Humans are fastidious about being clean. However, recent research says that it may be better for you to bathe 2 to 3 times a week instead of every day. It’s very possible to over-bathe.
This is also true for your dog. Bathing them too much or too little can cause skin issues and other health problems. How often is too often? When does your dog actually need a bathe?
The question is surprisingly complicated. The short answer is, it depends.
Is it ok to give a dog a bath every week?
Most dogs do not need a bath every week. In fact, it can even cause skin problems. Of course, you want your dog to be clean, but it’s important not to over-bathe.
Why Do Dogs Need Baths?
Obviously, bathing your dog removes dirt and debris from their coat, and makes them smell fresh. These are important factors for pet parents. However, when it comes to your dog’s health, there are other reasons why bathing is important.
Dogs do a significant amount of grooming themselves. They use their tongue to lick away dirt and distribute the oils from their coat. This works well for day to day grooming, but they still need a little help from you.
Dogs with short coats can maintain their coats easier than long-haired breeds. Long-haired or double-coated breeds may not be able to reach the lower layers of hair.
Dirt can clog your dog’s skin, which can cause itching and skin lesions over time. Bacteria can also begin to grow on their skin if they aren’t bathed. Some of this bacteria causes a foul smell, but other types can cause skin infections.
What Happens When You Over Bathe Your Dog?
You probably know that your skin and hair produce oils that help keep your skin, healthy, and body healthy. If you bathe too often, it strips these oils, leaving you susceptible to a range of issues.
This can also occur with your pooch. If you bathe them too much, their skin can become dry and irritated. It can upset their natural ph balance, which leaves the skin susceptible to harmful bacteria.
How to Bathe Your Dog
How you bathe your dog is just as important as how often you bathe them. You should bathe them with a dog shampoo. If they have sensitive skin or get baths regularly, choose a gentle shampoo. These often include oatmeal or aloe.
You should also consider conditioner for your dog. Dog conditioner can moisturize your pooch’s coat and skin. It can also prevent tangles.
If your dog has a long coat, dry itchy skin, or gets bathed more often than once a month, a conditioner can be beneficial. It helps replace their natural oils which are removed during bathing.
Most dogs only need a bath once every 1 to 3 months. This can feel, or even smell, like a long time to go without bathing your pooch. However, there are some great ways to keep your dog clean between baths.
Doggie wipes are handy and simple. If your dog frequently gets dirty, they can be a lifesaver. They are, as their name suggests, essentially baby wipes for dogs. They can be used to wipe muddy paws, and remove bits of food from the coat. They are very useful for dogs with urinary issues as well, because they can remove pee without requiring a bath.
Do not use human wipes on your dog. These can dry out or irritate their skin.
Vinegar and water is another option. Simply mix white vinegar with an equal part water. Put it into a spray bottle, and spray your pooch. Wipe the excess away with a clean towel. If your dog doesn’t like being sprayed, you can also apply it with a sponge. The vinegar will condition your dog’s coat, deodorize, and help keep them clean, all without drying their skin.
If your pooch gets itchy between baths, consider coconut oil. Coconut oil will condition your dog’s coat and moisturize their skin. It has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties as well, making it great for dogs with skin issues.
Lemon water is another homemade cleanser. Slice a lemon and drop it into boiling water. Turn the water off and allow it to sit overnight. Put it into a sprayer or apply it with a sponge. Put the remaining solution in the fridge for later use. Once the mixture dries onto the coat, brush it out.
Lemon water will have their coat and smelling fresh. It can lighten a dark coat.
Do Puppies Need Baths?
You shouldn’t bathe your puppy until they are 6 to 8 weeks old. 8 weeks or older is the best time for their first bath. Until then, mom keeps them pretty clean. Again, common sense is needed.
If your curious pooch met a skunk or went for a roll in the dirt, they may need a bath. However, under normal circumstances, baths aren’t necessary until 8 weeks, or until the puppy has left its mother.
Shampoo, even puppy shampoo, shouldn’t be used until your puppy is at least 3 months old. Again, use your best judgement. If your 8-week-olds soiled their crate and themselves, you may feel the need to suds them up.
No Human Shampoo
It can be tempting to reach for your favorite shampoo when washing your dog. After all, it smells great. It’s good for you, so it should be good for them too, right?
Unfortunately, no. Human grooming products should not be used on dogs. The main reason for this is that dogs and humans have a very different ph. This ph creates a special barrier on the skin, along with good bacteria. This prevents toxins and germs from getting inside the body.
When the ph balance is disrupted, this barrier can be temporarily lost. It can also result in dry skin.
Some human shampoos also have ingredients that aren’t healthy for dogs to be exposed to. Their bodies are different than ours. This is why we love grapes, but they are toxic to your pooch. Things that are safe for you aren’t always safe for your dog.
How often should I bathe a dog?
How often you should bathe your dog depends on a number of factors. Most dogs should be bathed every 1-3 months. However, some dogs require more frequent bathing.
Breed and Coat Type
Breed and coat type are one of the main considerations wen it comes to how often to bathe your dog.
Most dogs will need to be bathed about once a month. Generally, dogs with a shorter coat require less frequent bathing than those with a double or long coat. However, some long coated breeds produce more oil, which means they need more frequent baths.
Some short haired breeds also need more frequent bathing. Hairless breeds need a bath weekly, because they don’t have the protection hair provides.
Breeds that need bathing every 4 weeks include chihuhas, collies, retrievers, and shepards.
Dogs who need a bath every 6 weeks include Irish Wolfhounds and Dauschaund. Dogs who should only be bathed every 8 weeks are the Husky, Samoyed, Beagle, Stafordshire Terrier, and the Welsh Corgi.
Dogs who spend most of their time inside do not get nearly as dirty as those that live outside. At the same time, if your dog lives inside, you are understandably concerned about them spreading dirt, or doggie smell, around your home.
Dogs who live outdoors should generally get a monthly bath. Short coated breeds may be brushed every 2 weeks, and bathed every 6 weeks.
If your pooch lives indoors but enjoys playing outside, you may need to bathe them once a month.
However, it’s important to use common sense. If your dog has been playing in a mud puddle and they are filthy, they need a bath, no matter when they had their last one.
Allergies and Skin Issues
Generally, dogs with allergies need to be bathed once every 1-2 weeks. However, allergies can irritate the skin, and bathing too frequently can exacerbate it. When it comes to skin conditions, you’ll need to speak with your vet.
It’s extremely important to bathe them at the right times if they have skin issues. Depending on their issue and breed, they may need to be bathed more or less often than average. Your vet may also recommend a gentle dog shampoo to help manage the condition.
Puppies have that adorable puppy coat, which means their bathing needs are a bit different than adults. You can give your puppy a bath every 2 to 4 weeks up until they are a year old. During this time, overbathing isn’t as big of a concern due to their different coat.
Water Goes a Long Way
If you feel like your pooch needs cleaning, but you are concerned about over bathing, you can always use water. Water will not harm or dry out their coat, and it can be a surprisingly effective cleanser on its own.
Of course, if you encounter that wet dog smell, you may need to consider other options for your own sanity. You can rinse your pooch with water a few times a week without drying out their coat.
When in Doubt, Ask the Experts
If you aren’t sure how often to bathe your dog, or they have a skin or coat problem, ask your vet for advice. You can also speak to your groomer, although they have something to gain from more frequent bathing.
Your vet is not only an expert, they don’t benefit from your dog’s bathing schedule in any way.