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    How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    You may be wondering how often you need to wash your dog, especially if you’re a new dog owner. As dogs are all different, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. How often your dog needs to be bathed depends on its breed, its lifestyle, and whether or not it has any skin conditions.

    Why do you need to bathe your dog?

    Dogs aren’t like cats. Cats clean themselves and rarely need a bath, but a dog needs a regular bath to stay clean and healthy. Regular bathing will help your dog’s coat feel smooth, silky, and free of knots. A coat free of knots will also help to keep your dog’s coat clean between baths.

    Here’s another big reason why dogs need baths: Dogs can be very smelly! The dirtier your dog is, the worse it might smell. Dogs with particularly oily skin may also develop a foul smell. So while the dog won’t mind so much if it smells bad, you and your family might care very much!

    Some dogs need to be bathed more often than others. This may be especially true for dogs that like to roll in the mud or “get into trouble” as it were. Some dog breeds need more frequent bathing, and their coats need more regular maintenance. Bathing can also help reduce shedding and tangles when hair gets matted.

    It is important to get the bathing frequency right for your dog’s coat to avoid skin problems. Too much bathing can be as much of a problem as not enough bathing, depending on the dog breed.

    How often you wash your dog also depends on the type of fur your dog has. When your dog’s coat gets dirty with matted hair, it will need bathing more often. Bathing your dog’s coat frees up matted hair, which means less damage to the skin. This is also cleaner and healthier for your pet. This is a big benefit for the pet owner and the groomer, who won’t have to struggle with dirty, knotted hair in brushing and trimming.

    When bathing your dog, you need to brush and comb out all of the loose hair on your dog. This will help loosen the matted hair down to a manageable degree, which helps to remove unnecessary tangles that can come with bathing. For active breeds, you are going to want to brush your dog once a week and perhaps more often if it is prone to matting.

    The number of steps that a dog needs to bathe their coat depends on the type of fur they have. Here are some steps to follow to bathe your dog:

    First, brush and comb your dog’s coat. When it comes to brushing and combing your dog’s fur, it is important to make sure that you get all matted hair out as much as possible.

    Teach your pet to sit comfortably and accept your hand while bathing him. Begin the process by using a large crate for your dog’s bath. Find a good location for your pet and place your dog in a comfortable position. You can also lay down a cotton towel if you prefer. You can use standard dog shampoo, or, if your dog has dry skin, a medicated shampoo may be available from your veterinarian. Gradually, in the new bath setting, try applying shampoo for a few minutes to the coat and let the dog get used to it before continuing. Puppies and adult dogs should be bathed and dried thoroughly.

    With practice, you should be able to wash your dog without too much of a fight. And some dogs really enjoy a nice bath! For problem dogs, you may need to take your pet to a qualified groomer to get bathed.

    Does your dog have healthy skin?

    It is very important for your dog to have healthy skin. If your dog has sore or itchy skin, this could be a sign that it needs more frequent bathing. However, it may also mean your dog has a skin condition or a flea infestation. Have your pet examined by a veterinarian first to check for possible skin conditions or pests.

    How often you wash your dog depends on the fur type of your pet. Both washing and brushing can help keep a dog’s skin healthy. Find a natural, unscented soap and brush the hair first to remove any excess. Do not use harsh bristles to brush your pet’s skin if it is sensitive. A rigid brush can irritate the skin, especially around the eyes.

    Brushing your dog’s skin will help reduce shedding and may help to reduce any itchy skin. You might try changing its food. Ask your veterinarian, as some dogs have sensitive skin or hair that can react to food. It is important to be careful not to expose your dog to any foods that your vet has asked you to avoid.

    Different textures of hair can grow on different dog’s coats. The softness of the overall texture of your dog’s coat depends on what kind of breed it is, but improving your dog’s diet might help. If your dog has a coarse coat, look for foods that will keep its fur soft and shiny.

    Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to build a healthy coat and promote hair growth. The omega-3 fatty acids may help to hydrate dry skin and promote the healing and regeneration of the skin. Coconut oil (externally) may also help build a healthy coat. Use one tablespoon of coconut oil daily on your dog’s skin or as directed. Talk to your vet first before trying omega-3 fatty acids or coconut oil with your pet.

    How frequently should my dog get a bath?

