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Published: Jan 22, 2024 5 min read

Bathing your dog is one step in the grooming process that’s necessary to keep your dog’s coat and skin healthy. However, washing your dog too often can be counterproductive and cause skin irritation.

If you want to learn how to give your pooch the best bathing schedule based on their hair type and lifestyle, keep reading.

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How often should I bathe my dog?

Dogs generally need a bath once every one to three months. At most, dogs typically shouldn’t be bathed with shampoo more than once every two weeks, regardless of their hair type, according to Dr. Jamie Whittenburg (DVM), veterinarian director at Senior Tail Waggers. However, your dog's bathing needs can vary.

In addition to baths, your dog’s grooming routine may include brushing their hair, trimming their nails and cleaning their ears. Regular brushing between baths can help reduce shedding by removing loose hair and dander.

Factors that affect dog bathing frequency

The most important factors that determine how often your dog needs a bath are your dog’s lifestyle and activity level. Consider the following factors when deciding how often to bathe your dog:

  • Lifestyle: Active dogs may need baths more often, especially if they are frequently outside. Playing or rolling in the grass, for example, could prompt more bathing.
  • Breed and coat: Long-haired dog breeds require more maintenance than short-haired dogs. Additionally, dogs with double coats (such as Siberian huskies or Labrador retrievers) may need more grooming during their shedding season to limit loose hair in your home.
  • Skin health: Dogs with specific skin problems or allergies may need weekly baths with a medicated shampoo. Consult your vet for the best bathing schedule and products for your dog’s sensitive skin.
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What happens if I bathe my dog too much?

Overbathing your dog can strip the natural oils from their hair and skin causing dryness. Keep an eye on your dog’s skin. According to Dr. Whittenburg, some signs of bathing too much include itching, discomfort, a dull coat and skin flaking.

If you find your dog gets dirty more often, you can rinse them with water in between shampoo baths. Additionally, you can wipe down their paws as needed.

Why is dog bathing important?

Bathing your dog is important to keep their hair and skin clean and healthy. Most obviously, unbathed dogs will be dirty and smelly (what some people call the “dog smell”). But not bathing them can also lead to skin irritation and infections.

Good hygiene habits can also help you identify health issues. “A healthy dog with healthy skin and coat should not have a foul odor. Skin infections, matted hair, feces and dirt in the coat, and some metabolic disorders can lead to a smelly dog. If your dog has a foul odor and a bath does not help, they definitely need to be seen by their veterinarian,” says Dr. Whittenburg.

If your dog has long hair, keeping their coat free from tangles and mats is especially important. Not only is matted hair uncomfortable for your dog, but it can also trap insects — such as fleas and ticks — and feces.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), severe matting can even affect your dog’s blood circulation if the hair is too tightly wound up.

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How often should you bathe your dog FAQs

Is it OK to bathe a dog once a week?

Bathing your dog once weekly may be acceptable, depending on their skin, coat and lifestyle. Some dogs with skin health conditions require weekly bathing with medicated shampoos. Likewise, dogs who are frequently outside or have oily coats may get dirty and need baths more often.

However, bathing with soap or shampoo is recommended only once every two weeks at most. If your dog needs baths more often, consider rinsing them with water between their shampoo washes..

If you are bathing your dog weekly, keep an eye on your dog’s skin to make sure it isn’t getting too dry or irritated. Additionally, you can discuss your dog’s bathing routine with your veterinarian to determine if you’re bathing them too often.

What happens if you don’t bathe a dog?

Not bathing your dog can lead to bad odor, oil buildup and skin irritation. Bathing your dog when needed can keep your dog clean and healthy.

When should I take my dog to the groomer?

While many people choose to bathe their dogs at home, you can also take them to the groomer for professional services. A dog groomer may be helpful if your dog doesn’t like baths or has a coat that is difficult to groom (such as long or curly hair that often gets matted and tangled). The groomer can also cut your dog’s hair and trim their nails.

Do dogs like baths?

Some dogs enjoy bath time, while others hate it. It can depend on their preferences and past trauma. However, once the bath is done, your dog may feel more comfortable with a clean coat.

Summary of Money’s guide to how often you should bathe your dog

Dogs typically need a bath once every one to three months, and Dr. Whittenburg recommends not giving your dog a bath with dog shampoo more than once every two weeks. Over bathing your furry friend can lead to dry skin and hair.

While dogs with short coats sometimes don’t need bathing and grooming as often as those with long coats, the main factor that determines the appropriate bathing frequency is their lifestyle and activity level. Additionally, some dogs with allergies may need more frequent baths with medicated shampoos if prescribed by their veterinarian.