At-home grooming is an essential part of caring for most dogs. In this post, our Santa Clarita vets share how often you should bathe your dog and the steps to make the bathing process as easy and comfortable as possible for you and your pup.
How Often Should I Bathe & Wash My Dog?
Part of being a dog owner is giving your little one regular baths, but the amount you bathe your dog can change depending on their coat type, health condition, or other factors. Bathing your pooch too often could result in dryness, irritation, or other skin conditions. So you may be wondering now, often should you be bathing your dog?
Longer coats tend to trap and hold more dirt and debris, so dogs with this coat type require more baths (approximately once a month depending on how much time they spend outside or in dirty areas), whereas dogs with shorter fur may only need a bath once every 3 months.
But coat type isn't the only important factor; your dog's lifestyle comes into play as well. 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 on the couch.
Alternatively, you may bathe your dog if they smell, brought the outdoors in with them, or have oily fur from excessive petting. Just be sure you aren't overdoing it!
When it comes to allergies or health conditions, consult your vet to know if your pooch needs to be bathed more or less often.
If you are still uncertain how often you should give your dog a bath, once every 2 or 3 months is the general rule of thumb. 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 generally good at bathing themselves, they do sometimes 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.
Here is a list of reasons why it's important to give your dog routine baths:
- Improves coat smell
- Helps prevent skin conditions
- Removes dirt and debris from undercoat
- Reduces shedding
- Desensitizes them to water
Bathing your dog also provides you the opportunity to keep an eye on your dog's skin and coat health, examining them for signs of irritation, swelling, redness, or unusual bumps on their skin, paws, nails, and ears. Wetting the fur also makes it easier to check for external parasites such as ticks, mites, and fleas. If you detect any of these external parasites or unusual symptoms, contact your vet immediately to arrange an appointment.
How To Give Your Dog a Bath
The process of bathing your dog will be easier and less stressful if you know the steps to giving a proper bath (yes, there are designated steps!). Below we have listed the best step-by-step guide to giving your dog a bath at home.
- Pick where you want to bathe your dog (kiddie pool, bathtub, sink, patio, etc) depending on size. This should be the place you always bathe them so your pup knows what to expect, which can help reduce anxiety.
- Gather the necessary supplies such as a slip-resistant mat (if using a tub), a brush, a scrubber, and shampoo that's specially made for dogs. Never use human shampoo or conditioner on your pup as it can irritate their skin. If you struggle to find a reputable brand or shampoo that works for your dog's fur, your vet can suggest the product that will suit your dog best.
- In the tub (or wherever you are bathing your dog), start by brushing their fur from head to tail to loosen dirt, and remove knots and mats.
- Use lukewarm water (never hot) to wet their whole body. Keep the water out of your dog's face.
- 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, stop the bath and wait for them to calm down again before continuing.
- Lather and massage the shampoo all over your dog's body. Be sure not to get any in their eyes, ears, or face. Try to start at the paws and legs and work your way up to the head, so there are fewer opportunities for the shampoo to run into their face or eyes.
- Rinse your dog from head down to tail, ensuring the water is still lukewarm. 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. Don't be afraid to use your hands to gently push the soap out of their fur while rinsing.
- Dry your dog well with a clean towel.
- Let your dog's fur air-dry the rest of the way. Don't use hot blow dryers that are designed for human hair because they can be too hot for your dog's skin, even on the lowest setting. If you'd like, you can use a blow dryer designed for dogs that operate at a lower temperature.
- Reward your dog. They have made it through the bathing process! Give your furry friend a treat, lots of praise, and maybe even some playtime!
When Should I Bring My Dog to the Groomer?
It might be best to take your dog to a professional groomer if they fight you on the way into the tub or have luxurious coats you struggle to maintain. Professional groomers are equipped with the tools and training they require to safely bathe dogs of all sizes, temperaments, and breeds.
At Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic, 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.