How often should I bathe my dog?

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How often should you bathe your dog? Some dog owners follow a strict regimen, bathing and grooming their pets once a week. For others (such as me), it’s bathtime when the dog’s natural perfume (eau de dog) begins to permeate the house.

The truth is, depending on their breed, you may not need to bathe them so frequently. Some shorthair breeds, for example, don’t have much fur so they might do with a weekly rub down with a hound glove, and a full bath just once a month. Frequent bathing can strip the dog’s natural oils. These oils are a cause of the doggy smell, but they also help protect the skin. Bathe him too often and your dog may develop chronically itchy, dry skin, causing him to scratch himself frequently.

Of course, if your pooch just loves the great outdoors, rolling and playing in the dirt and mud, then you’ll need to bathe him more often. This can be fine as long as you’re not using dish soap or a product designed for humans. Veterinary dermatologists say that a mild hypoallergenic soap that’s formulated for veterinary use is all you need. “Formulated for veterinary use” means a product that’s designed to work with a dog’s body chemistry, which is different than the chemistry of a human’s skin and hair. While dish soap or your favorite shampoo might well strip away the dirt (and, more importantly, the odor) from your pet’s coat, it will also strip natural oils from their fur and may irritate their skin.

Experts say it’s safe to bathe your dog with veterinary shampoo once a week. On the other hand, if the veterinary shampoo you’re using contains medication or insecticide, follow your veterinarian’s instructions. Prescription shampoos treat specific problems and might require bathing more or less often than you usually do.

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One last tip—make sure to comb your dog’s coat before bathing. Because wet fur mats more than dry fur, a wet tangled coat is harder to brush out and will take longer to dry. You’ll save time and also save your pet from an uncomfortable brushing.

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