How Often Should I Wash My Dog? Know The Details Here

Just like humans, dogs need a wash to stay clean and healthy. Now, the question is, how often should I wash my dog? This is often asked by new dog owners who want to do everything right.

In my own experience, I have dogs that stink faster than others. I have also known dogs that have never been washed before and still smells pleasant, which is remarkable. If you want to learn more about washing a dog, keep on reading.

Why Washing Is Important For Your Dog

Proper washing of your dog and learning how often is significant for the health of your dog’s skin and coat. Your dog needs to be washed if you want to train him to enjoy it in the future. Washing your dog can also become a positive interaction between you and your canine friend as you strengthen your bond even further.

Obviously, washing your dog can help remove odors and dirt from his skin. While often not fathomed, washing can have significant health benefits for you. If you’re prone to allergies and respiratory problems, a clean dog can be the least of your concern.

Think of it this way - your dog’s coat can trap dirt, bacteria, and other allergens. If you leave your dog unwashed, you make yourself vulnerable to these harmful elements. This is the reason why you should wash your dog when he’s dirty and stinky.

So, How Often Should I Wash My Dog?

In general, dogs need to be washed about every three months. Unlike frequent brushing, you don’t need to wash the dog too often because you’ll strip the natural oils of your dog’s coat. As long as you use a soap-free or moisturizing shampoo, you can wash your dog more frequently as usual to prevent dried skin.

How often you wash your dog may also depend on several conditions, such as:

  • If Your Dog Stays Indoors
  • Breed Of Your Dog
  • Allergies In The Family
  • Activities Of Your Dog
  • Skin Conditions

While humans that absorb allergens through their mouths and nose, dogs draw in the allergens through the skin. If your dog has itchy skin, you need to wash your dog once a week. This is to wash away any allergens that penetrate deep into your dog’s skin, hence prevent skin itchiness.

In my experience, it’s more effective if you wash your dog before applying medications, like antihistamine or prednisone. For most dogs, the bath can alleviate the itching enough that you can skip the next dose of medication. The less frequent you administer medications, the fewer the side effects that your dog might experience.

For dogs with skin diseases, I suggest washing your dog every 1-2 days to control the problem. Do this regimen for 1-2 weeks or until the skin of your dog has fully healed. For maintenance, you can wash your dog 1-3 times weekly.


Selecting The Best Shampoo

You might hear other people say that frequent bathing is bad because it can dry out your dog’s skin or coat. This may be true of you use a dog shampoo made of harsh chemicals. However, if you use a certified organic shampoo formulated for frequent use, then over dried skin may be a thing of the past.

When selecting the best shampoo for your dog, look for something that’s gentle and specially formulated for dogs. You don’t want to be stingy and use your own shampoo instead. Remember that human shampoo has a different pH level, which might be too harsh for your dog.

Read the instructions on the label and be aware that some shampoos are not intended for all types of dogs. If your dog has itchy skin, try using an oatmeal shampoo. To kill the bacteria and fungi on your dog’s skin, look for chlorhexidine in the ingredients list. Look for a gentle shampoo containing pyrethrin or citrus oil when your dog is infested with fleas.

If you’re short on your budget, you can make your own dog shampoo. The good thing about this is you’ll be certain of the ingredients used and you can help save the environment. To learn how to make a homemade dog shampoo, watch this video.

Signs That Your Dog Isn’t Compatible With The Shampoo

Dogs can develop a negative reaction to the shampoo even if it’s specially formulated for dogs. The reaction may occur due to actual ingestion or skin-mediated. Your dog may have a skin reaction to the shampoo if he develops hives, itchy skin, or red patches.


If your dog has ingested the shampoo accidentally, he may show these several symptoms: drooling, reduced appetite, and vomiting. Once you notice any of these signs, wash your dog again with warm water alone. Contact your vet for further instructions.

Does Your Dog Need A Conditioner?

After washing your dog, it’s likely that you’ll have more water on your floor than ever. So yes, I hear you- why spend more time applying conditioner when you have shampooed your dog already?

While the shampoo can remove all the dirt from your dog’s coat and skin, you leave every hair open. This allows the oil to escape and attract unwanted contaminants, leaving your dog’s hair brittle and dry. Also, all the lathering, scrubbing, and brushing might damage the hair of your dog in the long run.


