Family & Pets

How often should you wash your dog?

How often should you wash your dog?

Dog owners either love or hate bath time depending on whether their dog is a fan of water.

The question of how often you’ve been washing your dog has probably come up, especially if they tremble at the sight of water.

Robert Hilton, a Melbourne-based vet, spoke to ABC Life about how often you should wash your dog. 

"In general, healthy dogs only need to be bathed if they smell. There's no reason particularly to bath a healthy dog, unless they're dirty," Dr Hilton says.

Feral dogs don’t generally bathe, let alone use shampoo, so many wash their pets weekly as to not dirty up their homes.

"Or some dogs develop a doggy smell and people want to remove that, or they get dusty or dirty," Dr Hilton says.

Some pet owners are even over-washing their dogs.

"In general, dogs are bathed more often than they need to be," Dr Hilton says.

However, if your dog has a skin condition, it’s important that you speak to your vet before bathing your dog once a week.

"The danger is dogs with allergic skin disease commonly have a defect in their skin barrier, which manifests as drying of the skin and that contributes to their misery," he says.

"And using harsh shampoos — harsh being anything that strips any further lipid [fatty protective] layer off the skin or damages it — potentially makes the itch worse."

If you’re concerned about how often you should be brushing your dog, it depends on the season and your dog’s fur.

Brushing your dog is good for prevention of painful tangles as well as the removal of shedding fur.

 "It also allows the dog to keep clean areas that it might otherwise struggle to, [such as] the tail and the chest," says Paul McGreevy, a professor of animal behaviour and animal welfare science at the University of Sydney's School of Veterinary Science.

Remaining vigilant about brushing is ideal as the weather warms up.

"It happens as the days start to get longer, basically from the footy grand final [in late September] onwards," he says .

"It's a seasonal response to summertime."

Brushing also has other benefits as teaching your dog to sit still, but this only works if you’re attentive to your dogs’ behaviour.

"The best owners are so attentive to the dog's behaviour that they can tell they're grooming an area that the dog really loves being groomed, and that's often the front of the chest and the tail — those hard-to-reach places."