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How often should I bathe my dog?

When you give your dog a bath, you are removing dirt and debris from their fur, helping them to look and smell their best. Here, our Lexington vets share how often to bathe a dog and explain the bathing process to help make the experience as smooth as possible for you and your pooch.

How often should you give a dog a bath?

While it's important to ensure your dog receives a bath regularly, you don't want to do it too frequently as this can cause skin dryness, irritation and other conditions. While the perennial debate on how often to bathe a dog continues, there is no one answer to this question, as it depends on several factors such as a dog's health status, coat type, lifestyle and more. 

Longer haired dogs tend to have more dirt and debris stuck in their fur, therefore necessitating more baths (about once a month depending on how dirty they get), whereas dogs with shorter fur may only require a bath once every 3 months. 

If you have an active pooch who can best be described as a mud magnet, they'll need more baths than a lapdog that spends most of their time indoors. 

You can also draw your dog a bath if they are covered in mud and dirt, they have oily fur or if they smell. Just keep in mind the last time your dog had a bath, and don't overdo it. 

Some dogs have specific health conditions or allergies. If this is the case for your pup, your vet may let you know that your dog needs to be bathed more or less often. 

For dogs, a good rule of thumb is that they'll need bathing once every 2 or 3 months. That said, it's always best to discuss bathing routines with your veterinarian, who will be able to offer advice about your dog's specific needs. 

Why should I bathe my dog?

While dogs are generally very good at giving themselves a bath, there are still times when they need extra help, especially if they like to roll in the mud, swim in lakes, or their fur tends to get naturally oily. 

There are a handful of reasons why you should bathe your dog regularly, from helping them smell better and reducing their shedding to strengthening the bond you have with your pup. Here is a list of reasons why it's important to give your dog routine baths:

  • It removes dirt and debris from their fur
  • Helps prevent skin conditions
  • Reduces shedding
  • Helps them smell better

Bathing your dog also gives you the opportunity to monitor your dog's health and look for any signs of arising conditions that may need to be assessed and diagnosed, such as redness, swelling, or unusual bumps on their ears, paws, nails, or skin. You even have a chance to check for external parasites such as fleas, mites, and ticks. If you see any of these unusual signs or external parasites call your primary care vet and schedule an appointment. If required, they may refer you to our vets at  Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency for further assessment or testing.

How To Bathe Your Dog

Knowing how to bathe your dog and being prepared for the task can make the process easier for both you and your canine companion. Here we have provided you with a step-by-step guide on how to bathe your dog at home.

  1. Pick where you want to bathe your dog, it can be a sink, tub, patio, or kiddie pool. Make sure to bathe them in the same place every time so they know what to expect.
  2. Gather the supplies you need such as a slip-resistant mat (if you are using a tub), a brush, scrubber, and a shampoo that is specially formulated for dogs. Never use human shampoo or conditioner on your pup because it can irritate their skin. Your vet will be able to inform you which shampoo will be best for your pooch.
  3. Start by brushing your dog's fur from head to tail to loosen dirt, and remove knots and mats.
  4. Use lukewarm water when washing your dog (never use hot water) and keep the water out of your dog's face.
  5. 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, wait for them to calm down again before continuing.
  6. Lather and massage the shampoo all over your dog's body, be sure not to get any in their eyes, ears, or face. You can start at their paws and work your way up to the head, to provide fewer opportunities for the shampoo to run into their face.
  7. Rinse your dog from head to tail. 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.
  8. Dry your dog well with a warm, clean towel to help your dog air-dry faster.
  9. Let your dog's fur air-dry. Don't use hot blow dryers that are designed for human hair because they can be too hot for your dog's skin. If you'd like, you can use a blow dryer designed for dogs' that operate at a lower temperature.
  10. Reward your dog. They have made it through the bathing process, give your dog a treat, lots of praise, and maybe even some playtime!

Contact our vets in Lexington today to learn more about bathing your dog.

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Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency is open 24/7 for emergencies and is accepting patients for advanced diagnostic appointments. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lexington companion animals. 

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