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How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Rachel Keane
  • Rachel Keane

  • RCVS: 6365059


There is no one right answer to this question – it depends on several factors, including their breed, coat and skin type, as well as how mucky they get! Most dogs do not normally need to be bathed very often, once every few months is sufficient for many dogs, and frequent baths can strip the skin and coat of natural oils, leading to dry skin problems. Certain skin conditions mean that your dog should be bathed more or less frequently, so it is always a good idea to follow your vet’s advice in these cases. 

In this article, we will share all of the information you need in order to keep your dog looking its best, whilst also remaining safe and free of any potential skin conditions. There are some common misconceptions surrounding bathing dogs, and some people go way too far, so much so that they are putting their dogs at risk. 

How to bathe a dog

When you are going to bathe your dog, knowing how to do so correctly can mean the difference between not just a clean or dirty dog, but also a clean or dirty house. Some dogs absolutely detest water and will do just about anything to stay out of it. Whilst some may love it, others will equally hate it. By following our guide, you will be able to bathe both dogs that love water, and dogs that don’t. 

  • Firstly, you should make sure that your dog is relaxed. A relaxed dog is more likely to be open to being bathed. 
  • You should then brush your dog using a dog grooming brush. This will remove any loose fur and will get through any knots that may be on your dog's coat.
  • Then, fill a bath or a container large enough to fit your dog in with lukewarm water. Never use water that is too hot or too cold. 
  • Gently place your dog in the water, if they strongly resist, take them away and allow them to calm down.
  • When you get your dog in the water, you may need to hold them still to stop them from getting out. Always be gentle, and never force your dog.
  • Use a cup or a jug to slowly pour the water onto your dog's fur, avoiding the eyes. Then, massage in special dog shampoo.
  • Allow the shampoo to sit in your dog's coat for a moment before rinsing with clean lukewarm water. 

How do I dry my dog

Once you have bathed your dog, you will then need to dry them. If you do not dry your dog then it may become cold and could be at risk of hypothermia. To dry your dog, you simply need to get a towel and rub your dog dry. Many dogs will actually enjoy this process, and will most enjoy their heads being rubbed. For some breeds of dogs, the style will be to use a hair dryer when drying. When you are using a hair dryer, use it on its lowest power setting and at its lowest temperature. To attain some dog hairstyles, such as the pomeranian fluffy look, you may need to visit a dog groomer. 

When to bathe your dog

You should know when to bathe your dog. Sometimes, the smell will give itself away, other times, your dog will be so dirty that you simply must give them a bath. Some dogs will love nothing more than jumping head first into a pile of mud, and when you get them home, you will know you need to give them a bath. 

Some breeds will need bathing more often than others, and it all depends on their fur. Some breeds with longer fur, such as spaniels, will need bathing more often than a breed with short hair, such as a whippet. 

Can you use human shampoo on dogs?

No, simply put, you should only use dog shampoo on dogs. Shampoo designed for humans may lead to skin irritation for a dog. Dog shampoo has been especially designed to be sensitive on a dog's skin, and should be the only shampoo that you use when you bathe your dog.

How to give a dog a bath that hates baths

As mentioned, some dogs will absolutely hate baths. However, just because they hate baths does not mean they do not need them. Often, dogs that hate water will like getting dirty, which is ironic. There are ways that you can clean your dirty dogs even if they do not like baths. The best way to do this is by giving them something else to focus on. Try holding a handful of treats in front of their nose whilst you bathe them, this will turn their attention away from the water, and onto the food. 

How to make your dog smell good without a bath

Sometimes, your dog may not need a bath, but it might smell a little pungent. Whilst a bath is a good way of changing your dog's scent, there are certainly ways that you can change how your dog smells without having to give them a bath. One of the best ways is by brushing them. Sometimes, dirt can sit in the fur of your dog, and this can lead to smells beginning to linger. By brushing this dirt out, the bad smells should go. 

How long after flea treatment before you can bath your dog?

When you give your dog flea treatment, be it on the skin or orally taken you are going to need to wait before giving your dog a bath. Flea treatments will condition the skin whilst killing any fleas that are living on the dogs skin. In order to give the treatment long enough to work, you should not give your dog a bath for at least 48 hours after administering the treatment. This will allow enough time for the medication to work correctly. 

Why does my dog go crazy after a bath?

You may notice that your dog may go a little hyper after a bath. You should not be concerned by this, as this is a completely normal reaction. The reason your dog may go crazy after a bath is because they are relieved that it is over, or that they are trying to dry themselves by rolling or rubbing against things. Do not be concerned if your dog seems a little excited after a bath, they are sure to calm down in no time. 


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