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How Often Should You Give Your Dog a Bath? | BetterVet

Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and coat types, but pretty much all of them will need a bath at some point in their lives! If you are new to owning a dog or have recently taken on a new breed, then you might be wondering when you need to bathe your new family member. So, how often can you bathe your dog – and what are the situations when bathing your dog is beneficial?

When Should I Give My Dog a Bath?

There are a few different situations where we might want to give our dogs a bit of a clean-up. 

When They Are Dirty

If your dog likes to roll in muddy puddles or animal droppings, then it’s always a good idea to give them a bath. Walks on the beach should always be followed by a shower too, to rinse off the salt and sand from their coat. 

It’s fine to spot-rinse your dog if it’s just on one area of your dog’s body that is dirty, but if it’s all over, then they may need a bath from nose to tail.

When They Start to Smell

Dogs don’t sweat – except through their paws – but they still have natural bacteria and yeast that live on their skin. These do not cause healthy dogs any issues but can lead to a general “doggy” odor over time, especially as they get older. Washing can reduce the levels of bacteria or yeast and get rid of some of the compounds that cause this rather musty odor. 

When They Are Itchy

There are lots of reasons why dogs may become itchy. Fleas, allergies, and irritation from something on their skin are all common reasons why dogs may start to scratch, so (aside from checking for fleas), the first remedy for an itchy dog should be a gentle bath. For dogs with allergies, a medicated shampoo from your veterinarian can be a helpful part of managing their discomfort. 

So, that covers the when – but how often can you bathe your dog?

How Often Should I Give My Dog a Bath?

How often a dog needs a bath will depend on what kind of coat they have, and how healthy their skin is. 

 

How often should I give my healthy dog a bath?

A dog with no skin issues doesn’t need to be bathed regularly – indeed, washing too often can strip the healthy oils from a dog’s coat and may make them itchy and uncomfortable. It’s fine to bathe your dog every four to six weeks to keep their odor under control, though short-haired dogs may not need this as frequently. If you are finding you need to bathe your dog more often then you should speak to your veterinarian, as this may be a sign that your dog would benefit from a medicated shampoo. 

If your dog is dirty, it’s fine to give them a bath – some dogs will get mucky several times a week! Try to just wash the dirty areas, rather than your whole dog, if you can. 

How often should I give a dog with allergies a bath?

Bathing can be an important way to control skin allergies in dogs and will often involve using a medicated shampoo to help control the number of bacteria and yeast on a dog’s skin. Dogs with skin allergies can be bathed more often than healthy dogs – sometimes as often as once or twice a week. Speak to your veterinarian for an individual recommendation for your dog. 

How often should I bathe my puppy?

Puppies generally do not need bathing as often as adult dogs – they should not develop a general odor until they are at least six to twelve months old, depending on the breed. However, it is a good idea to get them used to being bathed gently when they are young, just using some plain warm water to start. It’s fine to rinse them off after they get dirty, too!

Most pet parents will need to give their dog a bath every now and then to keep them clean and prevent them from developing an odor. However, it is possible to bathe dogs too often, and this can lead to itchiness and irritation. As a general rule, you can bathe a dog every four to six weeks to keep their odor under control – but if they get dirty, it’s fine to give them a rinse in between!
 

If you are needing to wash your dog more than once a month to control their odor, or they are itchy after being bathed, then you should arrange a check-up with your veterinarian

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is it possible to bathe a dog too often?

If you bathe a healthy dog too often, then you can strip the protective oils from their coat and cause irritation. Healthy dogs should generally only be bathed every four to six weeks unless they are dirty. 

Should I bathe my hairless dog?

Yes, hairless or partly hairless dogs need bathing too! Otherwise, they can develop a build-up of oil and grease on their skin, which is usually absorbed by the fur in haired dogs. Hairless dogs should be bathed at least once a month – some will need weekly bathing to keep their skin clean.  

What kind of shampoo should I use to give my dog a bath? 

Most dogs can be bathed using a simple shampoo from the pet store, which will help to keep them clean and reduce their odor. Dogs with allergies may benefit from a medicated shampoo to help reduce their itchiness. If your dog gets something sticky or greasy in their coat, then dish soap may be more effective than regular shampoo in removing it. 

I bathed my dog, but they still smell bad – why?

There are other reasons besides their coat that dogs may carry a bad odor. Common problems include dental disease, ear infections, and anal sac issues. If your dog still smells stinky after a bath, then you should see your veterinarian.