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Our furry friends can be surprisingly good at keeping themselves clean. Cats in particular can be quite fastidious in their grooming habits! However, there are times when pets could clearly benefit from a wash.

There are no hard-and-fast rules as to how often you need to give your cat or dog a bath, though, so let’s look at the signs that it may be time for a good old soak.

Your pet has dandruff or greasy fur

Dandruff is an unsightly skin condition that causes dry, flaky skin. It affects pets as much as humans and can be caused by anything from a skin infection to your pet’s diet. Baths can help soothe a pet suffering from dandruff, but seeing a vet should be first on your list. They’ll be able to find the cause and recommend a suitable shampoo.

Similarly, pets with greasy fur will also need more frequent baths as an oily coat will attract dirt easily, resulting in more mats.

Your pooch has that ‘doggy’ smell

Our canine friends emit a natural smell that most dog owners get used to and are happy to live with. However, an unusually strong ‘dog smell’ should always be checked by a vet.

The average dog will probably need washing every couple of months, but the frequency will always depend on factors like their coat type and lifestyle. Dogs that play outside every day and get muddy will need more frequent baths than less active dogs. Long hair breeds will also require more maintenance. Do not bathe your dog more than once a week, though, as this can dry out their skin and fur.

Your cat can’t groom properly

Cats are expert groomers who are constantly licking themselves clean. But if your kitty’s coat has recently started to look unkempt, it’s important that you find out why.

Often, cats become less adept at grooming when a health problem is stopping them. It may be that your cat is a little overweight and can’t effectively clean herself, or that joint pain is making it hard. When this happens, brushing your cat every day and giving her the occasional bath (if she lets you!) will help keep her coat clean and healthy. While dogs are more prone to getting dirty, you may find that brushing and wipes are enough for your cat.

Your pet has fleas, ticks or mites

If you’ve found fleas, ticks or mites in your pet’s coat, a bath and the right shampoo can help wash out the parasites and soothe your pet’s itchy skin. Talk to your vet for advice on the right product, and most importantly: make sure you’re on top of your pet’s flea and tick treatments.

Every dog and cat should be on flea and tick prevention all year long – especially when they are susceptible to skin allergies. This takes us to the next point…

Your pet is experiencing allergies

Skin allergies are common in cats and dogs. They usually appear when there is a reaction to something they came in contact with, like flea bites, an ingredient in their food or an environmental trigger (pollen is a common one).

A good bathing routine can help soothe and manage a range of skin issues. But to find the cause and right treatment for the allergy, you’ll need to speak to your vet. They may recommend a hypoallergenic or oatmeal shampoo: two popular products for pets who have sensitive, dry or itchy skin.

And speaking of shampoos: always remember to use one that is formulated for pets. This is because human shampoos have different pH levels and often use ingredients that can irritate your pet’s skin.

Do you need some tips on how to bathe your cat or dog? This article explains it step by step.