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We love our furry friends! They are part of the family and enhance our daily lives with their unconditional love and affection. These devoted pets rely on us to do what is best for them. While they might not always agree, and even protest the procedure, part of doing what is best for them includes bathing.
Personally, I have never had, or even seen, a pooch that enjoys a bath! On the contrary, it has been looked upon as a punishment! So much so, that I have always bestowed a treat upon the poor victim that was subjected to such a cruel undertaking!
Nevertheless, it is a necessary enterprise that benefits your pooch and assists in keeping them comfortable and health
That being said, just how often should you be wrangling your dog into the tub for this wet adventure?
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To Bathe Or Not To Bathe: Dog Wash Tips
The short answer to that question is that it depends on a number of factors. It will depend on the breed of your dog and the age and health of your pooch. How often to bathe also depends on your dog’s coat and activity level, along with where that activity takes place.
In general, bathing your dog once a month will work for most dogs.
My neighbor’s dog is a virtual couch potato. His main exertion is yawning and stretching. My daughter’s pooch wants to investigate each and every twig and blade of grass. Oh, the delight upon the discovery of something rotting and slimy, which deserves a good roll in!
In the above scenarios, you can already guess that the couch potato will need fewer baths and need them less often than the intrepid explorer of all things smelly.
If your dog is generally healthy and spends much of their time indoors, they will need fewer baths than a pooch who is out and about and can’t resist a puddle or field of weeds.
Breed Of Your Dog
The breed of your dog is also a factor that will determine how often to bathe your pet. You want to be careful not to over bathe and deplete the natural oils in your dog’s skin.
Typically, dogs with a smooth coat, like Chihuahuas and Dachshunds will need the least number of baths. They should be able to go 8 to 12 weeks between baths, but again, remember that if they are out rolling in the mud the above guidelines won’t apply.
Dogs that do not shed, like Poodles, can go 6 to 8 weeks between baths. Dogs that have double coats, Rottweilers, Chows, Huskies, and Pekinese, will usually need a bath every 4 to 6 weeks.
If your dog has a wiry coat, Schnauzers and Airedales included, they will probably need a bath every 4 to 6 weeks. Unfortunately, Basset Hounds, who have oily coats, might end up needing a bath once a week as the oil in their coats attract dust and dirt.
Beagles and Weimaraners, who have short hair and smooth coats, can go longer in between baths. Golden Retrievers have a water repellent coat that should not be shampooed too frequently so that the natural oils in the coat are preserved.
If you have a Samoyed, as I did, they do better with fewer baths and more brushing. The brushing will help to get them loose, dead hair out of their fur, and will distribute the natural oils that are in their coats.
Maybe YOU are the sensitive one, and the regular doggy odor is something that you notice. Or maybe your pets are allowed on the furniture and sleep on the bed (my pooch had his own pillow) on a regular basis. If that is the case, you will probably want to bathe those critters a bit more often.
Consider your pooches coat; if they have an oily coat they will pick up odors and dirt a lot faster than a dog that has a short, smooth coat.
Regardless of the type of coat your dog has, if you brush them on a regular basis it will help prolong the length of time between baths, and will also make the bathtime itself easier.
We once had a beautiful Samoyed who had a skin problem. His skin secreted too much oil, and his hair would fall out in patches. The vet suggested a shampoo that would cut through the oil and allow his skin to breathe.
He, poor guy, was subjected to a weekly bath to keep his skin issue under control. So factors, such as our pooches skin condition, might also mean that they require more attention.
Dog Wash Shampoos:
What about shampoos? There are a lot of different types out there and it can be hard to decide. It is always a good idea to check with the veterinarian who knows your pet, its habits, and their type of coat.
In general, if your dog has sensitive skin a hypoallergenic shampoo might be the one to use. The shampoo is very mild and is designed not to irritate a dog’s skin. If your dog has skin allergies, ask your vet if a hypoallergenic shampoo will help.
If your dog gets fleas, don’t let the situation get out of hand, but be sure to address it right away. Fleas never go away on their own and can infest your home and other pets, not to mention the fleas bites can make your dog miserable.
A flea shampoo will kill fleas, but the shampoo won’t prevent them from getting fleas again or getting them in the first place. Be vigilant and watch for signs of fleas, such as excessive scratching, and take care of the situation promptly.
Regular Dog Shampoo
There are regular dog shampoos that have various scents or ingredients. Read the labels to see what is included in the mixture. It is usually a good idea to stay away from a shampoo that has strong scents as those ingredients might be an irritant for your dog’s skin.
A medicated shampoo is usually for a specific condition and should come be used upon a recommendation from your vet. I have found that it is far better to ask for help and nip a situation in the bud rather than try various avenues on my own and make the situation worse.
If you have a puppy, there are puppy shampoos that will be very mild on their tender skin. This mild shampoo would be better to use on your young pup as it will be kind to their growing coat.
A favorite, aloe vera, is a good shampoo to soothe and cool your animal’s skin. It is a very gentle shampoo and can often help with skin conditions.
Getting Down To It:
Once you have determined how often to bathe your furry friend, make it part of your regular routine. I have found, personally, that if I did not put it on my calendar and make it part of my regular routine, it did not get done in a timely manner.
When it could not be put off any longer, I would have to rush to fit it into my already busy day. It would end up being a less than pleasant experience for both of us. However, if I made sure that the time was set aside, I had more patience and could make it less of an ordeal.
Always brush your pooch before a bath. I would brush my dog the day before, as it made the whole process less time-consuming. If you brush beforehand, you can get the loose hair out of the way. Matted hair holds water and makes drying time longer and can irritate your dog’s skin.
Use Lukewarm Water
Don’t use hot or cold water, but use lukewarm water. Consider what temperature you would put a human baby in, and use that as a guideline. A larger breed dog can overheat easily, so keep the water a bit cooler for them.
My beloved pooch got to know the signs that a bath was imminent, and would head for the hills. Fortunately, I knew the “hills” were located under the bed and would lure him back out with his favorite treat.
I would talk to him and tell him what a good boy he was, that another treat was awaiting him at the end of this brief bath. I made sure to keep my voice calm, although he was sure he was facing his doom and tried to make the process as quick as possible.
Make sure to shampoo his body first, because when you wash a dogs’ head, they have a tendency to shake their head, creating an even more wet experience. Don’t overuse the shampoo, and rinse really well. Leftover shampoo on their skin can attract dirt and irritate their skin.
If you do not have a hairdryer designed for dogs, which has lower heat settings to safeguard from burning their skin, let the dog air-dry.
Last but not least, praise your pooch for surviving such a cruel fate. A treat, extra playtime, and lots of words of positive encouragement will go along way to making the whole unfair treatment easier to bear.
Our four-legged friends depend on us for what is best for them, even when it is not something high on their list of life’s best moments. Keeping your dog regularly bathed, according to their needs, will help to keep their coat healthy and your pooch more comfortable.
Ian is an avid outdoorsman and dog lover. He lives in Central Florida with his wife Heather, and their 2 dogs – Panda (Purebread Rough Collie X English Golden Retriever) & Kuma (Blue Merl Purebread Rough Collie)