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When it comes to a pet's personal hygiene, the question of how often to wash them is often hotly contested. While some owners swear by a weekly scrub, others insist their dog can go months without one. So what is the correct answer? Well, this can differ from dog to dog, but in short - as often as they need it.
What does this mean you ask? Well, say for instance your dog smells particularly pungent thanks to a fun roll in something horrible or suddenly appears to have fleas - washing is a no-brainer! However, washing your dog to a set schedule simply because you prefer it can actually be detrimental to their skin and coat health.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at when to wash your dog, what to wash them with and the best washing techniques for a great wash day result.
When To Wash
So how often should you wash your dog? There are a few factors that can play into this such as:
- Is your dog an inside or outside dog?
- Does your dog suffer from dry skin or other skin issues?
- What type of coat does your dog have? Is it long and thick like a Husky or short like a Staffy?
- What climate do you live in?
- The types of activities your dog engages in and more.
As vets, we recommend not washing your dog no more often than every four weeks as this can disrupt the skin's natural oils and cause flaking and itching. As touched on above, obviously if you notice your dog is particularly smelly or you discover fleas, a bath is the best way to go.
How Long Is Too Long Between Washes?
With four weeks being the minimum we recommend between washes, what is the maximum? There are no hard and fast rules regarding this and plenty of dog owners will tell you their dog can go months between washes - particularly if they love to swim at the beach or in local waterways.
We suggest you follow your nose and wash your dog as needed when they begin to smell or their coat lacks a healthy shine. In between washing, you should continue to brush your dog and ensure its coat is free of dirt and debris - this also helps to find any ticks or fleas on your dog.
Does Breed Make A Difference?
Yes, it can. Shorter-haired dogs like Chihuahuas and Labradors are more inclined to have an oilier coat and as a result, may need a wash more often.
Longer coated breeds such as Golden Retrievers and Border Collies have water-repellent coats and usually benefit from good grooming more than frequent washing to stay clean.
Some breeds of dogs such as Schitzus or Boxers can struggle with staining to their fur due to eye secretions or saliva. Others with rolls, including Bulldogs and Shar Peis, can be more susceptible to skin infections between the rolls.
In these cases, we recommend washing their faces or between their rolls as needed with warm water and cloth as needed.
Choosing The Right Products
If your dog is known to have sensitive skin or allergies, we encourage you to chat with your vet about which dog shampoo and conditioner products are best for their skin.
It is important to choose products specifically formulated for dogs, as dogs have a different skin PH from humans and using human products could cause an unwanted reaction on the skin.
As a general rule, any mild, hypoallergenic dog shampoo is fine and you can follow with conditioner if desired for an extra silky coat that knots less easily. When trying a new product, always keep an eye on your dog for any reaction and discontinue use if needed.
Tips For A Great Bathtime
If you avoid bath time with your dog because they hate it and it all seems too hard, then these tips can help you to navigate bath time and make it more enjoyable.
- Start them early, bathing should be introduced from puppyhood to help dogs get used to it as part of their normal routine
- Wearing rubber gloves can help to remove loose hair while always making it easier to tackle really dirty areas
- Have treats on hand to reward good behaviour, a lick mat at the end of the tub can be a great way to keep your dog happy and still!
- Keep calm, your dog feeds off your energy
- Ensure the water is at a comfortable temperature and be as quick as you can
- Use gentle massaging to work products in as this results in a better clean and helps to relax your dog too
- Always rinse thoroughly and have a towel ready
- Make time for playtime post-bath, many dogs get the zoomies following a wash and it's a great way to help them overcome their dislike of bathing
It’s Not Only About Washing…
If you want to extend the times between washes or keep your dog smelling their best, then it is just as important to wash their bedding frequently.
Washing your dog's bedding and bowls weekly is a great way to keep your home smelling fresh while also reducing the number of allergens, dirt, fur and reducing smells.
Brushing your dog regularly between baths is also a great way to keep them clean and fresh. Regular brushing helps remove loose hair, debris and dirt and promotes healthier skin too. Ensuring you use the correct style of brush for your dogs fur, will also help maintain their coat between washes.
While you’re at it, you might like to try brushing your dog's teeth for fresher breath and better dental health.
Trimming your dog's hair strategically can also make it easier to keep on top of their hygiene.
Having your dog's coat professionally de-shed and trimming around their private parts, between their toes and around their eyes can be very beneficial to keeping them clean.