Some dogs love them, some dogs hate them, but every dog needs frequent baths. How often? It depends! In general, most dogs need a bath at least once a month. Dogs with oily coats may need baths more often, and some dogs can go longer. If your dog rolled around in some garbage or got sprayed by a skunk, then they definitely need a good wash! Here’s how to tell when your dog needs a bath, and a few dog-washing tips to help you get the job done.

How Do You Know When Your Dog Needs a Bath?

The occasional bath helps keep your dog’s fur and skin healthy. It also helps them smell a little sweeter. If your pup’s “doggy smell” is getting a bit strong, it’s probably time for a bath. Even if they don’t smell dirty, regular baths wash away environmental toxins, like lawn fertilizers, that dogs might encounter during their daily walks. Baths are also a good time to do an extra-thorough check for things like ticks and fleas. 

How often your dog needs a bath depends on the length of their coat, how much time they spend outside, how often you groom them, and whether your dog has sensitive skin. Dogs with long hair don’t need baths as often as short-haired dogs do. Dogs that spend their time splashing through puddles or rolling around in the dust at the dog park may need baths more often than a dog who exercises on sidewalks and city streets. 

If you’re grooming your pet on a regular basis, they might not need as many baths. Regular brushing will help keep your dog’s skin healthy and remove debris. Dogs with oily skin or long hair can benefit from daily brushing, but for most dogs, once a week is fine. If your dog has sensitive skin, eczema, or skin allergies, consult your vet about the best bathing practices.

What Kind of Shampoo Is Safe for Dogs?

It’s important to choose a pet-friendly shampoo when you wash your dog. Using your own shampoo on your dog is not a good idea. Some soaps and shampoos have harsh ingredients that could irritate a dog’s skin and eyes, or even cause an allergic reaction. 

At the very least, it could make their skin dry and flaky. Dogs have a different skin pH than humans, and our shampoos are formulated for use on human skin. If you can’t find dog shampoo, then baby shampoo is the next best option. It’s a little gentler, and has milder ingredients that are usually safe for dogs. 

Dog-Washing Tips for Beginners

  1. Designate a few towels specifically for doggy bath time. Get set up with lots of towels, dog shampoo, and maybe a brush or nail trimmers. Consider keeping a few treats near the tub to reward your pet as you go.
  2. Move all your bath products out of reach. Your dog probably won’t try to eat your bar of soap, but dogs are curious creatures, so put your soap and shampoo away. 
  3. Get a “hair snare” or place steel wool in the bathtub or shower drain to catch the fur. Brush your dog’s fur out before their bath if you can. This will help prevent the hair from clogging your drain.
  4. Make sure your dog’s fur is fully soaked before you add shampoo. Start lathering at the neck, then work your way back to the tail and down to the toes. However, save washing behind the ears until the end. Wet ears are sure to give your dog the urge to shake. And try to avoid getting water inside of your dog’s ears—if you do, use a pet-safe ear cleaner after their bath.
  5. Rinse well and dry thoroughly. Make sure to get all the suds out, to prevent skin irritation. And get them as dry as you can to make them more comfortable.
  6. Give lots of praise and do something your dog loves after the bath. Your dog might need a little extra reassurance during the process, or a toy for comfort. When it’s all done, make sure to give them play time, a decompressing walk, or snuggles—whatever will make them happiest.
  7. Let a professional do the work for you! If your dog is resisting bath time, why not take them to a groomer? They’ll give your dog a bath, comb out their fur, and even trim their nails.

Veterinary Care for Dogs in Gilbert, Arizona

Just like dogs need frequent baths and grooming, they also need to have their teeth brushed on a regular basis. At Anasazi Animal Clinic, we offer a full range of veterinary services, including dental care. Every dog needs a dental exam once a year. If you live in Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, or the surrounding areas, we’d love to meet you and your pup. To make an appointment, please send us a message or give us a call at 480-497-0505 today. 


Photo by Hayffield L on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 5/16/2024.