How Often Does My Dog Need a Bath? - Rescue Dogs 101

How Often Does My Dog Need a Bath?

Baths can be a love or hate relationship for your dog. Some dogs love the water and will jump right into the bathtub, while some dogs will run at the first sight of the soap bottle and fight all the way to the bathtub!

So you ask, How Often Does My Dog Need a Bath? The short answer, your dog will never NEED a bath, other than for medical reasons. But you may want to bathe your dog after swimming in a lake, rolling in a mud puddle, or if he just stinks for obvious reasons.

In general, it’s recommended to give your dog a bath once a month, and no more than once a week. This is up to your preference, if your dog doesn’t generally get dirty, and doesn’t smell, you can go several months without a bath. During the summer we have been giving our dogs a bath every week after swimming in the lake at our dog park, simply because we don’t want them to smell like lake water.  Then in the winter, when they aren’t getting very dirty, we will go 4-6 weeks without bathing our dogs.

How often does my dog need a bath?

A Note About Dog Breeds and Different Dog Coats

So we all know every dog is different. But certain breeds may require more frequent baths, dogs that have very oily skin. Other dogs need to keep their natural oils to protect their skin. Daily brushing for long hair dogs helps keep their coats clean and healthy and will help relieve the need for frequent baths. When in doubt, ask your vet for her opinion.

A Love or Hate Relationship

Some dogs love the water and will jump right into the bathtub… if you have a dog that loves the bath, consider yourself lucky!

Some dogs will run at the first sight of the soap bottle and fight all the way to the bathtub. You can use high-value treats to convince your non-bath-loving dog that the bath is not so bad. Bring in a bag of treats and offer a treat every few minutes to get your dogs mind off the terror of the bath.

Our yellow lab, Bear, that LOVES the water and taking baths. Bear will even run up the stairs to the bathroom and jump into the tub! Then we have Ginger, our German Shepherd mutt, that loves to go swimming but hates baths! We have to drag or even carry her into the bathtub. Not even treats will amuse her when it comes to bath time.

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Choosing the Perfect Dog Shampoo

There are hundreds of choices of shampoos available on the market, so you may wonder which one to buy for your dog.

First off, make sure to choose a shampoo that is specifically designed and formulated for dogs. DO NOT use baby shampoo or anything other than something that is made for dogs.

Avoid dog shampoos that have artificial fragrances, as they can be harmful to your dog’s skin, and trust me, your dog does not want to smell like flowers! Ever notice that your dog rolls around in the grass after a bath? They do this to try and get the clean smell off their bodies! So choosing a little to no fragrance soap is ideal.

My favorite shampoo right now is an oatmeal shampoo, by Wahl. Oatmeal is a natural conditioner and this particular shampoo lathers nicely and is easy to rinse out.

We have also used Jax and Daisy shampoo and lotion on our dog Ginger when she was battling her allergies. We’ve since eliminated certain foods which relieve her itching considerably. But if your dog itches a lot, this shampoo is awesome. It’s all natural and really works. We purchased the shampoo and lotion combination but honestly didn’t use the lotion all that much.

Preparing for a Bath

If your dog has long hair, brush him thoroughly before giving him a bath.

Gather everything you are going to need before taking your dog into the bathtub or outside to the hose.

  1. Dog specific shampoo
  2. Towels for you and your dog
  3. Treats to reward your dog for being good in the bath
  4. Leash to help control your dog from jumping out of the bath

How to Give Your Dog a Bath

  • Getting your dog into the bathtub or close enough to the hose may be a challenge for those with dogs that hate the bath, so lure your dog with treats to the bath. During the winter we use our bathtub, using a hand-held shower head so we can reach all over and under the dog’s body. In the summer when it’s warm outside, we use the outside hose.
  • Stay calm, if you get upset or stressed, your dog will feed off of your energy and hate baths even more.
  • Make bath time fun with treats, a ton of praise and love.
  • Get his entire body/coat wet with water, saving the face for last.
  • Using dog shampoo, apply soap and lather, starting at the neck, working your way down his back, legs and belly area.
  • Wash his face last, as most dogs do not like water in their face.
  • Avoid getting water inside your dog’s ears. If water does get inside the ears, dry them out after his bath with cotton balls.
  • This is the perfect time to be inspecting your dog for ticks, fleas, and abnormalities on his body.
  • Rinse and rinse again. It is very important to get all of the soap out of his coat. If soap is left it could cause irritation to your dog’s skin.
  • When done rinsing, let your dog shake inside the tub. I usually hold up a towel to contain some of the water spraying the entire bathroom… not that this always works, but it helps a little. I just recently started training my dogs to shake on command, I think they’re started to pick it up.
  • Towel dry your dog as much as you can and then let him air-dry the rest of the way. Do not use a human blow dryer on your dog, it can get too hot and burn his skin. They do make blow dryers specifically for dogs.

For those that aren’t the do-it-yourself type, taking your dog to a groomer is a great option.

Get referrals from friends, family, and neighbors. Not all groomers are created equal. Make sure to do some research and find a groomer that is patient and qualified to take care of your dog the way you would.

P.S. If you haven’t downloaded our free Dog Health Record printable yet do it NOW!

P.S.S. I hope I answered your question, How Often Does My Dog Need a Bath.So how often do you bath your dog? Does he enjoy the bath or fight you all the way through? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your story.

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About the Author Debi@RescueDogs101

Debi McKee is a dog mom, volunteer foster dog home, and lifetime dog lover. Debi’s mission is to guide you through every step of your dog journey, from adopting the perfect dog for you and your family, to training your dog and keeping your dog happy and healthy. Sign up for our free resource library of must-have resources, containing valuable downloads to help you in your dog journey.

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