Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dog Longevity Survey Part II: How Important Are Regular Baths to Longevity?

I confess this was a trick question. I wanted to see if you guys were paying attention. I wonder how many of you answered that regular baths are important simply because it was listed in the survey?

Naturally, grooming is indeed important; we've over went over that one. It is important to keep your dog clean, free of mats, free of parasites, and monitoring for any wounds, lumps, and bumps. But is bathing really something dogs need?


Extremely important23.33%
Important13.33%
Somewhat important33.33%
Not important23.33%
I don't know  0.00%
Other  6.67%


Fess up. Do you bathe your dog for their sake or yours?


Nobody wants a dirty dog on their couch or bed, some wouldn't even want them on a fancy carpet. I admit I don't either. Most of the time, though, thorough brushing is enough to remove most of the dirt they collect during their play and outdoor romping.

When walking Jasmine and JD, we used to meet a guy with a sweet, lovely Golden Retriever. Every time they got out of the truck, she looked beautiful and clean. Every time they were leaving she was dripping with mud. Because we have always had short-haired dogs, I asked him how he deals with all that dirt and gets her so nice and clean. All he customarily did was brushing her.

The only time a bath can be crucial to health is to remove toxins or irritants. 


If your dog has environmental allergies, washing off the allergens is helpful keeping the skin happier. If your dog's skin is already fighting infection, medical baths can be crucial. You have to wash your dog after being sprayed by a skunk, or if a topical product, such as flea or tick preventive is causing issues such as the reaction Cookie had to Canine Advantix.

In all these cases, bathing is important, and some dogs might need it regularly.

All other dogs do just fine without being regularly bathed.


Dogs have been designed as "self-cleaning." Natural oils travel up from hair follicles to the tips of the hair, pushing along any dirt and debris. By the time the oils make it to the tips, it's all dried up and just falls away. So, in general, dogs don't need baths.

Jasmine had skin issues, so we bathed her regularly with a medical shampoo. Cookie or JD, though, only ever needed a bath for a specific reason, such as those I listed above.

Regular baths may or may not be important for your dog's well-being, depending on the situation. Typically, though, dogs do not need them.

All that said, everything depends on how "toxic" their environment might be.


If your dog might live in areas where they might be using pesticides and herbicides, if you like using dryer sheets or other chemicals for house cleaning ... then you might want to shower your dog regularly to wash off the toxins.

Do you bathe your dog regularly? Why?



Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
How Important Is Weight Management for Longevity?

20 comments

  1. I agree! WE bath Monte maybe ... 4-5 times a year and usually it's because he's gotten stained with something on a hike or some such. People always find it amazing that he doesn't smell and comment on how he smells like "yummy butterscotch". I wonder if he smells that good all the time because we don't bath him unless absolutely needed?

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    1. Could be. A healthy dog doesn't stink. Our guys get bathed rarely and never stunk either. Then, of course, are things like deer poop ... that is another story.

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  2. Magic loved getting wet, but hated the rinse cycle, so getting suds out of his fur always proved to be a challenge. Fortunately, we never had a toxicity issue with him (other than getting skunked a few times, LOL!)

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    1. Yeah, Cookie generally gets her bath when it's raining ;-) It's like a dinner and a movie but it's a walksie and a bath.

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  3. I confess that the one time we had a dog accidentally wander into the house (he was lost we got him home again!), it was a rainy day, he was a big Beagle and he smelled TOTALLY of very VERY wet dog. In that kid of situation if I was the owner I would feel I needed to bathe the dog, regardless of he wanted it or not.

    Maybe just a human practical thing - right?

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    1. Our guys never stunk from being vet ... usually there is more to it than the wetness. But yes, often it's a people thing more than a dog thing.

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  4. I really rarely bath my pets. Dogs or cats. I do if they get into something for sure. Otherwise good brushing, grooming in general is about it. Not to say we never do it for other reasons. Link LOVES water and Lyla feels soothed by the sometimes.

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    1. Pretty much the same here. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

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  5. We are not big on baths at our house. A quick rinse during the summer if they're super muddy, sure, or a real bath if they roll in something dead. But otherwise, they don't get a lot of baths. Maybe 3-5 all year and they're nice and clean. The one exception is our boy Ringo, who has seasonal allergies. I bathe him fairly often in the spring after he rolls around in the grass to keep him from itching too badly.

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    1. Yes, if there are environmental allergies it is good to rinse off the allergens.

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  6. Ugh - you've tapped into my guilt. We generally stick to baths in the warmer months unless somebody gets really stinky. I've gone to some professional places which make the process easier, but generally it's the back yard. And that is a pain in the tush. I've tried using the bathtub but 1) I don't want to clog my pipes and 2) Lifting a reluctant 70 pound dog into a tub isn't that fun. So the hose it is.

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    1. Preventing clogged pipes is easy with a drain gadget. Safety off getting the dog in and out of the tub is another story; that's why we're getting a shower stall instead so at least that is as safe as anything else.

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  7. We give our dogs baths in the summer after we take them to the lake to swim. Our lakes get algae and they usually smell like lake water if we don't bathe them. I'm sure they don't care, but we do :) During the winter months, they almost never get a bath unless they find a mud puddle to roll in (which they have).

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    1. Ah, swampy-smelling puppy; I got used to that ;-)

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  8. I used to only bathe my dogs if they got really dirty or smelly, or for Christmas. Now I bathe Buffy after I shave her fur, so about every 4 - 6 weeks. The bath helps remove a lot of the excess fur.

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    1. Yes, true, bath helps with brushing out undercoat too.

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  9. There was a discussion on a Persian health FB page this week about how often we should bathe our Persian cats. It all depended on how messy they were while eating and using the litter box. The more important thing for Persians is to keep their fur groomed. My girls haven't had a full bath since they were kittens.

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    1. I wouldn't even think that cats would need much bathing given they spend so much time grooming themselves.

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  10. Great differences to note, and this subject comes up a lot with clients that have skin issues. I confess my dogs get bathed perhaps once a year. Otherwise, I just wipe their paws or fur with a baby wipe or towel to rid them of excess dirt. They are very good at keeping themselves clean.

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    1. Yes, they are. I don't remember when was the last time Cookie was bathed ... a long time ago. Got her bum washed when she leaked urine, that's about it. And gets "a shower" when it's raining outside :-)

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