Whether your dog gets a semi-regular hose down in the garden, or a weekly warm bubble bath complimented by head massages and paw rubs, you may often wonder: just how often should I be doing this? And like a lot of responses when it comes to animal care, there is not a single simple answer.
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The frequency of bathing will depend on a few factors:
- the type of coat
- their activity level
- any underlying health or skin conditions
- any owner health conditions (such as allergies)
The type of coat
Dogs with medium to long coats will need to have more regular baths and grooms than those with short coats. If your dog is likely to get tangled and matted after a walk, they will need far more regular treatments than a short-coated breed whose only issue is that their moulted fur fills up the hoover very quickly. Depending on the daily maintenance of their coat, they may need a bath as frequently as weekly to keep it healthy and well-groomed.
Breeds with thick double coats such as labradors and huskies naturally self-insulate as seasons become colder. Over bathing could actually disrupt this process. It is important to note that over-cleaning can sometimes be harmful. It can dry out the skin, and destroy the natural skin barrier made by the skin’s cells and natural oils. Over bathing can also damage the hair follicles and increase the risk of bacterial and fungal skin infections. Not ideal, is it?
Dogs that are running amuck daily, rolling in mud or unknown excrement, swimming in oceans and rivers, or just that giant roadside puddle, will undoubtedly need more regular cleaning than those that prefer to cuddle up on the sofa, staying out of trouble, and keeping themselves clean and dry.
Allergic/ and skin conditions
Bathing with certain shampoos may actually be prescribed by your veterinarian to help control your dog’s allergy and itch. Some may benefit from a simple oatmeal or sensitive skin shampoos. Whereas more serious allergies may require medicated shampoos from your veterinarian. Topical treatment will help alleviate pain and discomfort, and in some cases, is enough to help their itch without resorting to oral systemic medication, and may be required to do once or twice weekly.
Frequent bathing removes dead skin flakes and dander. And may significantly help to remove allergens if you, a family member or a visitor have a sensitivity to pet fur. Also, if your dog is allowed on beds and furniture, more frequent bathing may be necessary to comfortably coinhabit a shared space together. For some, this may mean bathing them at the first sign of that ‘doggy’ whiff!
If your dog is healthy and has a low maintenance coat, then bathing every one to three months is sufficient. For these dogs, bathing more than once a fortnight may actually cause more problems. It is important to remember that dogs have their own grooming process that supports new hair growth and skin health.
However, if your dog has a more high maintenance coat, any underlying skin conditions, or is prone to getting dirty on most of their walks, then more frequent bathing is indicated.
Bathing your dog also allows you to thoroughly check your dog, from any new lumps and bumps, rashes and skin abnormalities. It is important to get them used to their bathing routine from a young age. It is even more beneficial if you also introduce them to teeth, ear and paw checks at bath time too. A dog that is happy and relaxed whilst being bathed will make the ordeal far more enjoyable for the both of you!