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For us, bathing and showering are regular activities and, more often than not, they’re relaxing. That’s not typically the case with dogs. Dogs naturally groom themselves and many consider the noise and confinement of bathing to be highly stressful. While most dogs don’t need daily (or even weekly) baths, soaping and rinsing your dog is an important part of keeping their skin and coat healthy.
How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?
In short, it depends. Several factors can help you determine your dog’s bath schedule:
- Activity Level: An active dog will require more regular bathing than a sedentary one, especially if they love the outdoors. Active, long-haired dogs are most likely to need baths after playing outside. Celebrity dog groomer Jorge Bendersky notes, however, that some short-haired dogs will only need “a good rubdown with a damp washcloth” after high-activity periods.
- Coat: The length and type of your dog’s hair is a major factor in determining their bathing schedule, but even some short-haired and hairless dogs need regular baths. Certain breeds (the Xoloitzcuintli, for example) require a bath every week to keep their skin healthy.
- Health: Dogs with certain conditions need regular baths to keep symptoms manageable. If your pup suffers from persistent itching or allergic reactions, baths with an oatmeal-based soap or shampoo can help them stay comfortable.
You and your family’s health could also dictate how often you give your dog a bath. If someone’s allergic to dander or your dog regularly tracks allergens through the house, semi-regular baths can help alleviate the issue.
3 Dog Bath Best Practices
Baths will take some getting used to, but these tips can help you reduce potential messes and stress:
- Gather Your Supplies Ahead of Time: You won’t want to leave your dog unattended once you’ve filled up the tub. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’ve got everything you need (dog-friendly shampoo, towels, washcloths, brushes, etc.) before they hop in.
- Clean From Tail to Head and Rinse from Head to Tail: As you lather in your dog’s shampoo, start from their hindquarters and work your way toward their face. Rinse in the reverse direction. If your dog gets any soap in their eyes, rinsing them face-first will ensure it’s flushed out as quickly as possible. Take care to follow the instructions on the bottle and be particularly careful around your pet’s face and ears.
- Wash Your Dog “By Hand:” When it comes to water, temperature is only one factor to keep in mind. A high-pressure spray or steam can startle your pet and make bathing an unpleasant experience. Professional groomer Jocelyn Robles recommends using a detachable shower or faucet head (if possible) and “letting the water hit the back of your hand first” as you rinse. This way, your dog will feel a comforting touch throughout the process.
3 Dog Washing Mistakes to Avoid
- Picking the Wrong Shampoo and Soap: Selecting a shampoo or soap from off your own shelf may be tempting. Even products designed for sensitive skin, however, could irritate your dog and cause symptoms like hives and itching. Keep in mind that dog shampoos aren’t all the same. Talk to your veterinarian or another expert for help making the appropriate choice.
- Drying Too Quickly: Don’t be hasty when it comes to drying your dogs fur. After all, you don’t want them to soak the floor or shake themselves dry in your living room. Stick with towels rather than using your blow dryer. Jocelyn Robles notes that it’s often challenging to regulate a blow dryer’s airflow and temperature. That’s not to mention their potentially frightening sounds.
- Going It Alone: Not every pet parent has the skills, space, or equipment necessary to bathe every type of dog. If you won’t be able to keep your pet clean, consider finding professionals within a reasonable price range.
When in doubt, consult your veterinarian. They’ll offer bathing and grooming tips that suit your dog’s breed, activity level, and unique needs. Overwashing your dog can be just as bad as underwashing them. Your veterinarian will make it simple to maintain the appropriate schedule and technique.