While cats are notorious for cleaning themselves on a routine basis, dogs do not indulge in the same habits. It's up to owners to see to their dogs wellness and make sure their pups are getting the tender loving care they deserve. However, many dog owners are unsure about how often dogs need to be bathed. Let's clean up the confusion so your pooch can look and smell their best at all times.
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How many baths does your dog really need?
The main rule of thumb for bathing your pup is pretty simple – a dog doesn't really need a bath unless they are particularly dirty or smell bad. Frequent bathing is only necessary if the dog is suffering from a skin condition that requires routine baths.
For most pups, a monthly bath should suffice. Some dogs can go longer between cleaning at about two to three months. Dogs also have natural oils in their fur that can become stripped if washed too often. This can lead to dry, irritated skin which will cause your dog to itch and scratch and in particularly bad cases can lead to skin damage and infection. To keep your dog healthy and happy, you want to avoid over-washing as much as possible.
Different coats and skin types
There are some exceptions to the rule that dogs only need to be bathed about once per month. A lot of this has to do with the skin type and coat length of the pup as your dog's fur plays a role in how often a bath is needed.
Medium and long haired dogs can typically go without a bath for four to six weeks. Short haired dogs can usually go longer without being washed, as far as three months between baths. The type of hair on your pup is also a critical factor in deciding how long you should wait to give them another bath. Some types of dogs have fur that is known to effectively repel dirt, while other types are great for attracting dirt instead. The oiliness of the fur is a big factor in whether or not to bathe the dog on a regular basis.
Fur isn't the only factor to consider. Some dogs have more sensitive skin than others which will also play a role in determining how often they need to be bathed. In many dog breeds, the length of the fur works to protect the skin from contaminants, toxins, and bacteria. Those pollutants are then trapped in the fur and discarded when the dog sheds.
Dogs that are hairless or have very short coats don't have the protection of their longer-haired counterparts, so more frequent bathing may be required. For these pups, dermatological concerns such as blocked pores, skin discoloration, pimples and even blackheads are a much more common concern.
If your pup has developed a skin infection or some other temporary skin disorder, a veterinarian may prescribe a medicated shampoo to help that condition heal properly. The frequency of the bathing could require multiple treatments two to three times a week. However, this will be based on the vet's diagnosis of the disorder.
Activity level and overall health
The lifestyle of your dog can also determine how much bathing is needed. If your pup likes to run, play, and get into all kinds of muddy puddles, sandy beaches, and other wet, dirty environments, then you may need to clean your pooch more often than usual.
If your dog stays indoors for the most part, and only gets sporadic exercise during long walks and the occasional romp at the local dog park, then you may be able to get away with fewer baths. Time spent outside doesn't always mean your pup is dirty. A quick wipe-down with a damp cloth can be just as effective at removing surface dirt and grime.
Active dogs may need more cleaning and grooming than dogs with a less energetic daily routine no matter which breed they might be or the length of their coat. Dogs who shed more frequently can also be bathed more often to speed up the shedding process more effectively than simple brushing.
Although there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding how often to bathe your dog, in general once a month should be enough. If you have concerns about your dog's coat, or you’re noticing that they’re getting dirty more frequently, consider contacting your vet or a groomer about your dog's specific grooming needs.