How often should I bathe my dog?

Recently, we got this great question posted on our Facebook wall by a great pet store named Dolittles in Charleston, SC: We suggested dogs be bathed not more than every 2-3 weeks to reduce the potential of their bodies overproducing natural oils (a sometimes smelly proposition). A fan then posted a comment asking: “but doesn’t clean hair grow faster and stronger?” We hope there is a happy medium, and thought… our friends at earthbath might offer their opinion on this subject.

The simple answer, is, “it depends.” Sorry, it’s not so simple! Glibness aside, what we mean by this is: how often you bathe your dog depends on many individual factors such as what breed of dog you have, any specific skin sensitivities and allergies, coat type, your lifestyle and the climate you live in (humid & hot, hot & dry, windy & cold), what season it is, your dog’s activity level (which may vary based on climate, season, breed, and your lifestyle…), and of course, the kind of shampoo you use! You can be confident in bathing your dog much more frequently if you know the shampoo is chock full of nothing but the most gentle and pure ingredients, containing nothing that will irritate your dog’s skin.

Generally speaking, you will know that your active dog is in dire need of a bath when he is covered in mud from rolling around the yard, matted with muck from the other slobbery dogs at the dog park, or after summer adventures spent playing in a barn, romping through the fields, and/or swimming in a algae-covered lake. That said, if your dog is so active that he cavorts like this every day, you should probably give him a full bath every week to ten days, and in the interim, compromise with other in-between cleansing options like quick and easy wipes (which are gentle enough to use multiple times a day after every outing, especially on paws, and icky areas like goo-encrusted eyes and waxy ears) waterless foams (just rub on and towel off) and the all-important spritz to keep doggy smells at bay. Of course, earthbath makes it uber-easy for despairing owners of dirty dogs, with many different bath and cleansing options, all designed to work together to keep to keep both muck-loving dogs and human family members happy!

In contrast, a lap dog who would never deign to get her princess paws dirty, let alone roll around in the mud, needs a bath much less frequently, and could probably get by on a good brushing, some earthbath wipes and the occasional waterless foam bath.

Again, depending on where you live, how you live, how much time you have, or money, if you turn over grooming duties to someone else, and grooming needs your dog’s coat requires you could get away with bathing your dog every couple of months, or may need to undertake some combination of grooming (even if it’s just a swipe with an earthbath wipe and a brushing) each day.

Here are some more specific guidelines on answering this recurrent question…

1. What Kind of Coat Does Your Dog Wear?

  • Double or undercoat dogs (i.e. Siberian Huskies, Pekingese, Chow Chows), should have a bath once every 2 to 6 weeks (depending on activity level and how dirty they get); though they should be brushed weekly, at least, to prevent mats and “hot spots” (areas of moisture trapped in their undercoat) which can become quite painful and infected.
  • Silky long coat (ie. Shih Tzus, Yorkies, Lhasa Apsos), should bathe once every 3 to 6 weeks, but lavish brushing love on these divas daily!
  • Non-shedding curly coat (ie. Poodles), bathe ’em once every 6 to 8 weeks
  • Smooth, short coat (ie. Chihuahua, Boston Terrier), bathe no more than once every couple of months or only when the dog is noticeably dirty: These dogs have more sensitive skin, due to their short coats. Frequent baths will wash away the protective waterproofing oils produced by the skin.
  • Wiry/Coarse coat (ie. Schnauzers and most terriers), bathe once every 4 to 6 weeks, though these breeds can often develop dry skin and skin sensitivities.

Of course, and we can’t stress this enough, the best way to keep your dog’s coat shiny and healthy, with no skin irritations including itchies, hot spots, and dandruff, is to feed them a very high quality grain-free diet high in natural proteins, and bathe with pure, gentle soap-free, pH balanced earthbath products, where we live (and bathe) by the motto: “People-Tested & Pet Approved.”

If you’re bathing frequently, consider what you’re bathing with. If you’re using a cheap sulfate-laden shampoo, rife with harsh and unnatural ingredients including phthalates, parabens (oil based), and artificial colors and fragrances, you’ll end up with more problems than a dirty dog, and will end up spending more money to treat the ensuing problems than you would have at the outset on a better quality shampoo.

2. It’s A Dog’s Life…

Mud-Lovers: If your dog is never as happy as when he’s just jumped head first into a mud-puddle (like this one), and loves to roll around in the mud every chance he gets, you may have to bathe him every time he does (unless you enjoy mud-adorned furniture and floors). Assuming he’s not getting daily mud baths, you can just brush out small amounts of dry dirt in his fur. In between full baths, our grooming foams are great for removing excess oil and grime in the coat but if you’re dog is pretty filthy, into the tub he should go! If your dog lives in a perpetually wet environment (like, say, the great but soggy Pacific Northwest in winter), and as a result, gets muddy almost every time he goes out, the best shampoo is one that is completely hypoallergenic and ultra-mild, such as earthbath’s Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo or earthbath Clear Advantages. Any old shampoo (including most human shampoos) will completely strip away his natural oils in no time. All of earthbath shampoos are soap-free, hypo-allergenic, and pH-balanced to clean gently, thoroughly, and safely. Even the most sensitive skin will not be affected because earthbath uses only mild, safe, non-irritants.

Swimmers: If your dog is a water-loving breed like a Newfoundland, Lab, or Water Retriever, you’ll have to give him a bath after almost every swim to wash out the chlorine (from the pool) or the salt water (from the ocean), though you could probably get away with some rinse-only cycles in between full baths.  Most important for these dogs is a good conditioner like our Natural Crème Rinse & Conditioner to retain the natural oils in his lustrous coat since all of that water play is robbing his skin of protective oils, in addition to the frequent baths.

Daily Walkers: For “normal” dogs that just go outside to relieve themselves and exercise on a brief daily walk, keep the box of earthbath wipes by the door, (and in the car while we’re at it) in whatever “flavor” is your fave, to make sure he doesn’t track the street (or the neighbor’s dog’s poo) all over your brand new Oriental rug.

3. Climate: One Hot Dog Please! (Hold the mustard)

All dogs require more baths during the summer: after all, it’s the season of tick and flea infestation (wonderful), not to mention increased oil production and generally more time spent outdoors playing.  Bathe weekly or every two weeks, depending on your (and your dog’s) preference, keeping those other water-free alternatives nearby.

4. Skin Allergies and Disorders

Some of our beloved furry friends have skin allergies and sensitivities that can make it difficult to get clean and remain simultaneously happy. (Puppies & kittens often fall into this category.) earthbath solved this dilemma by blending the finest natural ingredients into our mild, hypo-allergenic, tearless shampoo. It cleanses thoroughly and safely, and even the most sensitive skin will not be affected because we used only mild, safe, non-irritants. To be perfectly honest, we’ve heard from many people with problems that they see much better results with our shampoo than those (high priced, stinky) medicated dog shampoos sold at the vet’s office, but of course, we must stress the importance of consulting with your vet on any suspected health problem, including skin issues, and following your vet’s advice!

After all, maybe your dog is onto something…