How often should I bathe my dog? 5 tips for keeping your pooch feeling fresh

How often should I bathe my dog?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Have you found yourself wondering, "how often should I bathe my dog?" Whether you’re a new pet owner or not, knowing when it’s time for a shower isn’t always obvious.

Bathing your dog isn’t just about keeping them looking and smelling nice. Bath time is also a great bonding activity for you and your pet (once they’ve grown to love it), and a time when you can check their overall health by looking for any lumps, bumps, fleas, or other abnormalities in your dog.

Once you’ve bathed your dog, you may also want to clip their nails and brush their teeth too, so why not check out our round-up of the best dog grooming kit to give your pooch the full salon treatment.

Whatever four-legged friend you have, the answer to the question, "how often should I bathe my dog?" is really down to you and your dog’s needs, but to help you understand those needs a bit better, here’s our top tips for keeping your pooch feeling fresh.

How often should I bathe my dog?

The frequency you might need to bathe your pooch can depend on the breed of dog you have. For example, larger dogs with longer hair will naturally require more maintenance than those with shorter hair. 

Also, consider how active your dog is. Of course, if they’re always rolling around in the grass or jumping in swampy lakes then they’ll need bathing far more often than if you have a pooch who prefers to chill at home. 

The RSPCA recommend that you bathe your dog once every four weeks – it's important not to do so too frequently, as this can dry out the skin, and in the process cause skin disorders. Moreover, this process can interfere with existing skin and worming treatments.

Even so, there might be times when the question, 'how often should I bathe my dog?' becomes redundant, such as if your dog manages to get muddy, or is involved in some sort of accident that ends up with them getting mucky. Obviously you can't leave them muddy, so the only solution is to clean them up.

How to give your dog a bath

1. Choose the right dog shampoo

When you're wondering, "how often should I bathe my dog", it’s important to have the right products, and just like with washing your own hair, your dog needs a good shampoo too. Surprisingly, the world of dog shampoo is far more complex than one might think, so if you’re a new dog owner, it can be tricky to know where to begin.

It’s important to consider your dog’s breed and hair type, as this will determine the best shampoo for them. Some breeds have more sensitive skin than others, so it’s important to check the ingredients listed on the bottle before you buy. You can also get shampoos to treat fleas, mites and lice, should this be something you need to tackle.

Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up the best dog shampoo for a variety of dog types, to make preparing for bath time even easier.

2. Brush your dog’s hair thoroughly

Always remember to brush your dog’s hair before and after bathing them. All dogs shed their hair – some breeds more than others – and it’s best to get rid of any excess dead hair before shampooing. Brushing their hair will also get rid of any matting and tangles before washing, which will make it a much easier and more pleasant experience for both of you.

You should brush after washing your dog too, but make sure you have the right type of brush for their hair type. You can check out our round-up of the best dog brushes for more advice on combing your pooch’s mane.

How often should I bathe my dog?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Make sure the water temperature is just right

You wouldn’t like it if you were forced to have a cold shower, and the same goes for your dogs! When setting the temperature for the bath or shower, a lukewarm temperature is best. Too hot and you’ll scald their skin, too cold and they’ll no doubt splash and shake until you’re soaking wet too. Think of bathing your dog like you would a baby, and be careful not to get any water in their eyes, especially when using shampoo. Too cold, and you won't be wondering, 'how often should I bathe my dog?'; it'll be more like, 'Will they ever get in the bath again?'

4. Make it fun for your dog

Let’s face it, bath time probably isn’t your dog’s favorite thing in the world, so in order to make it hassle-free, it can be a good idea to make it fun for your dog. Involve them in every step, allowing them to become familiar with the products you use, the tools you use, and the area you’re bathing them in. You won't have to worry about how often should I bathe my dog before long.

Using treats is also a good way to reward good behavior and provide positive reinforcement to your dogs throughout the bathing process. Check out our article on how to train your dog with treats if they are really reluctant to get in the tub.  

5. Dry your dog’s mane

Leaving your dog with wet hair could give them a chill, and the last thing you want is them running around the house getting everything wet. Be sure to towel dry your pooch first, and then leave them to air dry. Or, if they have particularly long hair or you want to give them the salon treatment, you can always blow dry with a hairdryer. Again, be conscious of the temperature, and don’t blast them with hot air. As we mentioned previously, always brush out any knots or tangles before drying, and then voila, your pooch is good as new… until their next walkies, and the next time you'll be thinking, 'how often should I bathe my dog?'.

Sarah Butcher

Sarah is a freelance writer and marketer, covering a variety of topics from lifestyle and fitness to sustainability and travel. When she’s not writing for PetsRadar or other websites, she can be found looking after her pet chickens or relaxing with a cuppa and a cute doggo snoozing on her lap!