Q&A: How often should my Colorado dog get a bath?

The perfect dog bath.

The perfect dog bath.

 

Does this seem like a simple question?  Surprisingly, it’s one of the most common questions that I get asked as a veterinarian!

In Colorado’s dry climate, pet owners worry about the effect of bathing on their dog’s skin – and with good reason.  Too frequent bathing can strip your dog’s skin of helpful natural oils, which can make him prone to dandruff, matted fur, irritation, and lesions.  So, I’m here to give you the low-down on caring for your dog’s skin and coat.

Most dogs will not require a bath more often than once every 4 weeks.  However, there are breed differences that may require you to bathe your pup more or less often:

  • If your dog has a more oily coat (like a Basset Hound or Terrier), they will likely require weekly bathing to keep their skin healthy.
  • Short-haired breeds with smooth coats, like Weimaraners and Beagles, may need less frequent bathing.
  • Water-loving breeds like Golden Retrievers have water-repelling coats, and require bathing less often in order to preserve their natural oils.
  • Thick-coated breeds, such as Samoyeds and other Northern breeds, do much better with less bathing and more frequent brushing.

Of course, these are just simple guidelines.  If your dog loves swimming, digging, or rolling in you-know-what, they may require bathing more often.  If in doubt, give him a sniff – If he stinks, suds him up!

Here are a few tips to help with bath time:

  1.   Brush your dog’s fur before you bathe him.  Matted fur traps water and can lead to skin irritation.
  2.  Use a dog shampoo!  Human shampoo is too harsh to use on your pooch.  If you’re not sure what to use, your veterinarian can recommend some good options.
  3.   Use lukewarm water – about the temperature you would use for a newborn baby.  Dogs can overheat easily, and their skin is more sensitive to extreme temperatures than ours.
  4.   Rinse well, towel off, and air-dry!  Blow dryers designed for humans can cause burns, and will dry out the skin even more.
  5.   Give your dog a reward when it’s over.  Dr. D is all about the positive experience, so give that good dog some treats!

 

Make bath time a great experience!

Make bath time a great experience!

 

I know that many of my clients in the Broomfield area are concerned about their pet’s dry skin, especially in the winter.  So here are a few more things you can do for your pooch to help them be less dry and itchy this year:

  • Feed your dog a high quality diet.  I can spot a dog that’s eating a poor diet from a mile away, just by looking at their coat.
  • Consider supplementing your dog’s diet with high quality Omega fatty acids, Vitamin E, or a combination of both.  These supplements will support your dog’s skin from the inside out.
  • Bathe less often.  If you must bathe your dog frequently, even in the winter, you can use a dog conditioner after bathing to help soothe the skin.

 

These tips should go a long way toward helping you maintain your dog’s healthy coat and skin.  And, as a reminder, if you notice any lesions, redness, foul odors, or excessive itching despite these efforts, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian!

 

P.S.  If your dog suffers from itchy skin due to allergies, weekly bathing with special shampoo may be appropriate.  Consult your veterinarian for details.

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