How Often Should You Wash Your Dog? Finding the Right Bathing Schedule for Your Pooch

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

We know it’s time to scrub our pooches down when they roll in something questionable, or when their natural funk makes us less-than-eager to cuddle them. But how often should we bathe our furkids on a regular basis?

An essential part of pet care
Regular bathing doesn’t just improve your pet’s odor and appearance. It helps promote her health. “Bathing helps to remove allergens like pollen from your dog’s skin,” notes Vanessa Davis, dog grooming instructor and owner of Dirty Dogs Spa in Wake Forest, NC. “It also gives you an opportunity to observe your dog for parasites and developing skin issues.” Early detection of skin issues can lead to faster, more effective treatment, and less suffering for your pooch.

Hair length matters
Hair length is one of the biggest factors to consider in terms of bathing frequency. Longer hair can matt up and tangle, and it tends to trap odors, oil, dirt, and allergens. For these reasons, long-haired dogs tend to require more frequent bathing. Short hair doesn’t need to be thoroughly washed as frequently. In fact, a quick rubdown or spot-clean with a damp cloth can be enough to keep a short-haired pooch clean for a while. 

In general, Vanessa recommends bathing longer-haired dogs every four to six weeks, and shorter-haired dogs every six to twelve weeks.

Sudsing by skin type
Most dogs have dry skin that repels dirt fairly well. Some dogs, like basset hounds and Labs, are bred to have oily skin. Vanessa notes that, for these dogs, weekly or every-other-week bathing can help prevent buildup of excess grease and dirt. 

If your dog has a skin issue, whether from allergies, dermatitis, or an infection, she may benefit from frequent bathing, possibly with therapeutic or medicinal shampoos that will soothe her skin and/or help it heal.

Keeping the undercoat clean
Dogs with undercoats – such as huskies, chow-chows, and German shepherds – experience natural seasonal coat changes that are important for their comfort and skin health. Frequent bathing can interfere with these changes, so these pooches tend to need fewer baths than other long-haired dogs.

Trips with (clean) pets
If you’re planning to travel with your furkid, consider bathing and grooming her just before you head out. Not only will she be fresh and clean for the ride, she’ll shed less and leave less of a mess behind in the car and the hotel. If she gets into a messy situation along the journey, pet wipes and DIY dog washes can help keep her clean.

Lifestyle considerations
Active dogs may need more frequent bathing than those who are more sedentary. Dogs that love to dig, swim, explore, and get themselves into messes may need baths more often than those who prefer orderly, tranquil walks around the block.

The takeaway:  Bathing your dog every four or six weeks, with adjustments based on their hair length, hair type, skin condition, and lifestyle, will help your pooch stay clean, fresh, comfortable, and healthy.

Photo credit:  istock/primipil