How Often Do You Need to Bathe Your Dog?

Once a week? Once a month? The short answer is never. But when your dog gets into something that requires a bath, here's what to use for shampoo.


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Believe it or not, healthy dogs who do not have a skin condition do not require bathing. Oils on their skin and hair retain moisture, and scents that cling to them during their travels help them let other dogs know where they’ve been and what they’ve been up to; dogs communicate with each other via their noses.

Be that as it may, you may require your dog to be bathed. They roll in all manner of smelly debris, wade through swampy water, and amble through the woods — and then hang out on your furniture and sleep in your bed.

There are two other good reasons to bathe a healthy dog periodically — pretty much anywhere from every couple of months to once a week as you see fit, according to Tufts veterinary dermatologists.

1. Hands-on tub time gives you an opportunity to feel for lumps and other growths that may be easier to detect while you’re massaging in shampoo and the coat is wet. Crusting and rashes that need a veterinarian’s examination will be discovered more easily during a bath.

2. Bathing removes loose hairs that are going to fall out anyway, which means less hair around the house.

Shampoo ingredients to look for

The shampoo you use may have a lot of ingredients, but there are two esssentials recommended by Tufts experts — taurate and laurel lactylate. Those are the two chemicals that will do the job of cleansing your dog. In an after-shampoo conditioner, look for behentrimonium, glercerin, and cetearyl alcohol.

Among the brands that meet these ingredient criteria are Earthbath All Natural Dog Shampoo (cruelty-free and biodegradable), Bubba’s Rowdy Friends Groovy Bath Ultra Oatmeal Pet Shampoo, Pro Pet Works Oatmeal Pet Wash Shampoo Plus Conditioner, Paw Choice Foaming Mousse Dog Shampoo (good for dogs afraid of the water or for those who have just had surgery and need to be kept clean without getting wet), and Ladybug Soap Company Handmade Natural Insect Repellent Dog Shampoo Soap Bar.

If Your Dog Has a Skin Condition

While dogs with healthy skin don’t need to be bathed for their own sake, dogs with compromised skin — most often as the result of an allergy — do. Veterinary dermatologists refer to canine skin allergies as atopic dermatitis. The condition can cause irritation, itching, outright pain, inflammation, crusting, and odor.

Dogs with atopic dermatitis should be bathed as frequently as twice a week. The skin is the body’s largest organ (for all animals, including people), so when something goes wrong, it needs treatment — and relief.

The good news here is that while a lot of dogs don’t particularly like baths, dogs with skin allergies often do because the medicated shampoos used to treat them can greatly relieve their discomfort.

Your veterinarian can recommend a good shampoo depending on the exact nature of your dog’s condition. Ingredients may include antibacterials such as chlorhexadine, ethyl lactate, and selenium sulfide; or anti-fungals that may include Ketoconazole, Miconazole, and sulfur. Oatmeal and essential fatty acids can help keep the skin “calm” by softening and moisturizing.

Sometimes, shampoos for dogs with skin conditions can reduce the time a dog has to take medication by mouth for his problem. Bathing can literally accelerate improvement, in part by removing infectious agents


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