How often does a dog need a bath? It depends

Q: Our veterinarian says we should bathe our Basenji once every week or two, but I’ve read online that some dogs can go for months without a bath. Can you settle this question?

A: Based on the eau de wet chien that perfumes my exam rooms on Saturday mornings, it’s plain that people believe bathing their dogs is a desirable thing to do. While I generally agree, here are factors to consider:

• Breed and hair coat: Healthy dogs with thin, oilier coats may require baths as often as once or twice a week, while dogs with thick, arctic-breed coats and access to AC may only require baths once every few months.

• The smell factor: If your dog smells funky after a week, a bath might be indicated.

• Skin disease: Allergies, seborrhea (dry yet sometimes oily flakiness) and parasites (mange or fleas, for example) are all potential reasons to increase your bathing frequency – up to once daily for some conditions. (Medicated, dog-specific shampoo is typically indicated for high-frequency bathing.)

• Lifestyle: If puppy-park visits, bathroom habits or dirt-bath antics are an issue, ask your veterinarian to recommend a shampoo that works well for frequent bathing of filth-prone dogs.

• Allergies: If anyone in your household is allergic to your dog, you’ll want to bathe her more often. Weekly is the common recommendation.

Non-detergent shampoos are best for the sensitive skin of geriatric dogs and pups. However, for most pets, a simple, soap-based, pet-only shampoo is just fine. As always, ask your veterinarian what’s best for your pet.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami. Her website is Send questions to

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