How Often Should You Wash Your Dog? (A Definitive Guide)

There’s no definite answer to the number of times you should wash your dog. According to the AKC (American Kennel Club), dogs need baths depending on many factors that range from the activity levels to coat type and health (i.e., allergies and skin conditions).

In simple terms, it depends. However, it is recommendable to wash your dog as many times as necessary. Most dogs have a problem staying clean. Dogs will play in the mud and want to cuddle on a sofa. While it's almost impossible to keep your canine friend clean 24/7, you should do your best. Most dog owners wash their dogs anywhere from once every week to once every three months, depending on the factors discussed below.

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Factors Determining: How Often Should You Bathe A Dog?

1. Coat Type

Different dog breeds have different coat types. Dogs with more hair will usually need more baths and grooming for obvious reasons. However, this shouldn’t be translated to mean that dogs with short coats should be neglected. While most dog owners may be tempted to focus on coat length to determine bath frequency, some dog breeds like the Chinese Crested with short coats actually need more care than their counterparts with long coats.

Generally, long-coated dog breeds should have weekly baths, while medium-coated dog breeds should have a bath weekly or every 4 to 6 weeks if the coat is maintained properly in-between baths.

It is worth noting that there are exceptions to this recommendation. For instance, long-haired dog breeds like the Puli shouldn’t be bathed often when corded. Unlike most dog breeds, the Puli doesn’t emit typical dog odor eliminating the need for frequent baths.

Dogs with thick/double coats such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Siberian Huskies have naturally insulating coats. Over-bathing such dogs get rid of the much-needed oil disrupting the coat's insulating capabilities. Besides occasional baths, it's recommendable to use unique products for shedding to avoid disrupting the insulation.

2. Health

Your dog’s health will also determine how often you wash them. If your dog has certain health conditions, your vet or groomer may suggest a specific bathing routine dictating the number of baths and products to use. However, it is recommendable to have a grooming regiment even if your dog is healthy. All dogs will benefit from cleaning regimens that include nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth cleaning.

A thorough wash using medicated shampoo coupled with thorough coat brushing and conditioning is important every time you wash your pup for your dog's overall health and well-being. If your dog is prone to allergies or skin conditions, they may need more or fewer baths.

Your own health should also be considered. This applies mostly to dog owners who have allergies to pet dander. If you are allergic to dander, have a weekly bathing routine for your dog. It’s also important to have a dog breed that won’t be affected by over–bathing if you are allergic.

3. Activity Levels

Your dog’s activity levels will also dictate the number of baths they should receive. If your dog is extremely active and can’t stay clean in-between recommended bath times, you may need to wash them more often. The same applies to dogs that spend more time outdoors than indoors.

This factor applies mostly to long-haired dogs, which get dirty very fast. If you have a hunting dog or golden retriever that jumps on mud puddles or rolls on dirty floors, you may need to give them frequent baths. Alternatively, you can give them a rubdown using a damp towel every time they have an overly active day. You don't need to bath your active dog every day.

Dog In A Bath

Can I Wash My Dog Once A Week?

Yes. But it depends. In general, you should wash your furry friend weekly or at least once every 3 months, depending on the factors discussed above. If you must wash your furry friend more frequently than required because of activity levels, use a gentle shampoo to avoid effects of over-cleaning i.e., causing irritation and dryness.

You can rely on smell to decide when to wash your canine. If he/she starts to smell before a week is over, it’s time for a bath. Dogs need natural oils (produced by the skin) to boost hair growth. Washing your dog once a week (which can equate to over-cleaning for some breeds) can cause skin problems.

Can I Give My Dog A Bath Without Water?

Yes. For instance, you can wipe your dog's paws and coat using dog wipes to reduce odors and bacteria. Wipes are handy at home and on the move. In some instances, your dog may not be entirely dirty. You can wipe your dog's paws and coat to get rid of dirt and allow your dog access to the house after an outdoor session.

How Do I Select The Right Bathing Products For My Dog?

Skin pH is a critical factor when picking a bathing product for your dog. Dogs have neutral skin (neither alkaline nor acidic), making them susceptible to products that aren't specifically designed for them. You should buy a mild moisturizing dog shampoo. However, be careful as dogs can still react negatively. You should stop using mild moisturizing shampoos that cause side effects like itchy skin, red skin and/or hives.

The shampoo should also be harmless when ingested. Some negative effects of ingested shampoo include drooling, vomiting, and decreased appetite. Visit a vet immediately to get appropriate remedies and alternative products if the shampoo or grooming products have resulted in negative side effects. Your vet can give you recommendations if you don't know which shampoo to buy. He/she is the best placed professional to recommend a good cleaning product based on your dog's medical history.

Dog Being Washed

How Do I Wash My Dog?

If you want to wash your dog but don’t know where to start, here are some steps to consider.

How To Wash Your Dog Infographic

Step 1: Buy Dog-specific Shampoo Among Other Supplies

Your vet can guide you on the shampoo you should use to deal with the specific needs of your dog. A vet or fellow dog owner can also guide you. When buying shampoo, consider hypo-allergenic products made of all-natural ingredients to avoid dryness and skin irritations. You’ll also need other supplies like cotton balls to clean your dog’s ears, a bath mat, towel, brush, etc.

Step 2: Prepare Your Dog For A Bath

You can wash your dog in a bathtub. Alternatively, you can get a special tub for your dog. Remember to brush your dog's coat to remove excess hair and tangles before wetting their coat with water and apply shampoo. You should use warm water to keep your dog comfortable. Warm water also lathers up fast. You can use hot water, but make sure it's not scalding hot. Before you begin, make sure you have everything you require nearby. You shouldn’t leave your dog unattended.

Step 3: Start Cleaning From The Bottom, Rinse From The Head 

Your shampoo should provide washing instructions. Follow them to the letter. Pay attention to the areas prone to dirt like the paws and belly. You should begin with the paws working your way up. Finish with the face to prevent water from getting into the ears and eyes. It will also reduce shaking instances. You should rinse from the head, making sure you have a clear stream.

Step 4: Dry With A Towel Or Blow-dry

Finish by drying your dog. Towels are better when you want to dry your dog quickly and reduce instances of them shaking and wetting you and the surrounding. You can use a towel initially then blow dry. Blow drying your dog is advisable if they have long hair that takes a long time to dry.

Should I Call A Professional To Clean My Dog?

While you can use your dog's bath time to bond, some dog's hate baths. If you have washed your dog once or more times but didn't enjoy the experience, you can always have a professional do it for you. Alternatively, you can work out ways of making your dog enjoy their bath time, such as giving them snacks (their favourite dog food) and massages to make the process more enjoyable.

Do Dogs Really Need Baths?

Yes. Although dogs don't need baths as often as humans, they need a certain degree of cleanliness to stay healthy and avoid smelling funny. Dogs can develop skin diseases because of dirt or pests on their fur and skin.

How Often Do You Bathe A Puppy?

Like older dogs, the number of times you wash a puppy is dependent on factors discussed above, such as the breed, activity levels, and health. Given puppies have more sensitive skin and coats, cleaning should be when necessary or as advised by your vet. Some puppies may require more frequent cleaning due to higher activity levels compared to older dogs. The opposite also applies to puppy breeds that are generally inactive. When unsure, consult a vet or fellow pet owner who has the same dog breed.

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