Veterinarians warn that frequent bathing strips away natural oils from a pup's skin, resulting in itching and flakes. Unless your pooch suffers from a dermatological issue or skin allergy, he needs a bath only every two to three months. Bathe a dog more frequently only if necessary, such as if he has romped outdoors and come back filthy or smelly.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, most pups need bathing about every three months. Active pups who spend a lot of time outdoors, may need a bath every six weeks or so, if they tend to get dirty, according to the Partnership for Animal Welfare. Veterinarian Dr. Rob Sharp suggests you can bathe a puppy as frequently as once a week, particularly if you note no issues but the dog has oily or smelly skin. Some short-coat breeds are more oily than others, and these are the only ones who can bear frequent bathing. According to Dr. Sherry Weaver on the Cesar's Way website, the only reason to bathe a dog is to remove offensive odors from his coat unless a medical issue exists.
Some pups suffer from contact allergies or dermatological issues like skin infections. In these cases, bathing your dog frequently using medicated dog shampoos is necessary to help heal your pup's skin or keep it free of allergens. Your vet will recommend a bathing schedule for your particular dog, which could mean bathing Fido daily in some cases. For instance, a dog with contact allergies may require a daily bath to keep his skin allergen and itch-free. Your vet may prescribe a special hypoallergenic shampoo to bathe your pooch with or a medicated one that contains ingredients to soothe irritations. Dogs with infections may need an antibacterial or antifungal shampoo.
Bathing a Dog
To avoid drying out your pup's skin, use a gentle soap-free shampoo designed especially for dogs. Shampoos designed for people are too acidic for canine skin, WebMD warns. Look for shampoos containing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and aloe, both of which soothe and moisturize a dog's skin. After soaping up your pup during his bath, rinse his fur thoroughly all over, including between his toes and in his genital area. Any soap residue can cause contact dermatitis, so it's best to rinse your pooch twice if you're in doubt. A simple toweling dry should suffice for Fido; hair dryers may dry out his skin if you're bathing him frequently.
Use a dog-specific shampoo and moisturizing conditioner to prevent issues with dry skin. If your dog has a lingering unpleasant odor, even with regular bathing once a week or so, a bacterial or fungal infection could be to blame; you need to get him to the vet for a checkup. Between baths, keep your pup smelling fresh by cleaning him with a dry shampoo or pet wipes. Brush Fido's coat daily to remove debris and prevent matting. Always brush him before a bath so tangles don't form in his coat.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Grooming FAQ
- Cesar's Way: How Often to Bathe a Dog
- American Humane Association: Grooming Your Pet
- Hartz: Grooming and Your Dog’s Health
- WebMD: Bathing Your Dog
- Country Living Magazine: How Often Should I Wash My Dog?
- Partnership for Animal Welfare: Bathing and Shampooing Your Dog
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images