Most humans shower once a day, but how often should you wash your dog? Keep reading for guidelines to help determine the best dog bath frequency for your pet.
Many dog owners, especially new ones, might ask themselves: “How often should I wash my dog?” The correct answer is that all depends on what type of breed they are and how active they tend to be.
As humans, we take showers once a day or sometimes every other day. So, should we bathe our dogs just as frequently? Definitely, no! Dogs don’t need baths as often as humans do. The truth is that your dog would likely be just fine without a bath. Sometimes the bath is for the human’s comfort, not the pet’s.
A lot of owners think they can wash their dog on a weekly basis, and their dog will smell better. Well, wrong.
If you want the answer to the question how often should you wash your dog, the answer is complex.
How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?
There’s no prescribed bathing schedule that suits all dogs, and several factors need to be considered when determining bathing frequency.
The main factors are health, breed, coat, activity level, and where are these activities taking place. According to the ASPCA, your dog should be washed at least every three months, so 4 or 5 times a year.
It’s important to note that If you have a very young puppy, it’s a good idea to hold off baths for a bit. Young puppies can’t regulate their body temperature, so their first bath shouldn’t be before about eight weeks old.
The seasons shouldn’t affect how often you wash your dog. You can maintain your bathing routine during the summer, fall, winter, and spring season. However, when you wash your dog in the winter, keep your home warm. This is especially important if you have a sensitive dog.
An occasional wipe down can do wonders and is a lot less time-intensive than a full bath. Sometimes grooming wipes are a quick solution between baths.
Here are some questions to ask to help you determine how frequently you should put your dog through the waterworks.
If your dog suffers from certain health conditions, your groomer or veterinarian may suggest that you use medicated shampoo while bathing your dog. Depending on the condition, your dog may be better off with no washing, or may need more regular bathing.
For dogs with some forms of skin disease, the washing process can dry out the dog’s skin and should be avoided.
Dog owners who suffer from allergies can try to combat the problem by bathing their dogs more often to wash away dander.
What Type of Fur Do They Have?
First and foremost, not all dogs have the same coat and fur. The type of coat your dog has is a big factor in how often he requires baths.
In general, shorter fur means less frequent baths while longer fur means more frequent baths.
Some dogs with short fur, like Beagles, only require baths every few months and more frequent baths can actually make their coats dry or itchy. On the other hand, long coats generally require more regular baths because longer fur typically catches more dirt and dander.
For dogs with medium to large coats, a bath could be needed on every 4-6 weeks, as long as the coat is properly maintained in-between baths.
How Active Are They?
Bathing frequency is largely based on activity level and where those activities take place. In the summer months, or during periods of high activity, dogs may produce more oils through their skin and develop an odor faster.
Healthy dogs who spend the time inside may only need to be bathed a few times a year to control natural ‘doggy odors.’ On the other hand, healthy dogs that spend more time outside are more likely to need bathing on every 3-4 weeks because they’re simply more likely to get dirty.
How to Wash A Dog
Always follow the same routine when you wash your dog. This way, your dog knows what to expect. It will also speed up the bathing process when you have a system down.
You can use dog-safe shampoo, and for those double-coated breeds, a de-shedding shampoo can help cut down on the amount of hair they shed. Doggie conditioner is probably not necessary for most breeds, but long-haired dogs whose fur can mat easily may benefit.
I recommend starting with the body first and the head last, because dogs tend to shake their heads when wet.
These are the main steps to follow to wash a dog completely.
- Brush your dog before the bath to remove any excess fur or tangles.
- Keep the water temperature slightly warm but not hot. Don’t let them get into a shocking cold bath.
- Rinse them down.
- Add the shampoo. Work it up into a nice lather. While shampooing, avoid contact with the dog’s nose and eyes to avoid causing any irritation.
- Make sure to rub the hair on the neck and paws because these places tend to be the dirtiest.
- Rinse off the shampoo.
- Use a large towel to try your dog off and for long-haired dogs, use a hair dryer if they’re comfortable with it.
- Reward your dog with treats after to continue reinforcing bath time as a positive experience.
Some dogs love a good bath, while others want nothing to do with it. To make bath time easier, train your dog to stay calm during baths from the get go.
In general, healthy dogs only need to be bathed if they smell. So, if your dog comes into the room and you can smell him, he needs a bath.
However, there’s no reason particularly to bath a healthy dog, unless they’re dirty.
Washing your dog too often (on a weekly or even biweekly schedule) can strip their skin of oils, damage hair follicles, increase risk of bacterial or fungal infections, and disrupt natural insulation.
Many owners ignore this and think they are doing something good by washing their dog every week.
Last but note least, keeping your pet clean isn’t just about bathing. Consistently brushing your dog is actually more important than bathing. Most dogs benefit from daily brushing. It’s a great way to make sure natural oils are distributed throughout his coat, it prevents him from getting knots in his fur, and it helps you bond.