How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

Living in Central Oregon and owning a dog go hand in hand. Not only do we live in a beautiful part of the state, we also have access to outdoor adventures whenever we are in the need for some fresh air. Oftentimes people bring their dog along for outside activities and with the high desert being such a dry place to live, our dogs tend to get dirty quickly, especially if they are swimming, hiking and biking with us. One question we hear a lot is how often pet owners should bathe their dog, and so we wanted to not only share some of our insights, but we also want to give you a few useful tips for bathing your dog. The following information is general dog health, so you’ll want to ask your vet if you have questions about a specific breed of dog.

How often you should wash your dog depends on several factors, including her health, breed, coat, and activity level, as well as where these activities are taking place. Dogs who spend the day outside rolling around in things they shouldn’t are going to need a bath far more often than ones who spend most of their time on the couch.

Use Your Nose

One of the easiest and quickest tools you can use to decide if your dog needs a bath, is to give them a good sniff. If your dog’s smell is obvious when she enters a room, it’s time to get some soap and water on her body! Most dog owners are familiar with the way their pet smells on a day to day basis, so if you are noticing an unusual smell coming from your pet, give them a good scrub and see if that fixes the problem. If it doesn’t, it’s time to take them to your favorite veterinarian to rule out any illnesses that might be causing the bad smell.

Dirt, Mud, Water

Obviously, you’ll know if your dog has been rolling in mud or appears to be covered in dirt. Keep in mind you’ll want to bathe your dog if they have dirt or mud on their fur, because chances are the dirt has worked its way into the skin and if left for too long, that dirt can cause skin sensitivities and even infections. Swimming in lakes and rivers can also irritate their skin so give them a quick bath with warm water and soap if they’ve been swimming.

Bathing Tips

Remembering a few good tips can make a huge difference in you and your dog’s bathing experience. We suggest you start with washing her body first, then finish up with her head. Dogs have a natural tendency to shake their bodies when their head gets wet, so by waiting until the soap has been rinsed off the main part of their body, you’ll reduce the chances of soap and water getting all over you and the surrounding area. Plus, a lot of dogs don’t like their head getting wet, so save the head for the end of the bath, then they won’t be wiggling to get away the entire time. Finding the right bathing products for your dog can be tricky. Breeds that don’t have a propensity for skin infections might not need specialized shampoos, but certain breeds do have skin sensitivities so be sure you know what works and doesn’t work before you invest in dog hair products. Mild soap is a safe option and typically leaves little residue after a good rinse. Visit our Central Oregon animal clinic if you have questions about your breed of dog, the veterinarians can offer you breed information and help you determine if your dog has sensitive skin.

As always, please keep in mind ALL pets should be brushed or inspected on a frequent basis. This allows their caregiver to assess any changes in their coat or skin health, noting changes in hair texture, missing hair, the presence of parasites or if your pet has any skin masses. A bath is a great chance to do a thorough inspection because with the hair wet and lying down, you can see things that you may have overlooked. Any changes you see during these inspections should be mentioned to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Call us at Blue Sky Veterinarian Clinic if you’d like to make an appointment for your animal or visit us online at for more information on pet health.