How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

Hint: It's not as often as you should shower.

Even people make showering mistakes, so how do dog owners know how to wash their pup properly? Here’s what a vet says about how often to wash your dog—and tips on doing so without stress.

How often should you wash your dog?

Dogs who spend time indoors and outdoors need baths every two weeks

Most dogs don’t require bathing more than every two weeks, according to Mark D. Freeman, DVM, an Assistant Professor at VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine.”If they live in a clean environment, sometimes that number is even less,” Dr. Freeman says. That’s partly why the ASPCA thinks you can get away with bathing your dog as infrequently as once every three months. Dogs that spend time both indoors and outdoors, however, are more likely to need bathing every two weeks because they’re simply more likely to get dirty.

Dogs who live strictly outdoors don’t need baths as often as you think

Pups who stay outdoors can have a bath as infrequently as once every two months during the warmer months of the year, says Dr. Freeman. “While strictly outdoor dogs probably don’t ever need to be bathed, a bath is a great opportunity for an owner to handle every part of the dog’s body, which can sometimes reveal health issues or concerns such as lumps or bumps and ear infections,” says Dr. Freeman.

One of the 26 secrets that pet groomers wish they could tell you is that you should research how to care for a particular dog breed’s coat. So how often should you wash your dog is a question that their breed might be able to answer.

It’s possible to over-bathe your dog

Too much of a good thing is still bad, even in the case of washing your pup. According to Dr. Freeman, it’s important to recognize that over-bathing strips essential oils from the skin and fur and results in dry, itchy skin, and a dull, dry hair coat, too. In fact, it’s one of the things your dog wishes you knew. If you do find it necessary to bathe your dog more than every two weeks, Dr. Freeman recommends using a moisturizing shampoo, or moisturizing conditioner following the bath, to help replace the oils removed from the skin and hair coat.

Here are some tips on how to wash your dog

Make sure that you rinse all of the soap off the dog’s skin. If the soap does dry on the skin, it could irritate and result in inflammation, rashes, hair loss, and other skin lesions, according to Dr. Freeman. Soap-free shampoos, like this one, help avoid this particular problem. Make sure that you rinse the pup with luke-warm water to reduce the amount of itching caused by the bath itself. Using a hose or a shower-head type sprinkler is ideal. Plus, don’t forget to wash in their ears. Read our guide on how to clean dog ears.

Pet owners always joke that cats hate water, but dogs might not be so fond of water and bath time, either. To make bathing more pleasant, utilize positive rewards like treats, scratching favorite spots, and playing with a favorite toy during bath time, Dr. Freeman suggests.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Popular Videos

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest who previously wrote for INSIDER, the Food Network, POPSUGAR, Well + Good, Westchester Magazine, and more. There's also a 90 percent chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she's not writing away about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.