Expert Author Peter Demmon

If you are reading this article, chances are that you have been looking around online for a definitive answer to the question in the title. If there is any one thing that I can tell you, it is this: It is perfectly fine to bathe your dog. The "how often" part of the question is as individual as you or your pet dog however. It is good to keep in mind that dogs aren't like humans. They don't require a daily rinse off.

Where you keep your dog is a big part of this whole topic. If your dog is an outside dog, or spends a lot of time outside, then the chances of him getting into something dirty are greater than if you keep him inside. But sometimes, it doesn't matter where the dog stays because that doggy smell might still be a problem.

If you are considering bathing your dog, then probably your dog has gotten into something that needs to be washed off of him, or that doggy smell has finally gotten to you. Another reason might be that someone in your household is allergic to dog dander, that would definitely be great reason to bathe your dog. Whatever the case may be, there are two important factors that you have to remember when bathing a dog.

1. Use a dog-friendly shampoo. There has been a lot of research over the past several years regarding what shampoos are good for a dog and what are not. The general finding is that human grade shampoo, soaps, and conditioners are not good for your dog at all. They will tamper with, compromise and possibly eradicate the natural oils in your dog's coat. Detergents are very rough on dog skin. It is worth your time to do the legwork and find some dog-friendly shampoo and conditioner for your dog's coat. This will help to not strip all of the dog's natural oils out when you wash his coat.

2. Put cotton balls in your dog's ears! You don't need to jam them in, but put them directly underneath the ear flap. That is all you need to absorb any extra water. It is amazing how few people follow this very simple and time-honored strategy. Dogs are extremely prone to ear infections. Sometimes dogs fight this step of the process though. If you cannot get your dog to tolerate the cotton balls, then be extremely careful about how you clean your dog's head. A routine bath shouldn't become a trip to the vet's office.

Some owners bathe their dogs every three months. Other dog owners do the bathing ritual every two to three weeks. Some feel that they should never bathe their dogs unless it is unavoidable. I even talked to a professional dog breeder who shows his dogs about this subject. He told me that when they are being shown, his dogs are bathed about once a week. When they aren't, it might be once a month. The different kinds of dogs (short hair, long hair, curly hair, heavy undercoat, etc) really play into this as well. I talked to a guy with a short-haired dog who bathes her once every 3 months. I talked to a woman who takes her dogs to the beach daily. She bathes closer to once every two weeks. Her rationale is that she sleeps with her dogs, and she hates that dirty ocean doggy smell in her bed!

One of the most interesting things that dog owners told me time and time again was that the doggy smell that is getting on your nerves might have nothing to do with the dog simply being dirty, but it might also have to do with diet. If you are feeding your dog decent food that isn't grain based, then the dog's digestive system is healthier and if that is the case, then the dog will be less smelly. The arguments against grains in dog food are paramount. Yet dog food companies still pump corn, wheat and soy into their dog foods as a cheap filler. Check the ingredients on the side of the dog food that you get for your dog.

The original argument has been that too much bathing would strip your dog's coats of essential oils. If your dog's natural fur oils have been stripped away, there is a lot of potential for dry, itchy skin, and a dull coat. However, there are a couple of specially made products just for this kind of situation. There are specially made dog shampoos that do their best to leave the essential coat oils on the dog and not washing down the drain. Another common solution for cleaning your dog's fur pet wipes. If your dog is getting that doggy smell, or if you are worried about too much dander or shed hair, a pet wipe might be the proper solution. Pet wipes are also good for removing filth from your dog's paws, if he has stepped on something that is dirty. Pet wipes will also clean the dog's coat and pull out any loose hairs or offensive material. Plus, pet wipes tend to smell pretty good too (make sure that you get organic pet wipes!), so your dog will be smelling fresh.

There is no concrete answer to the question of how often your dog should be bathed. It basically boils down to your tolerance level when the dog's smell starts to get "too doggy." The only absolute that this article can give you is that it is indeed OK to bathe your dog. Just be sure that you use the right products when you do. Stay away from human soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and actual detergents. Dogs have extremely sensitive skin, and the wrong cleanser will dry them out. Also, pay attention to your dog's diet and consider getting away from one that is grain based. Sometimes that doggy smell is a result of diet and not dirt!

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