Dogs and dog owners alike enjoy a good bath every once in a while, but how often should you wash your dog? Too many baths may dry out his skin while too few may have you saying pee-yew! Fortunately, there’s some middle ground when it comes to canine hygiene.
Veterinarians recommend you bathe a dog a dog with normal skin once a month. There is no medical need to bathe your pup more often unless he has skin problems or is just a little more stinky than you’d like. A mostly indoor Yorkie will require less bathing than a German shepherd who loves to romp in the weeds, and a wiry-coated Jack Russell may be able to go a couple of months without a bath. Use your best judgment as a pet owner when it comes to bathing your dog.
Choosing a Shampoo
Never use human shampoos or soaps on your pup; they can dry out his sensitive skin. Instead choose a gentle dog shampoo for routine bathing. Soothing ingredients are even more important if your dog is prone to dry skin or itchiness. Look for natural, moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, aloe and oatmeal. It’s also best to steer clear of heavily scented shampoos, but if you enjoy a pleasant smell, look for shampoos lightly scented with natural oils such as lavender or chamomile.
Fleas can be a real nuisance. Though there are a number of flea shampoos on the market, their effects are short-lived. Many flea shampoos also contain harsh chemicals that irritate your dog’s already sensitive skin. Fortunately there's an alternative. Did you know vinegar kills fleas? Bathing your dog in a mixture of vinegar and water is a natural, safe alternative to flea shampoo: use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and take caution to avoid the sensitive area around his eyes. It's safe to use a vinegar bath whenever you notice fleas. Be warned, though, your dog may smell like a pickle for a couple of days afterwards!
Don’t Forget the Ears
Your dog’s ears get dirty, too. You should wash his ears once a week in order to prevent infection, remove debris and maintain a healthy level of earwax. There are a variety of ear-wash solutions available. Consult your veterinarian to find out which one is right for your pet’s breed and ear type.
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.