Dog Bathing 101: How Often Should You Bathe a Dog?
Some dogs just can’t resist rolling in mud, dirt or worse. Obviously, this means bath, stat! But outside of these dirt emergencies, how often should you bathe a dog? Do they really need baths? Let’s dig in!
Just like people, some dogs can get a bit stinky without a regular bath. On the other hand, some dogs do just fine with just a regular wipe down to remove dirt and grit. (We don’t recommend this approach for people.) Baby wipes are perfect for daily cleaning of the coat, paws, and muzzle. They’re gentle and won’t cause irritation.
This is especially true if you adopted a new puppy. Many people wonder “how often should I give my puppy a bath?” If they’re less than 8 weeks old, the answer is probably ‘none’. Unless they are in dire need of a bath, they should be kept dry as many young pups are unable to efficiently regulate their body temperature. Running a warm, damp cloth over them should do the trick. (More on puppy baths later…)
So how often should you bathe a dog?
- A healthy adult dog: A good rule of thumb is to give your pet a bath once a month in the tub or shower, using warm water and a gentle dog-specific shampoo. If they have an underlying skin condition or allergies, you may need to bathe them more often using a medicated shampoo. Use a soap free or moisturizing formulation so their skin doesn’t get dried out. Your vet or groomer can recommend the type that’s right for your pooch. Never bathe your dog more than once a week unless it’s recommended by your vet. While you’re bathing your dog, take special care to note any lumps, bump or skin changes that could indicate a health problem. If you find something of concern, be sure to let your vet know.
- A newborn puppy: If this is your first time bringing home a puppy, congratulations! If you’re looking for tips on responsible pet care, check out this blog for pet care tips. Now to the question on your mind: how often should you give your puppy a bath? This depends heavily on the age of your puppy. During their first 8-12 weeks of life, puppies rely heavily on their mothers for everything — including proper cleaning and grooming. At this stage, the puppy should rely on their mother for grooming. If they do need a bath, you’ll be able to bathe your puppy the day you bring them home (assuming they are at least 8 weeks old).
Things to Consider
Have a dog that sees dirt and mud and runs to it? You’re going to need to give your dog more baths than a dog that prefers lounging around the house. But remember, there will always be exceptions to how often you should bathe a dog. For instance, long-coated breeds, as well as hairless breeds such as the Chinese Crested, will typically require more intensive care and regular maintenance. While this is only a general guide, try to come up with a maintenance plan based on the needs of your furry friend. Here are some things to consider:
- Coat Type: Long-coated breeds may require more baths and grooming care than short-coated breeds. Additionally, some thick coated breeds like retrievers and Huskies can lose essential oils from their skin if bathed too often. This isn’t only true for these breeds – many breeds are vulnerable to the fur and skin drying out, so ask your veterinarian or groomer for guidance.
- Activity: Again, if your dog is the type to go swimming or run into rain and muddy water when possible or dig holes when they know they shouldn’t, you’re going to need to give them frequent baths.
- Allergies and Health: If you’re adopting a dog with health concerns, bring them to your vet right away to establish an appropriate care plan. Search here for a nearby AZPetVet location.
How to Dry Your Pet After Bathing
Rinse well, and dry with soft towels. Some dogs will allow you to use a hairdryer on a warm/cool setting, while others will freak out or consider it playtime. If you use a hair dryer, be sure to keep the nozzle at least 18 inches away from the fur and skin in order to prevent overheating or burns. Whatever your dog’s preference, dry them the best you can, and enjoy their after-bath antics. Be sure they’re dry before going outside, or you’ll most likely be headed right back to the tub!
Not into the do-it-yourself dog bath? Regular grooming appointments can help keep your pet looking and smelling great! To find one of our 18 AZPetVet Grooming locations, click here.