How and when to bath your dog

Dogs have very different types of coat, they experience multiple environments and live many different lifestyles, so the amount of baths appropriate for each dog varies somewhat.

Keeping your dog clean helps to keep it healthy and free from fungal and bacterial problems, but over-cleaning can be bad for their natural oils and can cause skin irritation too. It’s important to find a good balance for your dog.

How often should you bathe your dog?

Factors such as dog odour, skin conditions, type of coat and whether or not your dog enjoys swimming, rolling in grass or mud puddles will determine how frequently your dog will need a bath.

Working dogs who spend most of the year outdoors may require more frequent bathing than dogs who live predominantly indoors and don't get as dirty.

You can also try dry shampoo products to give your dog’s coat a freshen up. But again, you don’t want to overdo this and strip them of natural oils or irritate their skin.

General rules:

  • If your dog’s odour doesn’t bother you, their fur isn’t visibly dirty or their lack of bathing doesn’t lead to health issues, then there is no imminent need for dogs to take a bath
  • However, bathing once a month is a good general rule for most dogs
  • Avoid bathing more than necessary
  • Remember that some shampoos are irritants if used too often, check what suits your dog

How should you bathe your dog?

  1. Be prepared. Set up everything you need in the bathing space before bringing your dog into the room. This will minimise struggle and make the process much smoother.
  2. Brush your dog before the bath. Getting any knots out of the fur will help to ensure your dog’s fur doesn’t hold excess water and irritate the skin afterwards.
  3. Check the temperature. You want to use lukewarm water for most breeds, or cooler water for large breeds, especially in summer months.
  4. Avoid getting water in their ears. This can cause discomfort and ear infections further down the line.
  5. Keep your pet calm. Talk in positive tones and praise them for calm behaviour.
  6. Use dog shampoo rather than human shampoo. This is better for dog’s skin if it has been designed specifically for a dog.
  7. Rinse well. Any shampoo left in the fur can irritate the skin. Remember that skin irritation can be caused especially if the skin hasn’t been dried properly or harsh soaps have been used.
  8. Towel dry and then air dry. Human hair dryers are too hot for dogs and the sound can make them skittish. Plus, lower drying temperatures won’t cause itching or dandruff.
  9. Reward your dog. Dogs often get bursts of energy after baths and want to play tug of war or run around, it helps them dry off and make sure you praise them for doing a great job.

These tips will help ensure your dog has a great amount of baths that leave them feeling happy and healthy.