Giving your dog a bath can turn into a spectacle fairly quickly, depending on how eager he is to get wet and sudsy. So, how often should you wash your dog? The answer is more like a flowchart than a one-size-fits-all answer. Here are some questions to ask to help you determine how frequently you should put your pup (and yourself) through the waterworks.
1. Is your dog covered in mud?
Feel free to replace “mud” with dirt, grime, sand or anything else you don’t want him tracking through the house. If your dog has rolled in some gross stuff, it’s time for a bath.
2. Does your dog have healthy skin?
If your dog has a healthy coat and skin, giving him a bath every four weeks or so should be more than enough (unless he rolls in mud or something that requires a good scrub). Keep in mind, this is just a recommendation. Cesar Millan bathes his pups once a month. The ASPCA says once every three months is ideal. RSPCA Pet Insurance says you should only give your dog a bath “when necessary.”
Note: Bathing too often can dry out a dog’s skin, which can then cause irritation or perpetual skin problems. Don’t overdo it!
3. Does your dog have skin conditions?
Canines who have already been diagnosed with skin conditions will likely require special bathing routines. Allergies and dermatitis (hot spots) can cause excessive itching, which dries out the skin and could lead to infections. Your vet will be able to diagnose these issues and prescribe specific bathing procedures, including frequency. It’s likely you’ll need special shampoo and conditioner, too. Dog spa, anyone?
4. Does your dog smell bad?
We have to ask. If your dog is oozing a nasty stench, get thee to a bath! However, a persistent odor or returning smell could be a sign of a deeper issue. Check with your vet, as they can look for signs of disease that could be causing the smell.
5. What kind of coat does your dog have?
The length, texture and style of your dog’s coat is a huge factor in how often you should wash your dog. The American Kennel Club has tons of expert grooming tips for every breed. It’s worth checking out, because many people assume a short coat calls for less grooming. Not so! For instance, a bearded collie’s long hair must be brushed regularly with different types of combs; a hairless Chinese crested dog needs a weekly bath; a Boston terrier requires only the occasional bath but frequent brushing. Which brings us to our next question…
6. How often are you brushing your dog’s coat?
Getting rid of tangles and knots in long coats should happen way more often than baths. Many breeds benefit from weekly, if not daily, brushing sessions. This is a great way to get rid of dust, leaves and anything else your pup may have picked up outside or around the house.
7. What’s on your dog’s paws?
Maybe you dog isn’t covered in mud, but it can’t hurt to wipe down their paws after being outside—especially if they walked over salt in the winter—with grooming wipes like this biodegradable version from Wild One.
When in doubt, ask yourself when you last bathed your pup. If it was less than four weeks ago, he’s healthy and he hasn’t recently rolled in muck, give him a good brushing and call it a day.
5 Products to Keep Your Dog Groomed and Clean
1. FURminator deShedding Edge Dog Brush
This grooming tool is great because it not only offers two sizes (small and large) but also two varieties for short hair or long hair. Frequent use helps to eliminate shedding. Plus, you can even use it on your cat...if she’ll let you.
2. Pet MD Aloe Vera & Eucalyptus Dog Ear Wipes
These gently remove dirt and keep your dog’s ears free of wax and discharge, which can cause infections and odor, without irritating even the most sensitive skin and without doing the whole bath thing.
3. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Dog Shampoo
This stuff does a lot of work: It treats symptoms of dermatitis, seborrhea, mange and other parasitic or bacterial infections; helps soothe and eliminate scaling, rashes and inflammation; and hydrates skin and promotes healing. Plus, it’s paraben-, dye- and soap-free.
4. Wild One Conditioning Shampoo
For dogs who just need a bath, this stuff is great. It nourishes the skin and coat while cleaning, and it minimizes itching and dry skin. It’s also vegan, hypoallergenic, 99.8 percent natural, paraben- and sulfate- (SLS-) free and made without artificial colors, fragrances or chemical detergents. Plus, it smells wonderful.
5. Grooming Wipes
Between baths, use these biodegradable wipes to clean your dog’s skin and coat to remove dirt and minimize odor. They’re made with soothing coconut water and aloe vera, and they are also hypoallergenic, human grade and paraben-, sulfate- and alcohol-free.