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Bathing your dog can be a bittersweet process. Your dog usually leaves the tub smelling excellent, yet they sometimes struggle or fear going to the bath. To answer this question in short: it is possible to bathe your dog too much or too often.

Unless a dog has certain problems with its skin or it has consumed some unsavory foods, there shouldn’t be any real reason why you’d need to bathe your dog more often than usual.

Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with petMD, adds, “the best bath frequency depends on the reason behind the bath. Healthy dogs who spend most of their time inside may only need to be bathed a few times a year to control natural ‘doggy odors.’ On the other hand, frequent bathing is a critical part of managing some medical conditions, like allergic skin disease.”

bathe dog in moderation

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

According to the ASPCA, every once in three months is a good frequency to give your dog a good bath. However, do note that this is just a general rule of thumb.

How often you decide to should wash or bathe your dog depends on a number of factors. Does it go out to play a lot? Is it an old dog? Does it play in the mud a lot and tend to stink a little faster?

Naturally, dogs that get into plenty of dirty, outdoor activities tend to need to go for a bath more often than those that spend their days just lazing at home on the couch. Typically, just taking a whiff of your dogs fur should give you an indication of whether it needs  bath yet or not.

Moreover, the once in three months rule of thumb applies usually only if your dog is groomed and brushed regular, as brushing will keep its coat in good condition between baths, as well as keeping his coat from matting and tangling.

You can bathe your dog too often

Dr. Adam Denish of Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Elkins Park, Penn has this to say: “Bathing is needed for most dogs to supplement the process. But bathing too often can be detrimental to your pet as well. It can irritate the skin, damage hair follicles, and increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections.”

Excessive bathing also strips your dog’s fur coat of its natural essential oils that give it that great shine.

That said, it’s clear that like eating healthy, dogs need to be washed in moderation. Too much, it can cause side effects such as overly-dry skin. Too little and your dog might become a bacteria carrying furball that’s spreading stink everywhere that it goes.

It also depends on the dog bathing products

There is one stark difference between human and canine skin: skin pH. This affects the kind of bathing products that you use for your dog.

Human skin tends to be very acidic, coming in at a pH of under 5 in most cases, while dog skin on the other hand sports a pH level that is much closer to 7, meaning that it is essentially neutral – not strongly acidic or strongly alkaline.

This is the same reason why you shouldn’t use products designed for human skin on dogs. These products could irritate the skin causing rash and other allergic reactions. So don’t go using any human shampoo for your dogs when you’re at a staycation at someone else’s dog-friendly Airbnb , because the shampoo might not be dog-friendly. Also instruct pet sitters to use shampoo that your dog can work well with.

For routine baths, most experts recommend using a mild, moisturizing dog shampoo such as Oatmeal-based shampoos.

However, research has also shown that in some cases, dogs can have negative reactions to shampoos and other products, even if they’re specifically made for canine skin.

You can tell when your dog has a skin reaction when you see symptoms like red, itchy skin and hives. Also be careful to not let your dog ingest too much pet shampoo. Ingesting shampoo can cause symptoms like vomiting, excessive drooling and a decreased appetite.

If you’re unsure of which type of shampoo to buy, the safest thing to do would be to speak to a vet that knows your pets and their medical histories and is in the best position to provide individualized recommendations.

This is especially true if your dog suffers from a skin condition, don’t take any chances with this.

All in all, there is no real ‘standard’ frequency in which you should bathe your dog and to clean its fur. Experts recommend a timeline of between once a month to once in three months depending on whether your dog tends to get filthy while adventuring often or sits at home to cosy up to you half the time.

Using the right shampoo that works with your dog’s unique fur and allergies as well as having a flexible bath schedule that plays to your dog’s level of filth at any point in time after an outdoor game will definitely make them much happier, cleaner and healthier most of the time.