How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Bath time for GypsyIt’s summertime and the dogs are outside more often, enjoying the warm weather. There’s nothing like a sunny day for a Chihuahua and a romp in the yard along with a roll in something stinky. With all that fun and play, the result is bath time!

For our family, bathing our pets is not very traumatic. The retired show dogs are used to getting a quick bath in the deep kitchen sink. When they were going to several shows a month, I would bathe them often. Now, not so much. They really don’t get very soiled and they hardly ever smell, unless of course, they find something nasty in the yard. Nevertheless, I do like to keep their coats clean and soft.

So with the weather pleasant today, I prepared for a bath day and started wondering how often someone should bathe their dog. Are frequent baths bad for their skin? Are their hidden risks or expert guidelines to follow?

With a little digging, I found the answer was that it really depends on the dog – their lifestyle, how dirty they tend to get, and the owner’s personal preferences. Some canines are inside pets while others spend more time outside. And others may split time or have access to a backyard with lots of interesting and aromatic things to explore. Some breeds, especially long haired ones, tend to have a persistent doggy smell, but that may be personal opinion and I find that Chihuahuas seem to be quite sweet smelling most of the time.

Gypsy takes a bathAt a minimum, you really only need to bathe your pup a few times a year or as needed. But experts do suggest no more than once a week. A regular bath or grooming ritual does give you the opportunity to inspect their coat and especially skin in ways that you would not normally see things. It is also a good time to clean ears and eyes and check their teeth.

If you do bathe them more than once a month, I advise using a soap-free or moisturizing shampoo to prevent their skin from becoming dry. If possible, only use products designed especially for dogs. Avoid human shampoos or conditioners which can can be too harsh and cause irritation. However, according to Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, human shampoos are sometimes fine. “Veterinary dermatologists recommend Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo frequently for sensitive dogs,” she says. “It seems human shampoos are milder than in years past, even for humans.”

if you are looking for something aromatic, it’s smart to also take a look at the ingredients and stay away from shampoos with artificial fragrances and dyes. Instead, choose ones with natural fragrances like chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus, and citrus.

I prefer using the most mild of dog shampoos, like a puppy shampoo, and stick to all-natural products. To keep their coats soft, a shampoo should also be followed by a thorough rinse. Afterwards, I towel dry and then let them out on the sunny deck for an air dry, weather permitting.


It is important to keep their head and ears from being soaked. Some dogs will let you know right off the bat, that their face is a no-go zone. But other more timid pets, may let you have more of your way with them. I may use a nozzle or running water on their main bodies. But I ease up when it comes to their head and slow down as I wash around their eyes, mouth and inside the ears. And I especially do not lather those areas. Remember, soaps and shampoos, no matter how mild, can still cause irritation in vulnerable parts. Some people even suggest putting cotton balls just inside their ears to protect from moisture from getting into their ear canal. Some dogs are prone to secondary ear infections. When rinsing them off, make sure to run the water from front to back, picking up your dogs head slightly to avoid spillover into their eyes.

For our slightly bigger dogs, like Penny, a Chi rescue mix, I’ll lather her up outside on the deck on a nice hot day and rinse her with a bucket of warm water. She doesn’t mind at all. I like to work in a nice massage and give her a yummy treat afterwards. Always be gentle and try to make it a pleasant experience for the both of you.

If bath time is not fun for your dog, find a good groomer. I prefer to bathe my own dogs but if your dog is large or has a coat that requires more care, that might be your best option. Make sure your groomer is highly recommended.

So with summer here and dogs more active outside, some may require more bathing. It’s OK. Lather up and have fun!

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** 2018 UPDATE **
A devoted reader sent in this link to an article on “10 BEST Dog Dandruff Shampoo That Absolutely Works” from It’s worth a read because it also covers topics such as…

  • Why dogs get dandruff
  • What does dog dandruff look like
  • Dog dandruff symptoms
  • Easy Treatment And Remedy For Dandruff In Dogs
  • Ingredients in Dog Shampoos you should avoid
  • How Often Can You Use dog dandruff shampoo?
  • Can you use human shampoo on dogs (Head & Shoulders)
  • Is dog dandruff contagious to humans

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Best Shampoos for Dogs [petful]
Best Dog Shampoos for Any Occasion [petcarerx]
The right shampoo for your dog [cesarsway]
How often to bathe a dog [cesarsway]
What Not to Do During Your Dog’s Bath… [healthypets]
How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog? [petmd]
Ask A Vet: How Often Should I Bathe My Dog? [iheartdogs]


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