Bathing your dog is a remarkable feat: that wet dog smell, the shake of the coat that drenches you, the rubbing on your carpet...bathing your dog is definitely a labor of love. But it's all worth the trouble when your pooch finally smells fresh and clean!

As rewarding and cuddly as your four-legged companion may seem on their freshly groomed days, bathing your dog is not something that should be done too often.

So just how often should you wash your dog?

Why Do You Need to Bathe Your Dog?

Whether you send Fido for a puptastic spa day, or you groom your mutt yourself, regular grooming has its benefits just as it does for humans.

Dogs sweat, drool, and have body odor that is not absorbed by clothing. Cleaning them reduces unwanted smells in the home. Washing your pup's pillow or bed will also reduce stenches. 

Bathing your dog is also one of the many ways to groom and nurture your dog's skin and hair. The skin is the largest organ of your dog's body. Just as we are exposed to the environment, temperatures, and allergins, so too are our furbabies susceptible to various irritants. The skin creates a protective barrier against these things that can impact your pup's overall wellness. which is why it's important to give it proper attention. Neglecting your dog's need for good hygiene can often lead to infections or bacteria/yeast growth.

Nail clipping and ear care every few weeks are also essential and have a huge part to play in your dog's wellbeing.

However, there are numerous other reasons why regular grooming is a necessity for your dog:

Their Coat Requires Regular Care

The hairier the dog, the more work you'll have to invest in its care. Curly hair is especially susceptible to catching knots, burrs, foxtails, and all sorts of debris.

If you brush your long-haired lassy often, then her coat can remain in good condition without a regular bath. On the other hand, pets that have minimal hair often need additional skincare to avoid dry skin conditions. 

Change of Season

Dogs that have thick double coats and shed seasonally need to be brushed often during their shedding season. The double coat manages to stay clean by itself mostly, and brushing dust and debris out will encourage the production of healthy, natural oils. Bathing your dog can also help loosen shedding hair. 

Skin Conditions And Allergies

Some skin conditions that affect pets can only be treated with prescribed shampoos and products. Dog eczema and dandruff can be itchy and irritating for your puppy and is often caused by an allergen in their environment. It could be something in their food, a product you use, a plant they play in, or an insect bite. Talk to your vet about the best treatment and grooming practice. 

General Wellbeing

Yeast infections, obesity, and parasites can also affect the condition of your pet's skin and hair. If your dog has a chronic illness, and you notice a difference in their skin or hair, then you can ask your vet if it is a typical symptom. Canine hair changes throughout their life, and so as they become older, their grooming needs may become more intensive. 

Diet

A poor diet is never worth the penny you've saved on it. Giving your puppy a diet that is rich in healthy oils and nutrients will show in the condition of their coat. Make sure your pet always has access to clean water as well, as hydration is vital to maintaining moisture balance in the body.

Lifestyle

Exposure to different temperatures, humidities, and toxins in the environment will be different for a homebody than it would be for an adventurous herding dog. Consider the environment that your dog lives in and clean them accordingly. A puppy that is often getting messy on outings can also receive a rub down with a damp cloth and a good brush rather than a full bubble bath every time. If you live a very active lifestyle, and your dog is your hiking buddy, then a shorter-haired pet might be easier to maintain.

Fleas

An excellent reason to bath your dog is when they have fleas. Fleas hate water and soap, so giving your dog a good lather in the stuff can help wash some of the pesky bugs away. Be sure to also brush your pet with a flea comb to wash out any clingers. To soothe your pet's itchy skin, you can also apply coconut oil

How Often Should You Bathe and Groom Your Dog?

There are many variables to consider when it comes to cleaning your dog. Each breed and coat type is different. Compare an Afgan Hound to a Chinese Crested--their hair and skin exposure are polar opposites, yet both require regular grooming and care.

The best way to find out what your breed of dog's needs are is to research their particular breed and read up on the recommended care and grooming requirements. However, even with this helpful approach, each dog is unique. 

Often, brushing your dog's hair is sufficient. Some pet parents will wash their dogs once a week, while others can leave their dog be for a few months.

Generally, a wash every three months is good practice. In between baths, you can simply use dry shampoo for dogs or wet wipes for some much-needed freshness. 

What You Need to Bathe Your Dog:

Choose a gentle shampoo for your pet's coat and skin. Even if your furball doesn't usually have a sensitivity to products, most commercial dog shampoos are made with synthetic chemicals that can strip the natural moisture barrier from your pet's skin. Using a harsh shampoo year after year will eventually lead to dryness and brittle hair.

There are some amazing holistic products on the market today that are eco-friendly and made with plant-based ingredients, which result in a gentle but effective clean that easily lifts the dirt off your dog's coat while also keeping the dog's skin moisturized, hydrated, and healthy!

Ideally, the dog shampoo you select should be dye-free and should contain no MEA or DEA (which may form cancer-causing agents). It should also not contain parabens or sulfates, which can cause irritation and also pull the natural oils from your dog's hair and skin.

Opting for holistic alternatives that use natural ingredients is the best way to give your dog's coat the TLC it needs!

Other products to add to your puppy pamper basket and bathtime to-do list include:

  • A designated area, either a tub or a shower that fits your hound, that is easy to clean.

