How often to bathe your dog will vary between each individual dog and their particular needs. Essentially, dogs should only be bathed when necessary.
Bathing is generally required when a dog has an unpleasant odour** or they’ve accumulated dirt/mud on their coat.
So if your dog smells normal (remembering that most dogs have a healthy dog smell which is not unpleasant) and they are not dirty, then bathing is probably not necessary at that stage.
If dogs are bathed too frequently this can dry out their skin and hair coat and may cause problems. Only bathing when it is necessary should help to prevent the skin drying out due to excessive bathing as the natural oils on the skin and coat won’t be stripped away too frequently.
Dogs with skin problems may require different bathing schedules as part of their treatment plan and your local vet can provide advice.
Other dogs who go swimming may require less bathing as this activity can function like a bath. Remember, if you do allow your dog to swim occasionally, supervise them at all times and stick to safe and shallow waters where your dog can always touch the ground.
** If you notice an unpleasant odour from your dog, this could be caused by rolling in something that smells unpleasant, however, if you can’t identify an external cause your dog should be checked by a vet to rule out any medical causes of an unpleasant smell such as skin or ear problems.
What Type of Shampoo to Use
Your local veterinary clinic can provide advice about the most suitable products for your pet dog. Choose a shampoo specifically designed for dogs. Dogs have sensitive skin and their skin pH is different to the pH of human skin so human shampoo products should not be used on dogs.
For dogs with healthy skin and coat, choose a mild and gentle hypoallergenic shampoo. For dogs with skin conditions your local vet can advise what type of shampoo or product to use to help manage or treat specific skin problems.
You can also try applying a mild and gentle hypoallergenic rinse-out conditioner after shampooing to help prevent dryness after shampooing.
Test patch a small amount of products first to make sure there is no reaction or irritation. If your dog seems irritated at all – talk to your vet and try a different product that doesn’t cause any irritation.
Where to Bathe Your Dog
Where to bathe your dog tends to vary depending on individual circumstances.
- For some dogs it can be easiest to bathe them outside in the backyard on the ground. This way, owners can avoid lifting, particularly medium to large-sized dogs. This can also be a good option for dogs who try to jump out of the tub.
- Some owners choose to use a garden hose set on low pressure. Always test the temperature of the hose water as in summer the water can be quite hot at first, so you’ll need to wait until it cools down before using it. If the weather’s cooler it may be necessary to use buckets filled with comfortable, warm water instead as the hose water may be too cold.
Bath tub/dog tub
- For other dogs a bathtub or a dog tub may be suitable. Observe your pet, if they seem upset you might like to try outdoor bathing instead.
- If you’re using a tub always directly supervise your dog and be present with them. Let the water run down the drain so the water doesn’t fill up the tub. This is important for safety reasons as dogs can drown.
- Using a hose/shower head attached to the tub is ideal or you may need to use containers/buckets of water and a ladle if you don’t have a hose/shower attachment. Test the water temperature to make sure it’s comfortable and warm ensuring it’s not too hot or cold so your dog is happy. It’s also advisable to use low flow and light water pressure only.
- Apply a non-slip mat to the floor of the tub to prevent any slipping or injury. This will also help your dog to feel more comfortable as dogs like to be on secure surfaces. You can also place a few non-slip mats next to the tub and around the bathroom to make the general area less slippery.
Professional bathing services
- If you need help bathing your dog, contact your local vet clinic, they usually provide bathing services and professional groomers will often work attached to vet clinics.