How much do you know about bathing your dog?
You probably know that it’s a good idea to bathe him when he gets really stinky, but what about the rest of the time?
Today, we’ll look at how often you should bathe your dog as well as the right way to do it.
Let’s get started!
Complete Guide to Bathing Your Dog
Bathing your dog might seem like an easy enough thing to do, but there’s a lot more to it than most people realize.
After several years of working at a vet office, I began to notice something about dog owners and their thoughts on bathing their dogs.
The majority of them just bathed them whenever they were stinky.
While that makes sense up to a point, there are some caveats to that.
On the other side of the spectrum were the dog owners who over bathed their pets, thinking that more was better.
The reality is that bathing your dog is a bit more complicated than either a weekly bath or an as-need bath. There are some key points to know about bathing them.
Why Should You be Bathing Your Dog?
I know some owners of indoor dogs who have never bathed their dogs unless it was some sort of emergency.
Their dogs just never stank.
By and large, these owners have lap dogs who don’t do much more outside than go potty and then return to their homes.
Never bathing is almost as bad as over bathing, so let’s take a look at why we bathe our dogs in the first place.
1. They are Dirty
If you have a larger dog, you already know this one. Big dogs get dirty.
They also get quite ripe sometimes.
They love to get out and run around like maniacs, digging, rolling, and generally getting into everything possible. That leads to some pretty pungent pooches.
Whether they’re covered in mud, just rolled around in something dead, or, even worse, got on the wrong side of a skunk, big dogs have a propensity to get dirty and stinky.
It’s not just the big guys, though. I’ve seen some little dogs that could hang with the best of them in terms of needing frequent baths.
2. It Promotes Healthy Skin and a Healthy Coat
Bathing your dog periodically actually helps keep their skin and coat healthy.
When done correctly, routine bathing helps keep your dog’s hair and skin healthy by removing excess dander, dirt, and oils.
This promotes healthy skin and a healthy coat by stimulating the hair follicles, as well as keeping their skin coated with just the right amount of natural oils.
3. It Keeps Problem Skin Healthy
There are many dogs out there that suffer from conditions which require regular bathing, often times using medicated shampoos.
Dogs with allergies, chronic skin infections, and various types of dermatitis require medicated baths to help keep their skin problems to a minimum and promote healthy skin.
How Often Do Dogs Need Baths?
This is a question with a few different answers, and they all depend on your unique situation.
Some dogs require weekly baths. Most dogs don’t.
Active dogs might need more baths to keep them clean. It all depends on your pooch.
It’s important to note that bathing your dog too much can lead to problems.
So, try your best to limit bathing to once a month if possible or twice-monthly if your dog is a literal stinker.
Any more than that, and you’ll be negatively impacting the natural oils on his skin.
This can lead to issues such as dry skin, flaking, and in some cases of severely over bathing, skin conditions.
Dogs with Skin Conditions
Many dogs with skin conditions require weekly baths using a medicated shampoo.
For example, dogs with allergies or dermatitis usually require a weekly bath using aloe and oatmeal shampoo to help keep their skin soothed.
Dogs with dermatitis issues may require weekly baths with medicated shampoo.
Still, other dogs battling skin infections or particularly nasty bouts of dermatitis may require up to two baths per week with medicated shampoo and sometimes conditioners, as well to help alleviate their symptoms.
Indoor or Very Clean Dogs
Indoor dogs or dogs that aren’t into digging to China, rolling in dead animals, or generally getting as dirty as possible usually only need a monthly bath.
For these dogs, the bath is less about actually keeping them clean and more about promoting healthy skin and coat.
Dirty and/or Stinky Dogs
If you have a swimmer, digger, or in any way consummate adventurer for a dog, you could be looking at baths either twice weekly or as-needed.
Of course, if your dog has gone swimming in a pond, rolled in something gross, or has generally gotten himself dirty, he’ll need a bath.
However, try to limit baths to once every two weeks if at all possible. Any more than that can negatively impact his natural oils.
How Should You Be Bathing Your Dog?
Bathing your dog is an art form in and of itself. It’s more than just spraying them down in the shower and scrubbing. Well, it’s a little more, at least.
1. Choose the Right Shampoo
Dogs can have contact allergies just like people, so I highly recommend an unscented shampoo free of as many extraneous ingredients as possible just to be on the safe side.
There are several brands of dog shampoo out there that are hypoallergenic. In addition, choose a shampoo with aloe and oatmeal in it.
These are soothing ingredients which help soothe and condition skin while your pooch is being bathed.
2. Shampoo Preparation
Many shampoos are very thick, which makes it difficult to work them down through the coat to your dog’s skin.
I recommend diluting your chosen shampoo with water before bathing.
You want a mixture that is soapy but thin and can easily be worked into the coat and massaged into the skin.
This allows for more effective bathing and gives your dog’s skin the maximum cleaning benefit of the bath.
3. How to Apply the Shampoo
Before bathing your dog, insert cotton balls into his ears and apply eye ointment to his eyes.
You can find the ointment at your local pet store or online. This protects your dogs inner ear from water and his eyes from soap.
From there, work from your dog’s head to his tail. Gently massaging the shampoo mixture into his fur and into his skin.
Be careful not to douse his head. That will only make him skittish about the entire process.
Remember to get into all his cracks and crevices, including between his toes and pads.
The video below gives you a good overview of the right way to do it.
4. The “Rinse Cycle”
After you’ve bathed him from muzzle to tail, it’s time to rinse.
This is very important. Be sure you rinse him thoroughly.
If any soap remains on his skin, it can cause irritation.
Rinse him until the water runs clear, and then continue to rinse for another minute. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
I have seen some nasty skin irritation cases at the vet that stemmed from improper rinsing.
If your dog has a short coat, a vigorous towel drying is perfectly fine. He’ll air dry out in no time with that short hair.
If you have a long-coated dog, I recommend a blow dryer. This helps ensure that your dog’s coat and skin are thoroughly dried.
While rare, some dogs with long coats have developed hot spots from their fur trapping moisture and that moisture degrading the dog’s skin.
Use These Tips for Bathing Your Dog
Well, there you have it. Everything you need to know about bathing your dog.
Now you know why bathing your dog is important, how often to do it, and even how to do it.
With these tips you should have no problem keeping your pooch stink-free and healthy.
So fire up the shower and wash off that puppy!