I’ll be the first to admit that dogs can be DIRTY!
They always seem to find that one little mud puddle to roll around in.
And they never hesitate to stick their noses in the trash can.
Which makes bathing an important part of their dog hygiene routine. In fact, bathing keeps dirt, parasites, and bacteria at bay while also keeping your dog’s coat and skin healthy.
And it makes snuggling up on the couch much nicer!
That being said…
While baths shouldn’t be missed, it can also be harmful to bathe your pup too often.
But, Doggy Dan, surely a dog can’t be TOO CLEAN?
It’s not about cleanliness, but about health.
Bathing your dog too often can wash away their natural oils, drying out their skin and coat, and can even cause severe irritation.
And for breeds like Labrador Retrievers that have coats that naturally insulate them, removing these oils can affect how well they shed their coats and can interrupt their necessary shedding process.
How often is too much?
Well…that depends on a lot of factors…
Dog Hygiene 101: How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?
Dogs are not humans, so while we wash ourselves daily, it’s important to remember that dog hygiene practices do not require the same type of routines and frequency that our human routines do.
In fact, some breeds can go months in between washings!
It all depends on your dog and the type of coat they have.
Of course, if you need to bathe your dog more frequently as instructed by your vet or because of a health issue, by all means follow your vet’s recommendations.
But a good rule of thumb is that most dogs only require a bath once a month.
There are some exceptions, of course, and that depends on your dog’s breed and lifestyle…
Pups with oily coats need to be bathed more frequently, (but no more than once a week) because the oils can cause matting. Basset Hounds are a breed that has an oily coat.
Short-haired breeds with smooth coats need much less frequent baths because their hair grows slower. Think of breeds like Beagles and Weimaraners.
Breeds that come with water-repellent coats should also be bathed less frequently to preserve their natural oils and maintain their natural shedding process (as I mentioned above). Breeds like Golden Retrievers and Great Pyrenees come with these types of coats.
Breeds with thick, double coats, really don’t need to be bathed that often. Instead, focus on brushing to get rid of any loose, dead hair and help keep the skin and coat healthy. Double-coated breeds include Malamutes and other Northern breeds.
Aside from breed, lifestyle and activity level also play a role in how often your dog should have a bath.
Because, let’s face it, a super-active pup who loves to be outside and roll in the mud will need a bath more often than a dog who lives in a condo building in the city.
And when you start to get a whiff of your stinky pup and turn up your nose, it might be time for a bath.
Although I’d like to remind you that many dogs are smelly because of their poor (over-processed) diets! Their bodies struggle to remain healthy on these low-nutrition foods and are continually expelling toxins in the food through their skin Read my recent blog on a raw dog food diet to learn more about the benefits of feeding your dog fresh, natural food.
Be sure to pay attention to your dog’s hair and coat. If it starts matting or just doesn’t look right, it might be time to consult your vet or a professional groomer.
Implementing a Dog Hygiene Routine: What to Do When Your Dog Hates Bath Time
Dogs don’t typically LOVE getting baths; in most cases they simply tolerate it (with a few treats and a whole lot of coaxing).
But what do you do if your dog absolutely HATES bath time?
I’m talking nipping at the brushes, flailing, and trying to escape at the mere sight of running water in the tub.
It’s important that you create a positive association with getting a bath, so you might need to get back to the basics and make sure they’re comfortable WITHOUT water.
For example, show them the brushes you’ll use and give them lots of praise and pets (and maybe a few treats). Bring their favorite toy or bed into the bathtub so they can get used to the environment without getting wet. Rub them down and brush them as if you’re giving them a bath without using any water.
Then you can try to start introducing water. Be careful not to spray them directly if they’re leery of baths. Run the water next to them so they can get used to the sound of running water. Then start rinsing only a small area like a paw or leg while giving them lots of praise.
It’s important to take a lot of breaks along the way to make sure they’re feeling confident and comfortable with the process. Slowly work up to bathing them for longer periods with more water washing over them.
This method can work for both new puppies and older dogs.
Don’t be afraid to switch up the location. If it’s summertime, try bathing your dog in a little pool versus in your bathtub so they have more room to move around.
And if everything you try doesn’t work, enlist the help of a groomer to bathe your dog or show you what they do with unruly dogs.
Dog Bathing Tips
You’ll always want to talk in a calm and reassuring voice so your dog knows that baths are good for them (and can even be a bit fun).
Don’t worry about making a mess. Your dog will definitely shake and splatter water all over your bathroom floor. Try not to stress about it and make baths a positive bonding experience for you and your pup.
Before you bathe your dog, be sure to brush them thoroughly to clear all of the dead hair that can hold excess moisture from their coat. Extra moisture can increase skin irritation.
Hot and cold water can also cause skin irritation, so make sure you keep the water at a lukewarm temperature, similar to what you would use to bathe a human baby.
Always use dog shampoo. Human shampoo can dry out your dog’s skin.
It might take some extra time, but let them air dry instead of using a blow dryer after you’re done with the bath. Blow dryers can get too hot and dry out their skin. If you have a dog with a thicker or longer coat, towel drying is a good option so they don’t smell like a wet dog!
A lot of praise goes a long way. Keep petting and playing with your dog throughout the bath, and let them give a little tug on the towel when you’re done 🙂
When to Trust The Professionals
If the thought of wrestling your dog into the tub and holding them down while you simultaneously try to lather, rinse, and dry makes you cringe, it might be time to think about a professional groomer.
They are trained in working with all types of breeds, temperaments, and coat types, and will even clip their nails (another grooming task that can be a bit of a struggle).
Certain breeds like Poodles and Maltese need professional groomers to cut their hair regularly.
But even if your pooch doesn’t need a haircut, groomers can be a lifeline when your dog bolts at the sight of a bath towel.
Keeping your dog clean is just one part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And a healthy 2022 starts with knowing the best bathing timing and techniques to keep your pup in tip-top shape this year.
~ Doggy Dan