While your dog may be your best friend, let's be honest about one thing. Sometimes, he can get a little stinky. Not to mention, if you have a furry pal who loves the outdoors, he probably also gets quite dirty. However, it isn't always that easy to determine how often should you wash your dog.
Some dogs don't seem to get as dirty as others and may not even get really stinky, but all dogs need bathing occasionally. Since every dog is different, it can help to learn a bit more about what signs tell you it's time for a bath as well as some general advice for how often should you wash your dog.
Reasons to Bathe Your Dog
Some people may think that there isn't a true reason to give a dog a bath, but when your dog is part of your home and living inside with you, baths become quite important. Without bathing regularly, your pet and your home will take on a very unpleasant smell.
Plus, it is quite unhygienic to have a dirty dog lounging around your home. Beyond just dirt and stink, your dog won't look so hot with matted hair that's crusted in mud and debris.
It won't feel so good either. Dirty fur can irritate skin and even cause rashes or sores. Matting could lead to hair loss, which also can affect your dog's well-being and health.
Canine Journal also explains that bath time is the perfect time to check your dog over. You can find ticks more easily and check for a flea infestation. It also is an excellent time to feel over your dog's body for bumps, lumps, and other things out of the ordinary that could signal a health issue, making a simple washing a possible life-saving task.
How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?
So, you can see why giving your dog a bath is essential for everyone's comfort, but you still need to know how often should you wash your dog. It's not a question with a straightforward answer. It depends a lot on your dog and its needs.
If you want some general answers, then, at a minimum, the recommendation is once every three months, but you can do it as often as every other week. Some recommend a bath only when the dog begins to smell while others say some breeds need a bath every week.
You have to be careful about over bathing because a dog's skin produces natural oils that help it stay healthy. If you wash too often, you remove those oils, which could lead to skin issues and hair loss.
So, you need to focus on your dog's needs. Consider your dog's hair length, activity level, and any special considerations.
Your dog's coat will probably be the largest factor when you decide how often should you wash your dog. In general, long hair gathers more debris than short hair, so it needs cleaning more often. However, this isn't always an exact guideline because hairless dogs require more frequent washing due to not having fur to protect the skin.
With short-haired dogs, you can often avoid the need for too frequent baths by rubbing them down with a washcloth regularly. You can also spot clean as needed with wipes or a wet cloth.
Long-haired dogs run the risk of matting and knots, so you do need to stay on top of keeping their fur clean. Proper grooming will keep your pet looking and feeling good, so expect more frequent bathing if your pup has long hair.
This factor is pretty straightforward. The more active your pet is, the more often you'll have to bathe it.
If your dog loves being outside and gets muddy often, then you will have to bathe it more often than if it stayed in the house most of the time. Consider how dirty your pet gets daily when thinking about how often should you wash your dog.
There are a few special considerations that can change the whole view on how often should you wash your dog. For example, if your pup has a skin condition, you may have to ease up on the bathing to prevent making it worse, or your veterinarian may give you medicated shampoo and recommend more frequent bathing.
Your dog's breed may also play a role. A Puli with corded hair will not need baths too often. It can affect the fur.
Breeds that have thick, double coats also should not get frequent baths. This type of coat provides insulation, and the dog needs the oil in the fur to help stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If washed away too often, it can harm your dog's coat.
Tools You'll Need
You don't need anything special to wash your dog, but there are a few essential supplies you want to have on hand. This starts with a gentle shampoo made specifically for dogs. Don't use human shampoo on your furry friend. You also will need towels for drying off.
It is also important to find a comfortable area to bathe your dog. If you have a small dog, you may find the kitchen sink can work. The bathtub is another option, or you can do it outside. Find whatever works best for you and your dog.
It will be easiest if you have some type of sprayer to use. You can use a shower head or the sink's handheld sprayer. There are also special devices made specifically for dogs that make the process simple, such as a glove-type sprayer.
If your dog is a little skittish about bathing, you may also need a harness or a collar and leash to hold it in place while you work. It may also help to have treats on hand, such a peanut butter to dab on the bathroom wall to distract your pet. He'll focus on licking it off while you get down to business.
Steps for Washing a Dog
Bathing your dog starts with gathering the supplies. Make sure you have everything you need before you begin or you may end up with a disaster on your hands.
Before you get your pup wet, brush out its fur. That is especially important when your dog is shedding. It removes loose debris and hair to allow for a better clean once you start washing.
Now, you can start up the water and test the temperature to make sure it is safe. Lukewarm, such as what you would use for a baby, is best. You'll want to soak your dog's coat thoroughly, avoiding the head for now.
Once your pup is wet, start lathering it up. You can work from the top down. Make sure to massage the soap into the fur to get that deep grime.
Rinsing may require a couple of passes. It depends on the density of your pet's fur. Just make sure to remove all the soap to avoid irritation to your dog's skin.
You can wash your dog's head with a washcloth. It is best to avoid dumping water over its head since this could lead to ear infections from trapped moisture.
To finish up, you can towel off your pet, let it shake off excess water, and air dry. If you want and if your pet is okay with it, you can also use a blow dryer on low heat to get your pup fluffy dry again.
Tips to Make Bath Time Easier
Some dogs love getting washed up, but others are not so keen on the idea. If you have a reluctant dog, then you might benefit from learning a few tips to make bath time more manageable.
Tips for skittish dogs
To begin with, lay a rubber mat or towel down to prevent slipping in the sink or bathtub. Sliding around can make your pet feel insecure and make it want to escape, so providing a stable standing surface can put it at ease.
You also should get help if your pet seems to keep trying to get away during the process. It also helps to create a routine and always bathe in the same place so your dog can get used to it. Plus, it doesn't hurt to put a fancy new bow tie collar on afterward and praise how beautiful the dog looks.
Even if your pup loves baths, there are still some tips you will want to keep in mind for the most effective bathing experience. To begin with, you can put cotton balls in your dog's ears to keep water out if your furry friend is especially prone to ear infections.
If you have a breed with dense fur, try mixing a little water with the shampoo. That will thin it out enough to help make it easier to get out of the hair.
The American Kennel Club also suggest that you should clean ears and trim nails monthly even if you are not bathing your dog.
To clean the ears, apply ear cleaner to a cotton ball and gently wipe the inside of ears. Get in there and move it around until cotton ball comes out clean, and note that you cannot go too far in and hurt the eardrum, so don't be afraid.
If you have a dog that has issues with tear stains, Mercola recommends using colloidal silver to clean them up. Just apply it to a cotton ball and gently wipe. It will not harm the eyes.
Getting That Pup Clean
Now you know the answer to how often should you wash your dog is that it just depends. You are the best judge of when to wash based on your dog's needs.
One thing we forgot to mention is that no matter how your dog feels about a bath, the chances are pretty high that you will end up getting wet, too. Your furry friend will make sure you share in the experience, which usually means it shakes off at least once during the process.
Don't let that discourage you. So, no matter what you decide on how often should you wash your dog, gather your supplies, prepare your pup, and get that furry mess clean.
Do you have any other bathtime tips? Share them in the comments below!
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