How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?
There are several aspects of dog care you’ll need to carry out as a puppy parent including feeding, exercising, grooming and training. Grooming – specifically bathing – is an essential aspect of grooming which you’ll need to get right to ensure your precious pooch is healthy. Although grooming is necessary, it can be sometimes be difficult to gauge since every dog’s needs are different. A dog’s size, physical activity, temperament, coat length and type are all aspects which can affect the bathing process. So, in this article we’ll cover the key things to keep in mind when bathing your precious pup, how to bathe them and how often and which products you’ll need along the way. Let’s begin!
Why is Bathing Important?
Before we begin to look at some things you’ll need to first consider, you might be wondering why bathing is important. This concern is completely understandable since dogs seem to groom themselves all the time. When dogs groom themselves, they stimulate the hair follicles which supports hair growth and skin health, according to Dr. Adam Denish from Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital. Bathing is essential as it continue the process of promoting hair and skin health. However, bathing too often can cause a number of health problems such as irritation, damaged hair/skin and it increases the risk of developing a fungal or bacterial infection.
To keep it simple, you’ll know if your pup needs a bath if you notice any of these signs:
- Food or debris particles caught in the coat.
- Bad smelling coat.
- Muddy or dirty coat.
If you notice of these signs on your dog’s coat, it’s bath time! If there is visible dirt, mud or debris in your dog’s coat, it might be wise to first brush them outside to remove most of it. By removing most of the dirt before the bath, not only will you stop the water from turning murky immediately, you’ll also help to speed up the process significantly. When bathing your precious pup, start with the body then move to the head at the end. Mari Rozanski from Plush Pups Boutique confirms this by stating that “dogs tend to shake once their head is wet,” so it’s a good idea to save their head until last – unless you wish to be covered in bath water and puppy shampoo. Just be careful to avoid the eyes and inner hear when washing your pup’s head as this can cause severe irritation. Carefully wash these areas and immediately rinse with water for the best rest result.
Coat Length and Type
A dog’s coat type can greatly affect how often it needs to be washed and how thoroughly. Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as many people imagine. For some, there is a general assumption that all short-haired dogs require less grooming while longer-haired dogs require more but this isn’t always the case. For example, hairless breeds are often the most sensitive to grooming and some long-haired dogs can clean themselves quite effectively. There are, however, some generalizations we can make to simplify the process. While there are some definite exceptions to the rule, medium-to-long-haired coats typically require more frequent bathing than other dogs. While some pups might require a weekly bath, others can get by with one every 4 to 6 weeks. Dogs with shorter coats typically require less frequent bathing, around every 6 weeks, but will require frequent brushing to remove dirt, food and water particles.
Other than the length, the dog’s coat type also plays an important role in how often it will need to be bathed. Pups which have a thin and silky coat will need bathed less often than dogs with a fleecy, thick coat. This is because thick, fluffy or fleecy coats are notorious for becoming lodged with dirt and debris and will need cleaned for frequently and thoroughly than others. If your dog has a short, silky or soft coat, regular brushing should be enough to remove dirt and keep the coat clean. Dog’s which have double coats or seasonally thick coats shouldn’t be bathed too often as this can cause some health problems. When shampoo is used to clean hair it strips the natural oil found in the skin and hair which promote hair health. This causes problems when dogs have seasonal coats and it can prevent them from sufficiently insulating themselves. This, in turn, can lead to further health problems if the dog can’t regulate its body temperature. To avoid this, only bathe your doggo when necessary – when the coat is dirty, smelly or at risk from becoming matted.
What Products to Use
Finding the right shampoo and conditioner depends on the dog’s hair type and general health. Just like us humans, dogs can also be sensitive to certain chemicals and ingredients in skin or hair products. If you know of any allergies or triggers to your dog’s health, you’ll need to ensure these aren’t in the hair products. In some cases, specialist shampoos and conditioners might be required for particularly sensitive doggos. Your vet might be able to sell you these directly or you might have to buy them online depending on how specific your dog’s needs are. Even if your dog seems otherwise fit and healthy, it’s a good idea to ask your vet for their recommendations on which products are best. Most importantly, never use human shampoo and conditioner on your pup as these aren’t suitable for puppy use. This is because humans and dogs have different skin pH levels so skin and hair products aren’t interchangeable.
When using a puppy friendly shampoo and conditioner, you should be careful and monitor your canine companion’s reaction. Even specially made products can cause negative reactions occasionally so there are few signs to watch out for. Itchy skin, redness, swelling and spots are all potential symptoms of skin irritation so watch out for these. If you notice any symptoms after bathing your dog with these products, stop using them immediately and inform the vet. They might prescribe creams or lotions to relieve the symptoms or they could help you find an alternative product.
Whenever you use a new hair or skin product, test a small amount and monitor your pup’s reaction before applying it all over their body.
When to Seek Professional Help
There are several reasons for seeking help from a professional dog groomer. The most common one is the owner’s ability to bathe their dog when necessary. Some elderly owners might not physically be able to bathe their dog, while busy pet parents who work all day might simply not have the time. Alternatively, some owners might simply wish to hire someone to do the job for them which is perfectly reasonable. In these instances, a professional dog groomer would be a great idea.
Some dogs can also have mobility issues or general health problems which can make bathing at home incredibly difficult or almost impossible. For these dogs, the helping hand of a trained professional would greatly improve the experience and will ensure they’re safe during the procedure. If the pup is anxious and needs to be calmed during bathing; if a bad skin condition requires specific products; or even if the pup has recently had surgery and needs to be washed carefully, a professional dog groomer can help. Dogs with behavioral problems such as anxiety, stress or aggression can also be difficult to bathe as they typically don’t enjoy the experience very much. If your pooch has a behavioral problem or they’re just too difficult to bathe by yourself, you could seek professional help from a groomer. However, not every groomer will be comfortable or trained to bathe dogs with behavioral problems (particularly aggressive dogs) so you’ll need to inform them of any conditions or behaviors ahead of time.
Bathing your dog can be enjoyable or challenging (or both) but most puppy parents love the experience as it allows them to bond with their canine companion. Don’t expect it to be a smooth process though, not every dog enjoys being bathed immediately. If you start bathing your pup while its young and you use treats as positive reinforcement, they should learn after not too long that bathing can be fun and enjoyable.
By looking after your pup’s coat, brushing them regularly and bating when necessary you’ll minimize the risk of your doggo developing skin conditions and viral or fungal infections. You’ll need to use a shampoo and conditioner when bathing your pup to keep their coat in good shape. Repeating this process whenever necessary (weekly to once every 4 to 6 weeks) will also ensure your dog’s coat doesn’t become matted – a common problem for many physically active dogs. Using special shampoos and conditioners and seeking professional help or advice will help some pups who need extra care. So now you know how often to bathe a dog, what products to use and when to seek professional help.