In all honesty, washing your dog isn’t the most appealing chore. It’s wet, it’s messy, and there’s a good chance that your dog hates it more than you. As a dog owner, though, you already know that it is something that has to be done from time to time. Whether you’re trying to get rid of the smells that a dog picks up while outside playing or you’re trying to make sure that his or her coat stays healthy, you know that you need to give your dog a bath from time to time. What you may not know is exactly how often your dog really needs a bath.
As with most things involving pet ownership, there’s not necessarily one single answer to this question that is going to satisfy everyone. Though there are doubtlessly plenty of vets and dog experts who will give you a specific number, it’s more important to realize that there are a number of different variables that are going to come into play for dogs of different sizes and ages. As such, it’s a good idea to stop and take a look at the various things that will impact your dog’s need for a bath before you start pulling out your scheduling app.
The Big Factors That Determine How Often To Bathe Your Dog
Before you can start thinking about simple numbers, you’re going to have to take a look at the factors that play the biggest role in determining how often your dog needs a bath. In truth, anyone who gives you a hard and fast answer that applies to every dog is probably hedging their bets and talking only about dogs that fit into a very narrow category. As such, you need to show how a few simple deviations from the norm might have an impact on how often you need to clean your pet and why cleaning your dog may or may not be a good idea.
Age plays a bigger factor in bathing a dog than you might think. As with most things that concern dog health, there are actually bigger differences in the lifestyles and needs of puppies, adult dogs, and elderly dogs than you might think. In fact, there’s a really good argument to be made that this is the factor that’s probably going to play the biggest role in figuring out how often you need to bathe your dog.
Puppies are a bit of an odd situation, as you’re not just looking at the dog’s age but whether or not the dog is with his or her mother. A puppy that is still around his mother after birth is already getting an awful lot of care and attention, including grooming.
That said, Purina makes the case that it’s a good idea to get your puppy used to bathing sooner, rather than later. Moreover, puppies who have been brought home from a pet store or via adoption aren’t getting that same level of care. You’re going to need to take at whether or not the puppy is getting groomed by his or her mother to make an informed bathing decision.
Things are a little easier with adult and elderly dogs. Once they get past the puppy stage, dogs are largely going to depend on you for grooming. To be absolutely honest, you don’t have to bathe your dog at all after he or she reaches a certain age. Doing so does, however, give you a very good chance to take care of certain doggie odors and to check out your dog’s general health as he or she starts to get older.
If we’re being entirely realistic, the activity level of a dog is probably what prompts most dog owners to bathe their dogs. While there’s something to be said for regular baths to help control odor and ensure that your dog is healthy, most dog owners go out of their ways to ensure that their dogs get a bath whenever they engage in more activity.
The good news is that your dog doesn’t sweat and thus just running around the yard isn’t necessarily going to create any kind of body odor from your dog. In fact, healthy exercise can be a great way for your dog to keep his or her coat healthy and to ensure that he or she keeps an active immune system. The issue with activity, though, is that dogs love to get dirty when they go out and play. From running through mud puddles to rolling in things best not mentioned, dogs who are more active get dirtier more often.
The good news for most dog owners is that there is no danger in bathing your dog more frequently if he or she gets dirty. Though you may run into some issues with your dog’s natural oils if you bathe him or her repeatedly in a short period of time, the truth is that you are rarely going to do any real, lasting harm with repeated baths. In fact, a good bath after a hard bout of outside play can represent a perfect chance for you to check your dog for ticks or other parasites.
Your dog’s coat type is almost certainly the issue that’s going to make your bathing schedule a little more confusing. The good news is that those who have dogs with ‘typical’ coats – that is, coats that are short and relatively thin – aren’t going to have to spend much time worrying about how often they bathe their dogs. There’s very little that most breeds are going to have to worry about from bathing, but two different coat types will cause dog owners to have to do a bit of extra work when it comes to scheduling baths.
If your dog has a long coat, you should be prepared to bathe him or her more frequently. In all honesty, this is merely a matter of practicality. Dogs with longer coats tend to pick up more dirt and detritus and they certainly tend to have problems getting things tangled up in their fur. For that reason, you can reduce the need for frequent bathing by brushing their fur periodically, as Care & Comfort Veterinary Hospital confirms. It’s very easy for long coats to look dull and unappealing, so a quick bath with a medicated shampoo can work wonders for dogs that fall into this category.
On the other side of the equation are dogs with thick coats. Dogs like Huskies can actually get very itchy skin and dull-looking coats if they are bathed too often, as doing so washes out the natural oils on which the dog depends. While big breeds with thick coats do tend to make up the bulk of the dogs in this category, it’s always a good idea to double-check with your groomer if you note that your dog’s coat falls outside of the norm so that you can get a bit of outside perspective on bathing frequency.
