There are no firm guidelines for how often to bathe a dog. The quality and texture of the dog’s hair (whether it’s long, silky, curly, smooth, or wiry) will determine how much dirt it collects and how frequently the dog should be bathed. Your dog’s lifestyle and activities will also influence how often she gets dirty and needs a bath. If you own a dog with special coat requirements, you may wish to consult a breeder or a professional groomer for specific recommendations.
The usual reasons for bathing a dog are to remove accumulated dirt and debris, to facilitate the removal of dead hair at shedding time, to eliminate doggy odor in dogs with oily coats, and to improve the appearance of the coat. Routine bathing is not necessary for the health of the coat or the dog. In fact, frequent bathing can rob the coat of its natural sheen and make it harsh and dry. For most dogs, regular brushing will keep the coat and skin in good condition and eliminate the need for frequent baths.
The ASPCA recommends bathing your dog every 3 months or so; your pet may require more frequent baths in the summertime if she spends lots of time with you outdoors, or less frequently depending on fur type, thickness or breed, or if your dog is an almost inside pet.
Always use a mild shampoo that’s safe to use on dogs. They are available at pet stores, online, and at other retail outlets. Ask your vet for a recommendation when you have Fido in for her yearly exam, or if you notice any skin sensitivity or irritation. Do NOT use human hair shampoo or body wash on a dog. The chemical composition is not canine friendly and can cause skin irritation, allergies or other issues.
• First, give your pet a good brushing to remove all dead hair and mats.
• Place a rubber bath mat in the bathtub to provide secure footing, and fill the tub with about 3 to 4 inches of lukewarm water.
• Remove the dog’s collar or other items.
• Use a spray hose to thoroughly wet your pet, taking care not to spray directly in her ears, eyes or nose. If you don’t have a spray hose, a large plastic pitcher or unbreakable cup will do. Make sure the water is warm but not hot.
• Gently massage in shampoo, working from head to tail.
• Thoroughly rinse with a spray hose or pitcher; again, avoid the ears, eyes and nose. Rinse until you are sure all suds are completely gone. Don’t forget the belly and legs where suds may linger.
*Some people use a dog conditioner, but it isn't always necessary. Ask your vet if this is right for your breed of dog.
• Check the ears for any foul odors or excessive debris; if you choose to use a cleansing solution on a cotton ball, take care not to insert it into the ear canal.
• Dry your pet with a large towel or two, or blow dryer, but carefully monitor the level of heat. Some dogs are scared of hair dryer noise, so be cautious the first time you try this method.
• Dogs love to shake, so if you are bathing Fido in the shower, make sure she shakes before exiting to contain a splashy mess.
• Even with a hair dryer, you may need to do additional drying and grooming.
Dogs with loose facial skin or wrinkles-such as shar peis and pugs-will need special attention. To prevent dirt and bacteria from causing irritation and infection, clean the folds with damp cotton. Always thoroughly dry the areas between the folds.
If your dog has long or droopy ears, you should check them weekly. Remove wax and dirt from your pet’s ears with a cotton ball moistened with water or a little mineral oil. You may need to remove any excess hair leading into the ear canal; ask your pet’s vet or groomer to show you how before trying it at home. There are special hair removers that allow you to carefully pull one strand at a time.
Even if you give the majority of baths to Fido at home, a yearly visit to a professional groomer is a good idea. They have all the right equipment and the environment to pamper your pooch and check for any issues that you may miss. Include a professional nail trim, too.
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