If your dog made a list of his least favourite activities, taking a bath would probably be near the top with the annual vet visit. Dog baths tend to be messy for the bathroom, time-consuming, and not much fun for everyone. It’s natural to ask yourself, “How often should I bathe my dog?”
Bathing your dog should be a part of a hygiene routine
Let’s start by saying that dogs naturally groom themselves to facilitate the growth of hair follicles and to promote skin health. However, most dogs need to take a bath to complete the process.
But taking a bath too often can also be harmful to your pet. It can damage the hair follicles, increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections and irritate the skin. Many owners ignore this and think they are doing something good by washing their dog every week.
In reality, the best bathing frequency depends on the reason for bathing. Healthy, indoor dogs may only need to be washed a few times a year to control natural dog odours.
On the other hand, frequent baths are more common for specific medical conditions, like allergies, or if he spends all of his time outside playing in the grass. Continue reading for some helpful tips that can make bath time easier.
How often should I bathe my dog?
Several factors affect how often you should wash your dog, including his breed, activity level, coat type and length as well as his health and whether he spends his time indoors or outdoors.
Dogs who spend most of their time outdoors will need a bath more often (every 4-6 weeks) than those who spend it on the couch. For a sedentary dog, washing him twice a year is sufficient.
What is the right way to bathe a dog?
We recommend starting with the body first and the head last, because dogs tend to shake their heads when wet. For large dogs, some owners prefer a small outdoor pool to avoid getting the house too dirty. For shampoo, use a dog shampoo as it will help maintain the dog’s coat and be careful not to put it in his eyes. You can try homemade coconut oil shampoo, check our easy recipe here.
Make sure to rub the hair on the neck and paws because these places tend to be the dirtiest.
Once you apply the shampoo on the whole body, massage it carefully then rinse. Always dry your dog properly after bathing, especially the legs, armpits, groins and places that keep moisture. Some people like to put a little perfume after the bath, that is fine as long as your dog isn’t allergic. Plus it is specially formulated for dogs.
What about other dog hygiene practices?
If you have a long-haired dog (like Shih Tzu, Lhasa apso, Poodle, Schnauzer, etc.), grooming appointment at the change of season (so 4 times a year) is required. If you’re not experienced enough in dog grooming, please do not attempt to do it yourself. Many times the pets get injured by their owners. What to do if your dog loses too much hair? Read more here.
Clean your dog’s ears once a week. We advise you to do it also after each bath, each swim and when your dog returns from the groomer. This will prevent otitis problems. Read more about dog ear infections here.
Use a good quality cleaner (some products will irritate the ear and cause more harm than good). Fill the ear with cleaning fluid, massage the base of the ear to hear suction noises. Let the animal shake its head, then dry the ear thoroughly with a tissue. Never use an ear pick in your dog’s ears.
The eyes of long-haired dogs should be cleaned daily. The hairs that fall back in front of the dog’s eyes should be cut regularly. This will keep the eyes clear and to facilitate maintenance.
There are different products to reduce discolouration of the coat of pale dogs by their tears. Some are effective, but all require daily use. Otherwise, the effectiveness is unsatisfactory.
If your dog is dark in colour or you don’t mind the tears, you can also use warm water to wash his eyes.
The claws should be trimmed at least once a month. If you do not do this often enough, the vein in the claw will lengthen. It will then be impossible to shorten the claws to the right length without causing your dog to bleed and get hurt. Check guide how to clip your dog nails correctly here.
When you have a puppy, cut a small piece of claw each week. It will desensitize it, and you will get him used to this manipulation.
A new trend for dog nail trimming is nail grinder, learn about pros and cons here.
It would be best if you also took care of your dog’s teeth. After 24 hours, the food that settles on the teeth, with the help of bacteria from the mouth, form plaque, then tartar. Brushing your teeth must be done daily to be fully effective. It is still better to do it 2 times a week than not at all! You can read about dental problems of dogs here.
Use dog toothpaste (fluoride is toxic to them) which has an enzymatic activity to destroy tartar.
We recommend any soft bristle brush. There are also little finger cots that are put on the index finger, which are easier to use than a brush. Otherwise, a washcloth on your index finger may do the job. Rub the outside of the teeth and do not forget the incisors (the small front teeth).
There are some good dental hygiene products on the market (dental food, chew sticks and coverslips, etc.), but remember there is no substitute for good toothbrushing! The more you integrate these good grooming habits early in your dog’s routine. The more consistent you are, the less difficult it will be!