There are some things that influence how often you should bathe your dog. Some dogs are easy to bathe thanks to their coat type, while others may have coats difficult to wash.
There are also special considerations and preparations for bathing dogs with corded coats and other unique coat types.
How frequently you bathe your dog can be good or bad, with a variety of advantages and disadvantages for both frequent bathing and scattered bathing.
Understanding how often you should bathe your dog is the first step to ensuring your dog is clean, happy, and healthy.
Bathing the Average Dogs
Dogs with a short coat, moderate activity level, and good health do well with a bath every four weeks. Because short hair allows loose debris and hair to fall away, these dogs tend not to be as “dirty” as dogs who have longer fur.
Dogs who are only somewhat active, or spend considerable time inside stay cleaner than active dogs who live, work, or otherwise spend most of their days outdoors.
Healthy dogs who do not suffer from skin conditions, injuries, or other health issues rarely need frequent bathing.
The average dog with a managed coat, moderately active lifestyle, and no health issues should do well with a decent bath once a month.
It is important to remember, though, that despite only needing a bath every four weeks, your dog will still need some basic grooming and hygienic upkeep.
Small things like trimming your dog’s nails, brushing your dog’s teeth, or cleaning out your dog’s ears are super important and should be performed much more often than the monthly bath.
If your dog gets dirty from a romp at the park or runs through the mud on a rainy day, it is best to wipe them down with a damp rag or hose off their feet. It should perform these acts besides regular brushing and trimming, as well as any professional grooming your dog receives.
Bathing a High Maintenance Dog
Dogs with a long or thick coat, active lifestyle, or skin conditions may need more frequent bathing anywhere from once a week to every third week to stay clean and healthy.
The longer a dog’s fur is, the more likely it is to catch dirt, debris, pollen, fungi, or mold. These foreign objects can become trapped in your dog’s fur, causing tangles and mats to form, or trapped against your dog’s skin, potentially causing skin irritation, injuries, or even infections.
Dogs who are active, or work outside, will be dirtier as they spend more time in grass, dirt, fields, woods, or other unclean surfaces.
Another major factor in your dog’s bathing schedule is the health of their skin. Dirt and debris can worsen skin irritations, injuries, and infections, which makes it super important to keep dogs with these conditions clean.
Just like humans, some dogs can be prone to having oily skin, which further traps foreign objects and grime in the fur.
For dogs in situations like these, there are a couple of things that can improve your bathing routine, but one of the best things you can do is take your dog to a professional dog groomer.
Long or Thick Coat Dogs
Dogs who have a long or thick coat may benefit from seeing a groomer who can help manage the dog’s fur through combing, trimming, and fur treatments.
Besides helping care for your dog’s skin and fur, your groomer may recommend an ideal haircut or give you advice on keeping your dog clean. Although groomers can help with caring for ongoing skin conditions, your veterinarian is the best person for any injuries or infections your dog may have.
Most groomers can soothe your dog’s allergies, irritated skin, oily skin, or even dry skin with medicated or specialized bathing products.
Bathing Dogs with Unique Coats
Some dogs have a coat that is not short or long but has other qualities that make it unique. Corded coats are like dreadlocks on people and occur when the dog’s rough top coat wraps around sections of the soft undercoat.
Although corded coats should not be brushed, they still require a lot of maintenance; the cords need to be separated regularly, all dirt and debris have to be removed by hand, and the formation of mats should be prevented.
- Typical bathing of dogs with corded coats is not possible since the cords repel water and make both scrubbings and rinsing the dog quite difficult. Some breed experts and groomers alike maintain that corded coats are best handled by a professional.
- If you are determined to bathe your corded dog, set aside plenty of time and understand the bathing process. It is best to use a very diluted shampoo and gently work the soap around and into the cords to cleanse the skin and fur.
- Thorough rinsing is important, so the fur should be rinsed until the water runs clear and there is no slip on the coat, skin, or cords. Fully drying the dog is both the most important and difficult step of the bathing process.
- If the dog is left only partially dry, bacteria or mold could start growing on the dog’s skin and fur. Starting with a towel, the body and cords should be blotted to dry up as much excess water as possible.
- Using a kennel dryer or fan after towel drying is recommended to speed up the drying process since it can take anywhere from three to twelve hours for a corded-coat dog to air dry.
How Experiences Shape Bath-time
Bathing is one of the many things we teach our dogs to tolerate for the greater good. Some dogs enjoy the water or attention and are happy to have a bath, but others tolerate the bath, and others still will do anything possible to avoid being bathed.
A large part of our dog’s perspective is their overall experience and treatment during bath time.
If you take it slow with your puppy, keep them comfortable, and make it fun, chances are they will grow up very tolerant or even fond of bath time.
But a pup who is handled roughly, dunked in too hot or cold water, or otherwise traumatized during their bath will grow up to be fearful and resistant to bathing. Even adult dogs’ perspectives are shaped similarly, so calm, mindful bathing should be a top priority when bathing any dog.
Having a cooperative dog in the tub makes an enormous difference in the time and effort required for the bath, not to mention less frustration, stress, and a better overall experience for both the dog and bather.
Should You Wash Your Dog More or Less Often?
Although bathing your dog frequently should seem like a no-brainer, some dogs are better off being bathed more while others should be bathed less. Just like humans, dogs are individuals with unique needs and preferences.
Let’s start with the pros and cons of bathing your dog frequently, either once a month or more often as needed. This will keep your dog and home cleaner and smelling good too. It can also help prevent potential skin conditions by allowing the skin to breathe properly rather than being affected by clogged pores, itching, or oily skin.
Dry skin, however, can be caused or worsened by overwashing your dog, since it strips the natural oils from their skin and fur. The bathing experience, which many dogs consider unpleasant and stressful, can be even more difficult to tolerate if performed too often.
Bathing your dog less frequently is also an option and has its own advantages and disadvantages. One of the most common reasons to stretch the time between baths is because the dog has dry skin, which is exacerbated by the shampoo used or the bathing process.
Bathing your dog strips their coat of its natural protective oils, so you should only wash them as needed. The reason people bathe their dogs is that they get dirty, stinky, and or oily, which is not only unhealthy for the dog but also unsanitary for the people and environment around it.
Final Thoughts on How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog
The frequency at which you decide to bathe your dog will be your judgment of whatever best suits their needs and your preferences.
If you feel uncertain about the best grooming or bathing for your dog, you can always reach out to your veterinarian or groomer for advice.
There isn’t a schedule that works great for every dog, so finding what works for your dog has to be done through trial and error.
Once you find it, though, you will be right on track for keeping your dog happy, healthy, and clean.
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