How Often Should You Give a Dog a Bath? Here’s What the Experts Say

How Often Should You Give a Dog a Bath? Here’s What the Experts Say

Personal hygiene is just as important for dogs as it is for people! While you’ll often notice your pup grooming itself, the question arises: How often should my dog be bathed?

The truth is, there is no definite answer to how often you should wash your dog. It depends on many factors. Breed, health, and activity are just a few factors to consider. Observing some basic guidelines will help you make the right decisions. The easy answer is, if your dog has rolled in something foul or is beginning to look a little grubby, it’s probably time for a bath.

Today we will discuss a few things to take into consideration when determining if your pooch is ready for a bath and a few of the best ways to bathe them! With this guide, the process of answering this question for yourself should be relatively painless.

How Often Should I Wash My Dog?

The answer varies from one dog to the next. A good rule of thumb is to bathe your dog whenever they smell. However, there are a few variables to take into consideration when deciding how often to bathe your dog. Use your best judgment when determining how often to bathe your dog. 

Activity and Routine

Activity and routine are two major factors when determining when to bathe your dog and will likely be the two factors you are able to observe the easiest. A dog’s typical day will dictate how dirty they get. If your pup is spending most of their time outside, then chances are they’ll need to be bathed more often. If your dog spends the majority of their time inside, only venturing out for walks, then they’re a lot less likely to be caked in mud or dirt, resulting in less frequent bathing.

Breed

The breed of your pooch is significant because of their coat. The coarseness or fineness of fur and the length can have a considerable impact on how dirty it can get and how long it takes to get dirty. A Bearded Collie, for example, might spend most of its time indoors and only go out for walks twice a day, but one roll in the dirt will result in a filthy coat. At the same time, a Miniature Pinscher or a Boxer may not pick up grime as quickly due to their shorter coats. 

If your dog breed is long-haired or extra fuzzy, you might want to consider frequent brushing and wipe downs in between baths to maintain proper cleanliness. Also, consider that certain breeds are known to produce more natural oils than others. For example, dog breeds like a Basset Hound produce more natural oils and can handle more frequent baths, while Retrievers have water-resistant coats and need to be brushed more and bathed less to protect their coat’s natural oils. 

Health Factors

Your pet’s health is an important factor for several reasons. Mainly, certain illnesses may require medical shampoo: Mange, fleas, and certain skin conditions requiring precise bathing times and instructions with specially formulated shampoos.

Allergies also play a part in your dog’s bathing habits. This can refer to your allergies or your pup’s. If your dog has a skin allergy or sensitivity, natural bathing products such as shampoos and soaps are available. Additionally, if you, the owner, suffer from severe allergies, dogs with coats that can withstand more bathing are a good option, as you can bathe them to rid their fur of any allergens you may be sensitive to.

If sensitive skin is an issue, and giving full baths is a possible problem, you can purchase fully biodegradable wipes made with aloe and coconut water to help keep your dog clean. These can lengthen the time between full baths and help keep your pet clean without exposure to harsher products.


Why Do I Need To Wash My Dog? 

While your dog may be observed grooming themself, this practice does not provide the full body wash that an actual bath will. They’re working on getting any sort of annoyances out that they’ve found in their coat, as well as any pests that may be present. The grooming they are doing is purely functional and does not lend itself to actual cleanliness. 

Washing your pup may be more for you than it is for them, as they don’t mind a bit of grime and odor. There are benefits to the way we bathe our dogs, though. One such benefit is comfort.

Giving your pooch a nice cool bath in the dead of summer is sure to make them feel better than ever! And if they’ve got mats starting in their fur, then getting some water in their coat and getting those mats unbunched will certainly feel good on their skin.


What Should I Use To Wash my Dog?

There are a number of dog-specific products on the market in relation to bathing, and some people will even recommend that products like dish soap or people shampoo be used. There are very few reasons to go the route of dish soap, as there are shampoos and conditioners for every kind of dog available. 

When choosing a product or method to bathe your dog with, there are a few things to consider, like breed, health, and routine, of course. There is a lot of information surrounding what products work best for dogs, but ultimately the decision is yours, and you know your pup’s needs better than most.

  • Natural shampoos are less harsh on sensitive skin than other shampoos. It will also not hurt as much if it gets in your pet’s eyes. 
  • Stronger shampoos meant for oil elimination, and oily coats are available for breeds that need it. 
  • As a general rule of thumb, flea and tick shampoo should not be used preventatively. Instead, it is more effective and better for your pet that you only use it in response to an already-existing problem.
  • Depending on your dog’s breed, they may have extremely sensitive skin. In this case, you can get by with no soap, just warm water, and pat dry. 


Best Ways to Wash Your Dog

There are several variables to consider, but you should follow these simple steps as a general guide. 

  1. Brush your dog first. This will remove the extra dirt and hair so that the bath will have much better results. 
  2. Keep the water at a warm temperature for your pet’s comfort. Not too hot, not too cold.
  3. Lather your pet in the shampoo of your choice, taking care to avoid sensitive areas like the eyes and nose.
  4. Rinse off your dog thoroughly. 
  5. Gently dry your dog with a towel, taking care not to pull their hair. Alternatively, a hair-dryer on a low power and low heat setting can be used. 
  6. Provide a treat to your pup after they finish bathing. Rewards go a long way when it comes to activities that they may not want to do.


Should I Use a Groomer?

Whether or not you should use a groomer should be based on you and your dog. Does your dog have healthy skin? Do they, for the most part, remain clean? Is your pup small enough to be bathed in a sink? Do they behave well for you when being bathed? If so, then a groomer may not be necessary.

That being said, some dogs are tough to bathe. Whether it has to do with their behavior, their breed, or their health, any special circumstances may be better handled by a groomer. 

Not only will they make your life easier, but just like going to a dealership to get your oil changed, a groomer will do more than just wash your dog. They trim nails, trim hair, brush teeth. They also might be able to recognize the start of skin issues, so you can be ahead of them.

Spend some time and do a little research to decide if a groomer is right for you. It can also come down to finances; it is cheaper to bathe the dog yourself than to pay someone. Taking all this into consideration, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. 


Final Thoughts

Bathing your dog may not be as simple as it seems when you get into the nitty-gritty of it. There are many things to be considered when you are questioning the hygiene habits you have in place for your pup. Breed, health, and behavior are all critical factors in deciding how often to bathe your dog and whether or not you need the assistance of a groomer. Your love for your pup is the root of bathing habits, as it’s something that you do to keep them comfortable, as well as smelling good!



Sources

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog? | Hill’s Pet
Tips for Bathing a Dog at Home | Preventive Vet
Why Your Dog's Coat Gets Matted — and What You Can Do About It | Preventive Vet