To repair such damage and restore elasticity, use a conditioner. This prevents the oils from leaving the hair and prevent the contaminants from entering. After each conditioner, your dog’s hair becomes healthier, stronger, and glossier. This is why I recommend that you use a conditioner after every shampoo.

Preparing Your Dog For His First Wash

Everything will go smoothly if you introduce your dog to the idea of washing before you actually do it. Gain the trust of your dog by touching his paws, holding his ears, and touching the opening of his mouth several times of the day. Each time your dog responds positively, give praises and treats.


Get your dog accustomed to the washing tools, like shampoo, conditioners, and brush. As your dog becomes more accepting of the items, reinforce positively with treats and praises. To prevent your dog from panicking with the sound of running water, let him get accustomed to it.

If you’re planning to use a dryer, introduce it first. I suggest that you use a pet dryer over a human blow dryer because it’s more gentle. You might want to ask someone to restrain your dog if you think that he’s going to be rough at his first wash.

Before Washing Your Dog

The first thing that you’ll need to do is brush your dog’s hair thoroughly to remove any mats and tangles, which would be too difficult to disentangle when his fur is wet. For stubborn mats, try snipping them with scissors. Be sure to do it carefully because you don’t want to nick your dog’s skin in the process.

In case of fox tails or ticks, remove them gently with tweezers. If your dog’s fur is tainted with paint, pine sap, or other sticky substance, try softening and removing it with petroleum jelly. You can also soak the affected are with mineral oil or vegetable oil for the whole day.


In my experience, I have used Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent and it works just fine in removing the sticky substance. If all else fails, you can trim away the affected area. Avoid using strong substances, such as concentrated detergent, paint stripper, and fabric conditioner because they can be toxic when ingested.

If you think that your dog might scratch your tub or the floor, trim and file your dog’s nails before bath. You might also get wet, so be sure to wear your old comfortable clothes. Select a suitable place for the bath, like a room with the closed door because your dog might try to escape.

For easy washing and rinsing, use a detachable shower spray nozzle. You can buy shower hose attachments at any home improvement stores. If you can’t find a shower spray nozzle, use a pitcher.

During The Washing Of Your Dog

Fill the bath tub with warm water to knee level. If you plan to leash your dog, put it on now. Place your dog in the tub gently without hurting his back. Spray his back and shoulders to get him accustomed to the water

Remember to use the spray on low and try to distance the spray nozzle about an inch away from your dog. This way, the water penetrates into your dog’s fur efficiently. Once your dog relaxes, start washing his head.


Avoid spraying water directly in your dog’s face. Instead, lift his face slightly so the water trickles down the back of this head. Use a washcloth, or your fingers to move the water away from his eyes and nose.

After you have applied the shampoo, lather up your dog’s body and massage the suds all the way down. What I do is I shampoo the body first, then move toward rear end and then the head. You may also begin with the head and neck to keep the fleas from transferring to the head.

What To Do After The Washing

Using your hands, squeeze the excess water from your dog’s fur, starting from the tail and paws. Wrap your dog with an absorbent towel. Rub him dry and if you like, you can use a pet dryer.


A pet dryer is preferred if your dog has a frizzy or long fur. When blow drying, never aim it at your dog’s face. Always use a low setting to prevent your dog from burning.

Final Thought

The answer to the question, “How often should I wash my dog?” is simple: It depends. Generally, you need to wash your dog every three months, but this may vary depending on several factors, such as your dog’s breed, skin conditions, and physical activities. To summarize, here are the guidelines:

    • Dog that stays indoors: once a week to once a month

    • Breed of your dog: soft-coated dogs - once a week

    Coarse-coated dogs - once every three months

    • If one of your family has allergies: once a week

    • Dog activities outdoors: wash every time your dog gets dirty or stinky

    • Skin conditions: 1-2 days for 1-2 weeks

Frequent washing is not a problem as long as you use a moisturizing or a soap-free shampoo. This kind of shampoo will help prevent over drying your dog’s skin and coat.


If you have questions, suggestions, or experiences in washing your dog, share them with us in the comments section. You can also share this wonderful article if you like it.

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