing the Right Kind of Bath
One point to keep in mind is if your dog needs a wash in between baths in your general schedule, this doesn’t necessarily mean they need a full bath. A good dog bathing session should include everything from a full shampoo and conditioning session, to washing your dog’s face (carefully) and his paws.
Once you’ve finished washing your pup, you should wrap him up in a towel, and brush through his fur to make sure there are no tangles.
If your dog doesn’t need a full bath, you can protect the oils on their skin by giving them a “spot cleaning” session instead. This involves simply cleaning the part of your dog’s fur that’s messy. You can use a towel or a flannel to help with this process. Another option is to try and brush any dirt out of your dog’s fur or use a water-less shampoo to get rid of unwanted mess.
Whenever you think, you might need to change your bathing schedule, ask yourself whether a full bath is really necessary. The more you can avoid giving your pup a comprehensive bathing session, the more you can protect their skin comfort.
Getting your Pup Used to Their Schedule
Remember, sticking to a regular schedule isn’t just a good way to protect your dog’s skin and fur, it can also be a useful tool in helping your dog get used to a bath. If you follow the same guidelines every time you’re going to bath your dog, they’ll become more used to the idea of having a wash on a monthly, or bi-monthly basis.
If you need help getting your dog used to their bathing schedule, try the following tips:
- Use treats, love, and support before, during and after the bathing session to help reduce any anxieties your dog might feel, and get them relaxed for bath time.
- Have a dog drying bag or large towel ready so you can wrap your dog in something warm when they’re done with their bath. This will help to prevent them from panicking or feeling uncomfortable when they get out of the bath.
- Take it slow and introduce your dog to water as gradually as possible. Don’t simply direct the shower at your pooch and expect them to stay calm.
- Remember to keep the water warm, but not hot, so you can avoid scalding your pooch. Pet your dog and run your fingers through their fur to keep a close eye on the water temperature.
Good luck getting your dog’s bathing schedule ironed out!