    How often you wash your dog depends on the type of fur of your pet, location of the hair, and size of the dog. Bathing your dog may help it’s coat and skin condition, and it can help reduce shedding. Regular bathing will help keep your pet’s coat clean and healthy.

    Dogs with dry skin, short-haired dogs, and thoroughbred breeds should be bathed with a shampoo once a month, possibly with a hypoallergenic dog shampoo to combat any skin allergies. Once every three months may be ideal for bathing your dog. You can reduce more frequent bathing to minimize the risk of dryness in the coat. If you think your dog may need to be bathed more often than this, based on the type of coat your dog has, make an appointment for a dog bath at a veterinarian or groomer for a professional opinion.

    If your dog has a lot of hair, you can choose to wash at least once each month. That way, you’ll have time to clean the hair on the pet’s skin while brushing the hair out and then combing out each matted hair again.

    Dogs with water-repellent coats such as golden retrievers should be bathed less frequently with a doggy shampoo or medicated shampoo to maintain natural oils. On the other hand, dogs with too much natural oil, such as basset hounds, may need to be washed weekly. 

    Super thick dog coats such as those found on malamutes may need fewer baths but more brushing to reduce shedding and keep coats shiny and healthy.

    If you think your pet may need a bath now and then, be sure to properly brush your dog’s hair to prevent any hair from tangling. Bathing a dog with a slick brush will help avoid any hair getting tangled or matted.

    What products are best for bathing your dog?

    These are the products that are generally recommended for bathing:

    Pet shampoo: Bathing your dog with a dog shampoo is the best option. If your pup has a skin problem, regular shampoo can be uncomfortable, so your veterinarian might give you a special dog wash or puppy shampoo to limit the risk of irritation on your dog’s skin.

    Puppy shampoo is recommended for any dog’s breed or coat, including Boston terrier, golden retriever, basset hound, or dachshund. A thorough, sulfate-free, hypoallergenic bathing shampoo made for puppies and dogs with severe allergies can be recommended.

    Baby shampoo: Though this contains less harsh chemicals than adult human shampoo, your dog’s skin and fur also need hydration to remain healthy. Baby shampoo might be drying, so ask your vet if you have any questions about it. Never use adult human shampoo on your pet. Use only a pet shampoo formulated for a dog’s coat or a mild baby shampoo. Be sure to brush your dog completely before applying the shampoo.

    Fleas can make your pet very uncomfortable. You can bathe your dog with a flea shampoo every six to eight weeks to eliminate these pests.

    When your dog’s coat becomes dry and flaky, the coat may need a little more conditioning to prevent a skin infection. Bathing your dog with a conditioner may help with his or her skin, but it should not replace regular bathing. This is especially true if your dog has sensitive skin, such as poodles and shih tzus.

    Depending on the coat of your pet, you may want to bathe it with a medicated shampoo and conditioner. Bathing your dog with a medicated shampoo per veterinarian instructions can remove harmful bacteria along with dog fragrance.

    Dogs with sensitive skin or fur may also benefit from a medicated shampoo and conditioner. These shampoos or conditioners may help maintain skin hydration. These shampoos and conditioners can be used regularly to combat skin irritation.

    Bathing a dog with a bristle brush or coat rake may help remove tangles, mats, and loose hair that may already be clumped together. Be kind to your dog’s hair to help their coat be tangle-free.

    As your pet ages, their skin may lose its moisture so you may need to bathe your pet more or less often. Bathing too much for a skin condition may actually reduce natural oils that are ideal for dogs. So don’t overdo shampooing because of the loss of natural moisture..

    There are many different considerations when it comes to bathing your dog. How often you bathe your dog depends on its breed and skin condition. But whether you bathe your dog monthly or less frequently, it is an important part of keeping your dog healthy and happy. By bathing your dog on a regular basis, your dog’s coat will be shinier and cleaner. Your dog will smell nicer too!

    For more tips on related grooming areas, review our dog grooming guide.

    Tractor Supply makes caring for your dog easier with our wide selection of dog supplies. From grooming needs, to toys and dog beds, we have everything you need for your best furry friend! Subscribe to our autoship program and receive regular deliveries of food, treats, flea & tick preventatives, supplements and more, all while saving you time and money. You can also visit our PetVet clinics to speak to a vet more about your dog's skin health.