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Should I Bathe My Dog Regularly?

Most dogs probably don't need regular bath.

Some dogs are easy to bathe, but others are a bit more difficult. Large dogs, those with thick undercoats, or those that dislike water can be challenging to bathe. The question, though, is: do dogs even need regular baths?

When Does a Dog Need a Bath?

It might be surprising to learn that most dogs don't really require regular bathing. Of course, there are exceptions to that, and most of it comes down to breed, lifestyle, and medical conditions. Here are some times when a dog needs a bath:

  • When he has rolled in something yucky. If your dog has something stinky, gooey, or toxic on his skin or fur, he needs a bath. Without one, he could spread that yucky stuff over everything in your home, and more seriously, he can ingest it by trying to clean it off of himself.
  • When he has certain skin conditions. Some skin conditions require bathing as part of the treatment. Usually, a medicated shampoo is necessary in these cases. Each skin problem is different and requires a specific medication and bathing frequency. If you suspect that your dog has a skin condition, you should visit the veterinarian for a diagnosis and prescription.
  • When he is stinky. If your dog has a foul odor, he might need a bath. However, some people are more sensitive to normal "dog smell" than others. Also, a particularly bad smell might indicate there's a problem like a skin or ear infection or impacted anal sacs. If you are noticing an odor that is not resolved when you bathe your dog, visit the veterinarian for a check-over.

Most Dogs Need Very Few Baths

Most dogs require, at most, one bath per month. In fact, bathing more often can strip the natural oils from the dog's skin, leaving him more susceptible to certain skin problems. Also, human shampoos should not be used on dogs because the normal pH of a dog's skin is different than that of a human's, so our shampoos can cause skin problems for dogs. Medicated shampoos or those labeled as flea shampoos should only be used under a veterinarian's recommendation. In general, you should bathe your dog with a mild, non-medicated shampoo that is labeled for dogs.

Routine Dog Care Required More Often Than Bathing

Though dogs usually don't require baths too often, there is some routine maintenance that you will have to perform regularly, regardless of what type of dog you have. This includes:

Some dogs also require routine ear cleaning and eye cleaning.

If you aren't sure how often your dog needs to be bathed or which shampoo you should use, check with your veterinarian at your dog's next scheduled appointment.

When it is time to give your dog a bath, you can find some helpful tips for doing so here: "How to Give a Dog a Bath."

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