How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

And is there such a thing as too clean? 😶‍🌫️

dog covered in mud

Have you ever wondered how often you actually need to wash your dog? Is the sniff test reliable, or is there a better way to tell?

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Andrea Y. Tu, medical director of Behavior Vets NYC in New York City, to find out how often you should bathe your dog.

Factors that affect how often you should wash your dog


Having a bath once a month is good for most dogs, but some dogs need to be washed more often.

Here are the factors to consider when deciding how often you should give your dog a bath.

Lifestyle


If your dog spends a lot of time running around outside or rolling in the mud, he’ll probably need baths pretty frequently. But if he prefers to hang out with you watching TV, he can go a little longer between washes.

Skin conditions


Some dogs with skin conditions may need to be washed more frequently, especially if they’ve been prescribed a special shampoo for allergies or an infection.

“For some dogs who have dermatological conditions, they may need to be bathed as frequently as once a week to help their skin stay healthy and infection-free,” Dr. Tu told The Dodo.

Coat


Certain types of fur get dirty more easily, like long, soft or curly hair. Dogs with this type of fur are also more prone to matting, so they need to be groomed regularly.

Dogs with oily coats, such as Labs, also need to be washed more often — up to once a week — so oil doesn’t build up on their skin (just like you need to wash your face so it doesn’t get oily).

And hairless dogs need to be bathed about once a week because their skin doesn't have the protection that fur provides.

Smell


If your dog smells, it’s probably a good time for a bath.

“Many dogs can go by the sniff test — if you're smelling funky or you just had a big day in a muddy park, you probably could use a bathing,” Dr. Tu said.

Can you bathe a dog too much?


Even if you want to give your dog a bath every day to keep him squeaky clean, it’s actually not a good idea — there's such a thing as being too clean when it comes to dogs.

Bathing your dog too much can strip the oils from your dog’s coat, which can make it dull, dry and itchy.

If you’re not sure how much bathing is too much, talk to your vet.

According to Dr. Tu, “The best way to determine what is best for your pup's individual needs is to speak to your veterinarian, as she or he will be most familiar with your dog's specific needs and can provide a recommendation that is tailored to you.”

How to keep a dog clean between baths


If you have a dog who can go a little longer between washes, or if you just want your pup to smell fresh all the time, here are some ways to keep him clean in between baths.

  • Brush your dog regularly to remove anything in his coat.
  • Use a dry shampoo, dog perfume or conditioner to make your dog’s fur smell great. This refresher and conditioner spray earned The Dodo’s Paw of Approval, and you can get it from Rowan for $25.
  • Clean your dog’s bed, toys and collar (and anything else he uses or wears frequently).
  • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly (this is also super important to keep his mouth and teeth healthy).
  • Use pet wipes to give your pup a refresher. You can get these dog wipes that received The Dodo’s Paw of Approval from Amazon for $8.99.

And when bathing your pup, remember to use a shampoo made specifically for dogs. Never bathe your dog with human shampoo because it can be bad for his skin and even make him sick.

“If you luckily have a dog that has fairly normal skin, it is still a good rule of thumb to use products that are made just for dogs and to double-check any over-the-counter shampoos with your vet before using it,” Dr. Tu advised.

So be sure to bathe your pup regularly, and if he smells, it’s definitely time for a bath.