Sure, it might be convention for us humans to shower daily (and for that we are grateful). But how often should you wash your dog? Do they need regular bathing? Or can we delay the guilt that comes with lathering up a trembling pup?
To find out, Mamamia spoke to Dr Robert Hilton, a Melbourne-based veterinarian who practices in the field of veterinary dermatology.
“People tend to wash their dogs far too frequently,” he said. “They are often washing their dogs trying to treat allergies or they’re just washing their dog quite unnecessarily thinking it’s a benefit to them.”
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So, how often should you wash your dog?
According to Dr Hilton, only if it needs it.
“You should wash your dog if it smells or it’s dirty, or if it has specific skin disease,” he said. “Some dogs need never be washed.”
Dr Beth McDonald, a specialist vet dermatologist from University of Sydney Veterinary School, noted that a number of factors will determine how often a dog ought to be bathed.
“There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should wash your dogs,” she said via email. “There are so many variables: length and type of coat; where the dog lives (inside or outside); does it swim; is it clipped; how big is the dog; does the dog like being bathed?”
What happens if you wash your dog too often?
Dr Hilton explained that washing strips away a protective barrier known as hydro-lipid film.
“These are a complex set of secretions; a mixture of skin cells that are dead and ready to be sloughed off, combined with watery apocrine secretions and oily sebaceous secretions. So this is a complex part of the epidermal barrier responsible for normal skin health and function and resistance to infection,” he said.
“When that layer is stripped away is could end up with drying of the skin, which can cause itch, and it could also cause loss of local defences, resulting in skin infections and irritation.”
What if your dog has a skin condition?
Skin conditions are incredible common in dogs; in fact, Dr Hilton said it’s the “the number one disease treated by veterinarians”. Many owners will attempt to treat the concern on their own by frequently bathing their dog, but Dr Hilton explains this can actually make the problem worse.