  • A non-slip mat if you are using a slippery area

  • Helpful toys and tools to distract your doggy, such as the Wag N' Rinse

  • A dog brush that is right for detangling or de-shedding.

  • Your shampoo and conditioner of choice.

  • An attachment hose and spray, or a portable dog bath vacuum for less mess and fuss

  • A blow drier and absorbent towels.

How to Bathe Your Dog

Prepare your furbaby. If your pup struggles with stress around the water-drenched event, then offer them some CBD dog treats or CBD oil for dogs thirty minutes beforehand to promote relaxation and calmness. Using some CBD peanut butter on their Wag N' Rinse can help them maintain a relaxed disposition as well.

Brush your dog from head to tail before you get them wet. Detangling their hair and loosening any knots or shedded hair will make it easier for the shampoo to reach their entire coat. 

Wet them with some warm water. Using a comfortable temperature will make bathtime pleasant for your dog. Additionally, use a damp cloth to wipe their face and ears instead of taking a hose to those areas. 

Massage the shampoo into their coat. Focus on any patches that are particularly dirty and don't use too much soap. 

Rinse thoroughly, avoiding the face, ears, and eyes.

Dry them off with a towel or doggie vacuum. You can use this opportunity to moisturize them with some coconut oil or give a light spray of apple cider vinegar to scare off fleas and relieve any itchy patches. 

Praise your pup for good behavior!

Things to Avoid When Washing Your Dog

Here are some things to avoid when it comes to doing bathtime properly:

Not drying them enough

Pets with thick double coats take a long time to dry, so avoid bathing them on icy days or invest in a doggy dry vacuum that extracts moisture through a vacuum while washing the dog's hair.

Water in the ears

Avoid spraying water into your dog's ears and instead wipe them clean with a damp cloth. Excessive water in the ears creates the perfect moist and warm environment for bacteria and yeast growth. The last thing you want to deal with is an ear infection. If your dog is fidgeting during bathtime, you can block their ears with some cotton balls.

Overbathing Your Dog

Regular bathing might seem like a good idea, but there is also the danger of bathing your pup too often, as it can dry out their skin. Sebum, a mixture of fatty acid, is the oily substance that is secreted into the hair follicles and onto the skin. It is the food that feeds the skin to keep it soft and moist. Sebum also has antibiotic properties. Overwashing your dog with harmful soap will strip the body of this essential fatty acid. As a result, your pet's hair will become dry and dull, affecting the skin below it.

Using Human Shampoo or Dish Soap

Just because it's good enough for you doesn't mean it's good enough for your pup. Human shampoos and products often have a high level of acidity for canine skin and coat. The pH level of your dog's skin is different from your human skin, and using your products can dry their fur. Intense fragrances or chemicals will also be harmful. Avoid dish soaps unless your dog has been rolling around in oil-based toxins or sap.

When to See A Groomer

Taking your dog to a professional groomer is hugely convenient. While doing the job yourself will save you some bucks, you might find it worth spending the cash if you can tick any of the boxes below:

  • They're fearful of water. A groomer has their tips and tricks to handling dogs who are nervous about bathtime.

  • Your puppy has particular hair grooming needs. Some dogs need attention to detail when it comes to a grooming style, especially if you have a show dog.

  • You don't want the mess. If you live in an apartment and aren't up to the challenge of bathtime, then taking your pup to a groomer will save your plush carpets from wet paws.

  • They need a full treatment. Convenience is a huge factor when it comes to hiring a groomer. They are experienced in clipping nails, cleaning ears, and giving your pet attention that you may not have the tools or time for. 

Also, if you notice any lesions, rashes, bald patches, or changes in your dog's regular skin health, then it may be time for a wellness checkup with the vet. These symptoms, as well as excessive scratching or shedding, may be a sign of underlying conditions.

Scrubbing your scruffy pup can be a great bonding experience for a dog owner and their friend.

In addition to that, giving your four-legged friend a thorough wash periodically will help nurture your dog's skin while also maintaining the type of quality hygiene that can keep infections and bacteria at bay.

And apart from all that, a healthy coat will not only catch the attention of passersby in the park, but it will ensure a healthy dog and a wagging tail!

When to Bathe A Dog: Frequently Asked Questions

Do dogs really need baths?

Bathing your dog is also one of the many ways to groom and nurture your dog's skin and hair. The skin is the largest organ of your dog's body. Just as we are exposed to the environment, temperatures, and allergins, so too are our dogs susceptible to various irritants. Bathing them helps moisturize their skin while also cleaing away any debris and smells.

Can I wash my dog once a week?

You should only bathe your dog when needed, such as when they've gotten dirty from playing outside or if they've started to smell. Overbathing your dog will only lead to dry skin, which can cause itchiness and flaking.

What happens if you wash your dog every day?

Bathing your dog too often will dry out their skin, leading to itchiness and flaking. Overbathing your dog also depletes the natural oils in their skin, which can lead to dryness and also reduce the luster of your dog's coat.

Sources

https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/procedures/dogs/bathing-your-dog https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/bathing-our-furry-friends-can-reduce-covid-19-transmission/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10200004/