Everyone knows it's not good if you never give your dog a bath. But how much bathing is too much?
TeddyHilton.com reader, Katie, wrote in to Dr. Patrick Mahaney:
Can you put something up about how often is ok to give your dog a bath? I have heard you should only wash them once a month because you could dry out their skin. But, my dog gets dirty fast with trips to the dog park and I like to give him a bath every wknd. Is this ok?
Also, here's another one regarding flea and tick medicine. I know you should put it on every month. What if you forget to put it on after 30 days and apply the next dose 45 days later? Is the medicine still working for those 15 days or are you risking it? thanks for your help!!
Dr. Patrick responded:
Thank you for your questions.
There is never an exact number of times that one should bathe their dog, as each dog is unique and the need for frequency of bathing is determined by many factors. Shedding breeds tend to need less frequent bathing than non-shedding breeds as their pieces of dirty hair just fall out.
If your dog frequently goes to the dog park and gets dirty, then I recommend bathing on an "as needed" basis. Dog park dirt often contains fecal material from dogs owned by less than responsible owners who neglect to pick up after their pooch. If your dog rolls around in the dog park dirt or mud, then you, other dogs, or family members could be at risk to come in contact with bacteria, parasites, or viruses that have adverse health consequences.
I have a Welsh Terrier, Cardiff, who gets bathed approximately every 7 days. If you use a moisturizing, pet appropriate shampoo, then a weekly bath is fine. Washing doesn't necessarily dry out the skin, but it does remove some oil, debris, bacteria, skin cells, and other material from the skin's surface.
Regarding flea and tick medication. It is best to follow the manufacturer's recommended guideline if you live in an area with a heavy flea and tick burden. If there is a delay in the next product application, then there may be a period of time your pet is susceptible to flea or tick infestation. At the same time, remember that such topical treatments are not force fields and ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, and other insects) can still get onto your pet's skin (pending the product).
My recommendation is to keep your pet's skin surface and home environment as clean as possible to reduce the likelihood fleas and other insects can take up residence in carpet, bedding, and other fabrics. In keeping the environment cleaner (and not taking your pet places where insects thrive), you may be able to reduce your pet's need for application of a topical.