Knowing how often to bathe your dog can be tricky. With so many different types of dogs, lifestyles and health needs, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Keep reading for guidelines to help determine the best dog bath frequency for your pet.
How Often Should I Bathe My Dog? Factors to Consider
Generally speaking, a healthy dog with a short, smooth coat and no skin problems doesn't need to be bathed often. In most cases, dog baths are more for the benefit of their pet parents than for the dogs themselves. Even so, it's a good idea to bathe your pooch at least once every two to three months. Bathing your dog gives you an excellent opportunity to check them over for signs of skin problems or lumps that could indicate a more serious health issue.
In some cases, though, your dog could benefit from having baths on a more regular basis. Here are several factors to consider when deciding if you should increase your dog bath frequency.
Your Dog's Activity Level
If your dog is highly active and spends a lot of time outside, they'll probably need a bath more often — especially if they regularly swim or play in the dirt. Even if they're not prone to getting into messes, athletic dogs could need more frequent baths to control their odor.
Their Type of Coat or Skin
Long-haired and curly-haired dog breeds generally require more regular bathing and grooming to keep their coats from matting, says the American Kennel Club. The AKC also recommends bathing these types of dogs at least once every four to six weeks, with regular brushing between baths to maintain the coat. Short-haired breeds such as Labrador retrievers can get away with infrequent bathing as long as they're healthy
What if your dog has no hair? Hairless breeds like the Chinese crested dog, who lack the skin protection a coat provides, need to be bathed weekly. Dogs who tend to have oily skin, like cocker spaniels and basset hounds, also benefit from more frequent baths to prevent oil buildup on their skin, points out Care.com.
Allergies or Skin Problems
Some dogs suffer from allergies or skin conditions that may require regular bathing with medicated shampoo. In these cases, the right dog bath frequency will depend on the instructions provided by your veterinarian or groomer. Dogs with itchy skin may also find relief from regular baths with a colloidal oatmeal shampoo. Dogs who don't respond well to oral or topical parasite treatments might need regular baths to help keep fleas and ticks under control.
Your Health and Comfort
Sometimes pet parents can benefit from more frequent dog bathing. For example, if you're allergic to pet dander or if your pup tends to bring outdoor allergens into the house, regular baths to clean your pet's coat might help you breathe easier. And if your pooch is allowed on the furniture or into your bed, bathing at the first sign of stink will make them easier to live with.
How Much Is Too Much?
If you're curious about how frequently you should be bathing your dog, know that excessive bathing can actually harm your pet. Bathing your dog too often can strip their natural oils, which they need for a healthy coat and skin, says Reader's Digest. This could result in a dry, dull coat and itchy skin. If you must bathe your dog more frequently than once a month or so, be sure to use a moisturizing dog shampoo or follow up with a moisturizing dog conditioner that can help replenish your pet's natural moisture.
If you're still not sure how often you should bathe your pup, ask your veterinarian or your groomer. By taking your dog's breed, health and lifestyle into account, they should be able to provide personalized guidelines to help you keep your dog clean and healthy.
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.