A clean pup is a healthy pup, but if you’re a new pet parent, it may be confusing figuring out how often to bathe and groom your dog. However, the right bathing and grooming schedule for your pet will help maintain their overall skin and coat health and keep them comfortable.
The frequency of bathing and grooming your dog depends on a couple of factors including your dog’s breed, lifestyle and coat health.
If you’re trying to establish a grooming schedule for your dog, you can follow these guidelines to create the ideal program for your pup.
While the frequency of bathing may be different for each dog, Wendy Weinand, manager, pet services grooming education for Petco, says that a good rule to follow is to wash your dog every four weeks.
“This will help to keep their skin and coat clean and keep their natural oils spread out to help condition,” she says. “Plus, they will smell great.”
Regular bathing is important because it removes the buildup of dirt and debris on a dog’s skin and prevents potential skin conditions from developing such as clogged pores, itchiness, dry skin or oily skin. “When pets are dirty, their skin doesn’t ‘breathe’ correctly,” says Weinand, “and they can end up with some issues that may require veterinary care to fix.”
Keep in mind that dogs who play outdoors regularly or get dirty from rolling around in dirt and mud may need more frequent baths. Certain dog breeds may also need to be washed more than others.
“Certain breeds, like Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, have a naturally oily coat,” says Weinand. “Bathing them regularly will help remove the ‘dirty’ oils and replace them with clean, new natural oil the skin is producing.”
Seasonality may also affect the frequency of your dog’s baths, Weinand adds. In the winter, pet parents may want to bathe and condition their dog’s skin more frequently to cut down on dryness and itching. While in the spring, when pets are shedding, more frequent baths may be needed to help remove dead coat.
Be careful not to bathe your dog too often, because overwashing your dog’s skin can cause irritation. “Unless there is a medical reason for more frequent baths, overbathing your pet—say weekly or even every two weeks—can dry out the skin and coat,” says Weinand.
Grooming your dog’s hair and coat is another necessary pet parent responsibility. Like bathing, the frequency of grooming appointments or at-home grooming sessions will depend on your dog’s breed and coat length.
“The majority of breeds that need haircuts—for example Poodles, Cocker Spaniels and Yorkies—need to be seen every six to eight weeks to keep their coats from getting matted,” says Weinand. “Their coats tend to grow at a faster rate than some other breeds.”
Dogs with shorter coats, like the Brittany or Parson Terrier, can go longer between grooming appointments because their hair grows slower. These dog breeds should still be brushed regularly at home to keep their coats healthy.
Pet parents should watch for matting and pay attention to overall hair and coat health when brushing their dogs. If something doesn’t look right, they should consult with a veterinarian or dog groomer for professional treatment.
Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is a part of grooming that many pet parents find difficult, but it’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
“If nails get too long, it can cause issues with walking,” says Weinand. “Or they will crack up to the paw exposing the ‘vein,’ which can be very painful.” Additionally, “Not trimming your dog’s nails regularly can also lead to infections that may require veterinary intervention.”
Most dogs need their nails trimmed every two weeks, says Weinand. If dogs regularly walk outside on hard surfaces like sidewalks or pavement, they may require less frequent nail trims (every four weeks) because the act of walking can help file nails down.
If you’re unsure how to approach this part of grooming, watch this video to learn how to cut your dog’s nails properly.
For more guidance on your pet’s specific bathing and grooming needs, scroll through to find Petco’s recommended schedule below. If you don’t see your pet’s breed, you can call your local Petco grooming salon for recommendations.