How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog

A dog being bathed

How often you should bathe your dog depends greatly on their breed, coat type and usual activities, but a bath every 4 to 8 weeks is considered standard. Bathing your dog on a regular basis can help keep his (or her) coat and skin healthier, reducing irritation and the scratching and chewing that comes with it. It can also decrease shedding and dander levels and keep your dog — and home — smelling fresh.

However, there are some factors that increase or decrease how often bathing is necessary. They include:

  • A little too much outdoor fun. Dogs love to get dirty, and if your pooch is the kind who likes to roll around in the mud — or other things — you may find that bathing weekly is a necessity. Anytime your dog is visibly dirty, and it's more than something a quick wipe or brush can handle, a bath is a good idea.
  • A particularly smelly breed. Some canines are just more prone to that signature dog smell. Breeds in the hound family, those with water-resistant coats and dogs that have floppy ears may all need more regular bathing to keep odours at bay.
  • Allergies and other medical issues. Dogs who have specific medical needs, such as skin allergies, or who are dealing with fleas may need to be bathed more frequently because of the use of medicated shampoos. If you think your dog may fall into this category, it's important to talk to a vet before adjusting the bathing schedule, as some allergies and skin conditions can be worsened by more frequent baths.

Tips on How to Bathe a Dog

If you've ever tried to give a dog a bath, you already know it can be a bit complicated. However, a little advanced planning and a good attitude can go a long way toward making it a more pleasant experience for both of you.

  • Get prepared. Get out the dog shampoo (tearless, if possible – only use shampoo formulated for dogs) and put some towels down in the bathroom — the more, the better — to catch the inevitable spills and sloshes. It's also a good idea to have an extra towel or two ready to throw over your dog to limit the spray that comes from the after-bath shake. Before your dog gets in, set the water temp to lukewarm. If your dog hates the tub or needs to sit and let a medicated shampoo soak in, a little peanut butter or another dog-friendly food on the shower wall can help keep them occupied and provide positive reinforcement that baths are a good thing.
  • Use the proper tools. A handheld sprayer is worth its weight in gold when it comes to bathing your dog quickly and efficiently, and it can be especially helpful in getting close to the skin for dogs who have water-resistant coats. Putting a rubber mat in the bottom of your tub can help your dog feel more secure so he isn’t slipping all over the place. And having your shampoo within arms reach and with the lid already open is also helpful in case you have to apply it one handed.
  • End at the head. The classic ‘wet dog shake’ starts at the head, so it’s best to wash the body first and end by gently cleaning the head and ears. This may help keep you and your bathroom a little dryer.
  • Have a drying plan. Using a hair dryer (on the cool or warm setting, but never hot) is the most convenient option, but if your dog is scared of the noise, towel him off as thoroughly as possible and put him outside to finish drying — as long as the weather is warm and dry and he’s not the type to roll.
  • Make it fun. Your dog may never learn to love the bath, but having a special toy or treat he only gets at that time can make it better. And starting a bathing routine as a puppy can also help get your dog accustomed to the process from an early age.

If you're looking for tools or tips that can make bathing your dog easier and keep them smelling fresh, Purina has advice on how to bathe a dog that can help.

Related articles

man holding his cat next to a vet
Click here to learn more about the FVRCP vaccine for cats. Find answers to common questions about what the vaccine is and when to vaccinate.
kitten looking out from a knit bowl
Average Cat Weight – What is a Healthy Cat Weight?