Finally, you’ll want to think about your dog’s basic level of health. Many dogs don’t particularly like baths, so making your dog go through the grooming process might count as an unnecessary stressor when he or she isn’t feeling well. You should certainly check with your vet to see if you should still bathe your dog if he or she has undergone any major surgeries or is being treated for anything, as your vet may want you to avoid bathing or take specific steps when bathing your dog.
With that said, bathing can actually be a great way to help keep your dog a bit healthier than he or she would be on his or her own. As discussed above, a bath is a good time to check your dog for fleas or ticks and to ensure that there haven’t been any physical changes that you have missed since the last bath. A good bath can also be necessary to clean out wounds and to ensure that there are no unexpected infections.
Some dogs do have allergies to common dog shampoos, so make sure to stop bathing your dog with those products if he or she has any adverse reactions. The last thing you want is for your dog’s bath to end up being something that actually ends up causing him or her pain.
The Basic Answers – How Often Should You Bathe A Dog?
While all of the information above is going to play a role in figuring out how often you should bathe a dog, there are a few basic guidelines that you can follow if your dog is a) in good health and b) falls within the bounds of what most would consider “normal”. Try to remember that these are absolutely rough estimates of how often you bathe your dog and that your dog may be bathed more or less often based on all of the information that was discussed above.
This is still the most difficult one to pin down and it does have a lot to do with whether or not your puppy is still with his or her mother. As a rule, you really don’t need to bathe a puppy that is under eight weeks old and that is still around his or her mother. The mother dog is going to take care of all the work here and there’s really little you can or should do to help. You can, of course, give the puppy a quick bath if he or she gets into anything unusual.
If the puppy isn’t with his or her mother, the question does become a little more pressing. You should not bathe your puppy if he or she is under eight weeks old. The potential risks are too high and the rewards are honestly minimal. After he or she hits the eight-week mark, you can bathe your dog if you see fit. If you use a gentle shampoo, you can bathe your puppy as often as once a week without worrying about causing any problems.
The Average Dog
Assuming that your dog has a fairly standard coat and that he or she doesn’t have any specific health issues that will cause problems, you can bathe a dog as often as once a week as long as you use a gentle, pet-friendly shampoo. Most will recommend that you don’t bathe a dog more than once every two weeks, though the difference in the time periods is minimal enough that most people won’t notice much of a difference either way.
If you’re wondering what the maximum amount of time is between baths, you’ll be happy to note that experts tend to agree that you need to give your dog a bath about once every three months at a bare minimum. Doing so this infrequently is probably going to make it harder for you to bathe your dog, though, as he or she won’t be used to the process and will almost certainly forget that the last batch turned out just fine. With that said, there are definitely certain breeds that will benefit from getting to go a little bit longer between bathing sessions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I wash my dog once a week?
Yes, you can wash your dog once a week as long as you take a few basic steps. First, you need to make sure that you aren’t working with a dog that will lose natural oils due to the wash – this means avoiding this with Huskies or Retrievers, as well as other similarly thick-furred breeds. If you are going to wash your dog every week, you’ll also want to stop and make sure that you’re using a very gentle shampoo that is specifically designed for dogs so that you don’t end up causing any kind of irritation to your dog’s skin.
Can I rinse my dog every day?
You probably shouldn’t rinse your dog every day. This is a really good way to get rid of all of the natural oils that keep your dog’s skin healthy as well as a good way to irritate your dog’s skin. While a quick spray of water probably isn’t going to hurt your dog, doing this too often really is a choice that isn’t going to end up doing your dog quite as much good as you may hope. Try to keep your dog’s bath to once a week, if not even more infrequently for many breeds.
How often should you shampoo your dog?
This one depends on both the dog and the shampoo. If you have a relatively standard dog breed that doesn’t need any kind of special coat or skincare, you really only need to shampoo your dog either once every three months or as often as he or she gets messy. If you have a dog that needs a little more care because of a longer coat, you may need to shampoo your dog as often as once every two weeks. Again, this is largely going to depend both on your dog’s level of activity as well as his or her coat.
Do dogs really need baths?
In all honesty, bathing your dog is more for you than for your dog. With that said, a bath can be very helpful if your dog gets dirty or if he or she has skin problems that can be helped by a bath. Most vets will recommend that you give your dog a bath at least once every three months, but many dogs do benefit from getting groomed a little more often. If your dog is tracking mud through your house or if you’re noticing an unusual smell, though, bathing your dog might do you both some good.