When it comes to staying clean, we humans don’t mind hoping in the shower or bath on a regular basis. When it comes to our furry friends, however, things aren’t quite so simple, and a lot of dog owners remain unsure of just how often they should be breaking out the puppy shampoo.
So just how often should you bathe your dog? The bottom line is that most veterinarians and grooming experts recommend bathing your dog at least once every three months. That being said, if your pooch is a little on the dirty side, then a bath once every two weeks probably isn’t going to cause any issues. Just don’t overdo it. That’s because your dog’s skin produces natural oils that help promote both skin and hair growth, and if you shampoo once a week (or more), you’ll run the risk of removing these vital oils, which can potentially lead to skin irritation and other issues.
If you’re unsure of just whether or not it’s time, just follow your best judgment (and your nose). If your pup is starting to get a little on the smelly side, it’s probably time to fire up the suds.
That being said, while the the once-every-three-months rule is a great general guideline, there are also some other factors you’ll need to consider to help determine how often to bathe your dog.
1. Breed & Hair Length
Just like humans, the length and thickness of your furry friend’s hair is going to determine how often they need a good cleaning. Breeds with longer coats are likely to need more frequent baths, while shorter-haired breeds can probably go for longer periods. To further tangle things up, double-coated breeds like Chow Chows and Alaskan Malamutes may actually need less bathing but more brushing to keep their coats clean.
2. Activity Level
When we humans work up a sweat exercising the first thing we do is hop in the shower. In many ways, dogs are much the same. If your pooch is a high-energy breed who enjoys running outside and rolling around in the mud, then naturally he or she is going to need baths on a more regular basis (it’s either that or shell out for mud resistant furniture in your home). That fact is that active dogs tend to be dirty dogs – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
3. Allergies & Skin Problem
It’s not uncommon for many dogs to experience skin allergies and skin conditions – both of which can definitely factor into your bathing schedule. Some of the most common dog skin issues include fleas and mites, environmental dermatitis and allergies to certain foods and environmental conditions. In some cases, bathing a dog experiencing these issues may do more harm than good. If you’re concerned, be sure to speak with your vet before you wash your dog.
So if your dog seems like they’re ready to hop in the tub here are a few additional tips to consider:
- Use the Right Shampoo: Avoid using human shampoos (even baby-friendly varieties) which can irritate your dog’s skin. Instead stick with a reputable name-brand doggy shampoo. There are a ton out there on the market, including some specific to unique breeds and even skin conditions.
- Use Shampoo Sparingly: When it comes to a dog bath, a little shampoo goes a long way. A good rule of thumb is to dilute your shampoo with water using a 1:8 ratio. That should allow you to work up a good lather of suds without washing away too much of those healthy oils on your dogs skin. You might also want to avoid any homemade shampoo recipes as these can potentially cause issues if they’re not mixed properly.
- Use Lukewarm Water: You may like your showers scalding hot, but your pooch definitely doesn’t. They’re also not likely to enjoy a freezing cold shower (no matter how shaggy they might be). Remember that dog’s internal temperatures tend to run a few degrees higher than human’s, so a nice lukewarm bath is going to be the most comfortable way to get your furry friend clean.
- Brush Before & After: A good brushing before your dog hops in the tub is a great way to remove dead fur (not to mention keeping your drain clog-free). Once your dog is clean and dry, give them another deep combing. This not only helps remove mats and tangles, but will also help spread out the natural oils in your dog’s skin.
- Dry Carefully: Avoid using a hairdryer on your dog. Chances are it’s going to be too hot (again, remember that a dogs internal temperature is much warmer than ours) and you also run the risk of drying out and irritating their skin. Instead, carefully pat your dog dry with a nice, clean towel or let them air dry. As an alternative, there are hair dryers on the market specifically designed for dogs, but these are usually owned by professional groomers and can be a little on the pricey side.
- Make It Fun: Some dogs don’t like baths and will go out of their way to avoid them. The end result can be a stressful experience for both you and your pooch. Be sure to take your time and help ease your dog into things. Adding a few treats or toys during the process can even make it a little fun for both you and your pooch.
So there you have it. Everything you need to know about how often to bathe your dog. When in doubt, consult a professional and speak with your vet or grooming professional. With a little love, the right tools and a bit of patience, you’ll turn your dog’s bath time into a barking good time.
Do you and your dog live in the Ottawa area? We’d love to help bathe and groom your pooch. Contact us today to book an appointment.
My name is Kristen Wiles and I am the proud owner of Kristen’s Pet Grooming. I have spent my entire life living with and caring for animals of all shapes and sizes. From growing up with cats, dogs and livestock on my family farm, to my adult years as a professional horseback rider, animals have taught me patience, compassion and the true meaning of love. As the founder of Kristen’s Pet Grooming, I am so thrilled to be able to share my passion and to meet incredible new animals and their owners each and every day.