How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

Posted by Max Martinson on

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

Washing the dog is one of those things many of us aren’t totally sure about. Does it depend on breed, size, and coat?

Does it just depend on how active and dirty your dog gets as the week goes on? Is it one of those things you just do when “it’s about that time?”

There are a number of important things to consider, and the fact is that some dogs require a lot more cleaning effort than others. So, without further adieu, let’s find a healthy schedule you can follow when it comes to washing your dog.

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

The reality is that there are no clear rules on how often to wash a dog; frequency of bathing depends on breed, fur, and even the types of activities you and your dog do together.

If you’ve been searching for an answer to this question for your dog but are struggling to find one, here’s a ground rule: if your dog spends most of his or her time indoors and has short hair, veterinarians say you should bathe them at least every 60 to 90 days.

That’s the bare minimum, though. Alternatively, excessive washing can actually be damaging for dogs, especially long haired breeds. Washing too often can strip dog coats of natural oils that insulate, moisturize, and protect the skin.

Washing every few days, for example, would likely strip your dog’s fur of the oils it needs. But where does that leave us? Most dogs fall somewhere between the categories described above.

For more specificity, we’ve got to look at the key factors below.

1. Indoor Dogs

If your dog is healthy and spends most of their time indoors, you’re in luck. Indoor dogs don’t get particularly dirty because their outside time is monitored. Dogs who’s outdoor time is spent on walks with owners, for example, don’t have as freedom to roll around in the mud.

Dogs who spend their days indoors should be bathed every 1-2 months.

That frequency is acceptable if there aren’t any additional factors. Odds are that one or two factors in your dog’s life that make frequent bathing more important.

The following factors will increase bathing frequency:

  • Extended walks, particularly in the heat
  • Excess shedding
  • Strong body odor
  • Winter walks (salt, dirt, snow)
Dog helping another dog take a bath

If your dog has a unique makeup that makes them a little smellier or more prone to shedding, more bathing and groomin becomes necessary. More importantly, your dog’s walking environment and schedule make a big impact on how dirty they become.

Some dogs require more exercise than others, and those dogs typically need a little more washing. Sweat and debris start to build up in the coat or the folds of your dog’s skin.

If you’re having a particularly active summer, try washing your dog every couple of weeks rather than every couple of months. Further, make sure to wash soon after excursions to the lake, muddy walks on trails, or other dirty activities.

2. Outdoor Dogs

How do you know how often to bathe a dog that spends its time primarily out doors? There are a few factors, but the general rule is that you should bathe your dog every 2-4 weeks.

The changing of seasons will dictate that frequency as well. Winter and spring will likely be a lot dirtier and muddier. That means more frequent bathing.

It becomes more important to check and lightly wash your dog’s paws in winter and spring. Regular paw care is essential year-round, but the presence of mud, foreign objects, and salt make November through May a little more dangerous.

If you’re curious about paw care, read out guide on how to take care of your dog’s paws.

An important note with outdoor dogs: just because dogs look relatively clean doesn’t always mean they actually are. If your dog is going out regularly and playing around in the snow or water, ramp up the bathing frequency.

Dirt and bacteria can linger in your dogs paws or in the folds of their ears, legs, and hips. This can even be true when the majority of their coat looks squeaky clean.

What Kind of Shampoo Do You Need?

If your dog is dealing with skin issues (dryness, sores, excess itching, dandruff), look for a shampoo that can moisturize your dog’s skin. If your dog has difficulty with hot spots or itching, it might be beneficial to try a moisturizing CBD shampoo on dogs.

The various ingredients in these shampoos, including CBD, may topically ease the discomfort that causes itching. Also, look for ingredients such as aloe, provitamin B5, avocado oil, and oatmeal extract.

It's also important that the product has a pH balance suitable for dogs. 

Humans have a pH balance of roughly 5.5, whereas dogs have one of 6.2. to 7.4. This means humans have a more acidic pH, and using an acidic skin product on dogs can disrupt their acid mantle, leaving them more vulnerable to bacteria and other ailments. 

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

Most importantly, do not use scented shampoos or shampoos designed for humans. These products can make canine skin conditions worse due to the chemicals they contain.

Regardless of the 

Do You Need to Wash Your Dog?

Let’s address this question — yes.

It’s important to bathe your dog regardless of the dog you have. In special cases, you might not have to bathe your dog more frequently than 3 or 4 times per year.

The average bathing frequency for most dogs is closer to once every 3 or 4 weeks. That said, some dogs require fewer baths at different times of year, and some owners might need to wash their dogs more frequently to mitigate allergies.

In all cases, though, dogs should be bathed with some regularity.

Still Not Sure? Here’s Your Answer:

Still wondering "how often should I bathe my dog?" There's a simple answer:

Ask your veterinarian.

Many of us have dogs who will do perefectly well with a bath every month or every other month. Some breeds are trickier to get a read on.

If you’re still not sure how often to bathe your dog, contact your veterinarian. Odds are that they will have a very clear and matter-of-fact answer that you can trust.

 

References:

1. https://www.veterinarians.org/how-often-to-bathe-a-dog/
2. https://www.petmd.com/dog/grooming/how-often-should-you-bathe-your-dog
3. https://www.caninejournal.com/how-often-to-bathe-a-dog/

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Author

Max is the Content Director for Lolahemp. He works closely with Lolahemp's veterinarians and writers, ensuring that our articles are factual, enjoyable, and useful to pet owners. Before Lolahemp, Max contributed articles to various pet health and wellness sites around the internet after graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. He is also the proud owner of a mischievous grey cat named Herbie.
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