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Sometimes it’s clear when it’s bath time for your pup - after a day hiking in the mud or a few hours at the dog beach, it’s obvious that it’s time for a suds and rinse. On the one hand (or paw), your dog doesn’t need to have muddy paws tracking dirt all over your furniture for it to be time for a regular bath. On the other hand, you can also bathe your dog too frequently. So what’s the sweet spot? Here are a few things to keep in mind when determining how often to bathe your dog.
Fur Type And Breed
While it’s not as simple as determining that dogs with longer coats needs baths more frequently than those with shorter coats, the fact is that if your dog has long fur, there’s a higher chance that dirt and debris will become caught in their fur. That may mean more frequent baths. You can reduce the number of baths your long-furred pup may need by regularly grooming long-haired dogs such as a Maltese, for example, with a brush and keeping their fur trimmed by taking them to the groomer regularly.
Some short-haired dogs, on the other hand, may require baths only every few months. Beagles, for example, benefit from seasonal baths every couple of months. In fact, their coats may become dry and itchy if you bathe them too frequently.
Siberian huskies, with their long, double-coated fur, require more regular brushing to keep their fur looking healthy, but still can go about six weeks between baths. The same goes for other thick-coated dogs such as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. These dogs naturally grow and shed their fur seasonally - bathing them too frequently can dry out their skin, getting in the way of their natural growing and shedding process.
A good rule of thumb regardless of breed and coat type is to avoid bathing your pup any more frequently than once a week. Exceptions should be made, of course, for those days they come home from the dog park covered in mud.
Use your best judgment to decide whether your dog needs a bath based on activity level in addition to breed and coat type. If it’s winter and your well-behaved dog is spending a lot of time indoors, there’s no need to bathe them as frequently as in the summer.
If, on the other hand, you’re the proud owner of a puppy who simply won’t stop rolling in the dirt and proudly showing off the holes they’ve dug, that should affect how often you give your dog a bath. In general, if you’re planning to take your dog to the beach, camping, or simply to get their zoomies out at a dog park the day after it’s rained, you should plan on bath time afterward.
General Bathing Tips
Bathing should be part of a regular grooming routine, which is different than a human’s routine. That means the shampoo you have in your shower for your own tresses isn’t right for your pooch. Check out different kinds of shampoo for your dog’s breed - some are good for dogs that have dry skin, others are designed for dogs with fur that tends to get oily more quickly.
Before you put your pooch into the tub, give them a good brushing first to get rid of any tangles and excess fur. Keep water temperature in mind, too - slightly warm but not hot is ideal, and never use overly hot water on your dog. If it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely too hot for your dog.
If you can time your dog’s bath to days when it’s warmer in the house for their after-bath run-around (you can count on it), that’s great, so they won’t have to shiver while they dry off. That’s not always possible, though, which means on days when it’s chilly in the house, make sure to get them as dry as possible as quickly as possible.
Regardless, use a large towel to dry off your dog after they’ve emerged from the bath. This will probably suffice for short-haired dogs, but for long-haired pups, give them the full salon treatment and break out the blow dryer. Again, not too hot. Sure, you know better than your dog, but if they’re showing any signs of discomfort, turn the blow dryer on a lower setting and move the blow dryer farther from their skin.
No matter the frequency of their bathing routine, whether every couple of weeks or every couple of months, some dogs love bath time - others will hold it against you for a while. How can you make it a bit easier on your dog while still getting them sudsed up and left fresh and clean until next bathtime? Treats. You can give them treats afterward for a job well done, but don’t shy away from giving your pooch treats throughout bath time while they’re standing in the tub.
It may help them stand still and keep calm while you wash them. No guarantees they won’t shake water all over once you’ve let them out of their bath. They’re just trying to include you, after all.
Featured image via Alvin Smith/Flickr