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How often should I bathe my dog?

By bathing your dog, you are clearing away debris and dirt from their fur. This helps them smell and look their best. In this blog, our Cincinnati vets explain how often you should bathe your dog and share the steps to the bathing process to help make this task as easy as possible for you and your pooch.

How often should I bathe & wash my dog?

Part of being a dog owner is giving your pooch baths regularly. But if you bathe them too often it could result in dryness, skin irritation, or other conditions. So you may be wondering now, often should you be bathing your dog? The truth is this question doesn't have one specific answer and depends on various factors like your dog's health condition, coat type, and lifestyle. 

Dogs with longer coats tend to accumulate more dirt and debris in their fur, necessitating more baths (approximately once a month, depending on how dirty they get), whereas dogs with shorter fur may only require a bath every three months.

If you have an active dog that loves playing in the dirt and mud you will have to bathe them more frequently than a dog that is content spending most of their time inside.

You can bathe your dog if they smell, are covered in mud, or if their fur is oily, just be sure you aren't overdoing it.

If your dog has an allergy or a specific health condition, your vet may tell you that your pooch needs to be bathed more or less often.

If you are uncertain how often you should give your pup a bath, once every 2 or 3 months is a good guide to follow. However, it's always best to ask your veterinarian who will be able to inform you of your dog's specific bathing needs.

Why do I need to bathe my dog?

Even though dogs are usually good at bathing themselves there are situations where they require some help from their owners especially if they love swimming in lakes, rolling around in the mud, or even if their fur gets naturally oily. 

There are a handful of reasons why you should bathe your dog regularly, from helping them smell better and reducing their shedding to strengthening the bond you have with your pup. Here is a list of reasons why it's important to give your dog routine baths:

  • Helps them smell better
  • Helps prevent skin conditions
  • It removes dirt and debris from their fur
  • Reduces shedding

Bathing your dog allows you to monitor their health and look for signs of developing conditions like swelling, redness, or unusual bumps on their skin, paws, nails, or ears. This also allows you to detect external parasites such as ticks, mites, and fleas. If you notice any of these external parasites or unusual symptoms, contact your veterinarian to set up an appointment.

How To Give Your Dog a Bath

Bathing your dog will be easier and less stressful if you know how to do it and are prepared to do it. The steps for giving your dog a bath at home are outlined below.

  1. Pick where you want to bathe your dog (kiddie pool, bathtub, sink, patio, etc). Be sure you are bathing them in the same place each time so they know what to expect.
  2. Gather the supplies you need like a slip-resistant mat (if using a tub), a brush, scrubber, and shampoo that's specially made for dogs. Never use human shampoo or conditioner on your pup as it can irritate their skin. Your vet can suggest the shampoo that will suit your dog best.
  3. Begin by brushing your dog's fur from head to tail to loosen dirt, and remove knots and mats.
  4. Use lukewarm water when washing your dog (never use hot water) and keep the water out of your dog's face.
  5. Talk to your dog in a calm and soothing voice, pet them often, and offer praise and treats when they are behaving. If your dog starts to resist and struggle, wait for them to calm down again before continuing.
  6. Lather and massage the shampoo all over your dog's body, be sure not to get any in their eyes, ears, or face. You can start at their paws and work your way up to the head, to provide fewer opportunities for the shampoo to run into their face.
  7. Rinse your dog from head to tail. Continue rinsing in this pattern until you have gotten all of the soap out of your dog's skin because any soap left behind can cause irritation.
  8. Dry your dog well with a warm, clean towel to help your dog air-dry faster.
  9. Let your dog's fur air-dry. Don't use hot blow dryers that are designed for human hair because they can be too hot for your dog's skin. If you'd like, you can use a blow dryer designed for dogs' that operate at a lower temperature.
  10. Reward your dog. They have made it through the bathing process, give your dog a treat, lots of praise, and maybe even some playtime!

When should I bring my dog to the groomers?

If your dog fights you every time you try to get them into the bathtub, you might want to take them to a professional groomer. Professional groomers have the necessary tools and education to safely bathe dogs of all shapes, sizes, and temperaments.

At Eastgate Animal Hospital, our veterinary team offers professional bathing services for dogs. If you ask us to, we can also provide your canine companion with de-shedding treatments, hair cuts, nail trimmings, ear cleaning, teeth brushing, and more.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

For more tips and advice on bathing your dog at home or to schedule a professional grooming session for your pet, contact our Cincinnati vets today.

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