April 08 2019

How often should I bathe my dog?  This is a common question for new dog owners and even some that have had dogs in their life for many years.

Here's a quick list concerning when to bathe your dog: 

  1. When your dog stinks (you will know)
  2. When they are obviously dirty or sweaty (think rolling in the mud at the lake)
  3. Before a hair trim (clean hair cuts best)
  4. Per instructions from your vet (to manage certain medical conditions)
  5. At least once every three months 

The simple rule to follow is to bathe your dog when they need a bath or at least once every 3 months.  Using a mild and gentle dog shampoo may allow you to bathe more than the once every other week but this shouldn’t be normal practice.  Obviously if you have been out hiking all day together and brambles cover his or her fur than bathing is obviously necessary.  Using your good sense of judgement is the best thing you can do, if they were bathed last week, rolled around in the mud but don’t stink and their fur still looks good, don’t bathe.

If you bathe your dog too often it can cause skin irritations and dryness because you are stripping the natural oils that their fur needs to grow healthy and thick.


puppy bath

With warmer weather sparking our ideas of fun activities to share outdoors with our dog, bathing can be one of them.  Below are some common questions that have been answered to help you get started.

One word of advice prior to beginning….

Any task worth doing is worth having fun while doing it!   If you can find a way to make it fun for yourself and your dog, they may eventually look forward to bath time!  For more ideas on how to make your dog look forward to bath time see this great article from Your Dog Advisor.

There are no set number of times per week when you should bathe your dog.  There are many factors that determine how often they are bathed such as fur length, breed and types of activities they happened to enjoy. 

If the length of the fur is on the longer or thicker side bathing your dog more often might be warranted since this type of fur can collect dirt and filth.   Breeds such as German Shepherds and Huskies would fit into this category.

For a dog with shorter hair like a Beagle you can bathe them less often.

Dogs that have slick and a more oil coat like a Basset Hound need baths more often compared to dogs like Great Pyrenees that need less baths to maintain their water-resistant fur.

Allergies or sensitive skin are reasons to bathe your dog less often.  Your dog’s veterinary doctor should be able to assist you in determining any medical issues that might require bathing more or less than what is usual.

Dogs that are less active or spend less time out of doors can generally get away with less baths, while that dog who hardly ever comes inside or gets a tremendous amount of exercise on a regular basis would be a candidate for more frequent bathing.

There are a few things that can be done to increase the beauty and cleanliness of your furry best friend that don’t require water and soap.  Brushing you dog daily to remove dirt from inside the fur can work wonders for making them feel clean as well as having a shiny healthy coat of fur.


Should I bathe my dog outside?

Yes, if you have the space to do so, you should bathe your dog outside in the summer, here is why.

Bathing your dog outside can be a very pleasurable experience for you both.  The outdoors stimulates their senses potentially minimizing any fussing or carrying on when having their bath.  The smells, the sights and sounds of nature, the fun activities you can plan before and after can create a whole morning or afternoon of enjoyment.   Everyone, especially dogs love to be outside in the summer and the warm sunny weather is a great environment for a bath. Our dogs like it much better than the crowded, air-conditioned bathroom. 

Bathing your dog outside also limits your stress as splashing water is not big deal and can actually be lots of fun.  Cleanup is a breeze and you will have more room to move about while cleaning your dog.

dog bath outdoors with family


What are the main tools I will need to give my dog an outdoor bath?

There are  basic items you will need when bathing your dog,

  • mild dog shampoo (or other for vet prescribed for certain medical conditions)
  • lukewarm water
  • a towel
  • brush or comb
  • cotton balls
  • matt
  • treats

 A mild dog shampoo is best here, dogs don’t need all the harsh chemical additives, perfumes and other stuff that might be found in other kinds of soap, it will only irritate their skin.  If you dog has a skin condition and your vet prescribed medicated shampoo be sure to discuss proper use and if you can also bathe your fur baby with a mild dog shampoo on other occasions. Here is a list of some common skin conditions on PetMd

A cotton towel is always the best kind to use, make sure it is big enough to thoroughly dry off your dog, or have multiple towels handy.

What you choose to bath them in is up to you, it could be as simple as a kiddie pool or as exquisite as an expensive dog bath system.

A brush or comb to run through their hair before you begin the bathing process is good to have on hand.  As are cotton balls for cleaning inside their ears gently, possibly a set of nail clippers and toothbrush if your dog tolerates those things at home. 

Having a mat for each of you will make the bath experience better for you both, preventing slipping and sliding from all the water.

Dog treats and a favorite toy will delight both you and your dog during the experience.   


What is the best dog shampoo for summer?

Earthbath organic dog shampoo is a winner across the board for a variety of reasons.   This gentle but effective dog shampoo is made of soothing oatmeal and aloe.  Recall the last time you or someone you knew got a rash?  You probably bathed with an oatmeal soap to sooth the itch and irritation. 

This product has a balanced pH level and doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals or soap which can be irritating to some dog’s skin and fur, but it efficiently removes odour and any grim that may accumulate in your dog’s fur.

This however isn’t the only shampoo out there that is effective at cleaning your dog’s fur, there is an assortment of other shampoos on the market as well that are gentle to use on your dog, inexpensive, and with great reviews.


How do I pick an outdoor tub for giving my dog a bath?

You begin by first considering a few things, such as the size of your pet.  This determines the size of your tub.  The size of your yard and the layout of where it will work best regarding size, shape and whether it is folding or portable.  The last item to consider is budget.  There are a large assortment of tubs and options available in a wide variety of price ranges.

A list of special feature options that you may want your dog bathtub to have is something to research.  Some include, wheels to move it around the yard, fold up and stores away, a drain hose to empty when finished, a fan nozzle or rubber mat, retaining straps, and a faucet adapter or shower head.

puppy bath

What are the steps to bathing my dog?

  • Select a level spot outside for your tub or pool.
  • Gather and setup all the supplies prior to beginning.
  • Brush your dog prior to bathing.
  • Use warm water, not too hot or too cold.
  • Clean as you would yourself, from top of the body to the bottom.
  • Cover their eyes with your hand, put cotton balls in their ears and rinse from top of head to tip of tail.
  • Quickly but gently towel dry.
  • Brush teeth and clip nails if performing this task. (this step can also be performed before the bath)

In Conclusion

To further your knowledge PetMd has a great article that lists some common mistakes we humans make when bathing our pet.

Bathing outdoors is a wonderful experience for you and your dog, the moments you share are memorable for you both.  By bathing outdoors, you delight all their senses, the smell of a nearby barbecue, the sight of a blue jay floating by, smell of fresh cut grass, the feel of the warm water on their fur and the taste of their favorite treats complete the experience.

here's a great video by Dr. Karen Becker

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