How often can you wash a dog?

As a groomer, the most common question every client asks is, “How often can you wash a dog?” Although the short answer is normally “Only when it’s dirty!” Read our professional dog bathing advice from Professional Certified Groomer, Niamh McElhinney.

How often you can wash a dog depends on:

  • Breed and age of dog
  • Condition of coat (long, silky, matted, curly, stinky etc)
  • Environment it’s kept in (indoor or outdoor dog)
  • Any skin allergies (parasites, dry, oily, flaky, dermatitis etc)

Dog Shampoo

Remember that the skin is largest organ of the body; therefore excess use of shampoos can lead to more serious issues. Unless your pet has a medical condition, were a veterinary shampoo may be prescribed with recommended regular usage to clear a skin disorder.

Depending on breed, gender, environment, and the anatomical size on the dog, the pH levels range from 5.5 to 7.5, tending toward a more alkaline concentration. Dog shampoos should be in the neutral range, around seven.  Therefore, if a shampoo that is formulated for human skin and is used on a dog, the dog’s acid mantle will be disrupted, creating an environment where bacteria, parasites, and viruses can run rampant.

So if your pet likes to roll around in the flowerbed and you have to resort to bathing one or more times a week, try using a soap free hypoallergenic shampoo instead.

Pre-Bath Routine Checks

Prior to bathing the dog, an all-over-body mini examination from nose tip to tail is required. This is quick and easy to perform and can effective in the early detection of health problem before they become more established. Here is a simple criteria to help identify any noticeable problems.

  • Clear
  • Weeping
  • Swollen
  • Inflamed
  • Clean
  • Smelly
  • Dirty
  • Hair in Ear Canal
  • Moist
  • Dry
  • Cracked
  • Glazed
  • Normal
  • Dry / Flaky skin
  • Inflamed / irritated
  • Lesions / crusting
  • Clean
  • Matted
  • Dry
  • Oily
  • Normal
  • Discoloured hair between pads
  • Cracked pads

Tips for Bathing your Dog at Home

  1. Do not bathe your dog too often because that will dry out the skin, deplete healthy oils from the coat and skin, and lead to scratching and irritation
  2. To keep your dog clean between baths, brush vigorously and regularly — preferably daily
  3. By using a dog cologne, it instantly deodorises and controls pet odours between baths
  4. Gather your supplies beforehand: shampoo, brushes, comb, washcloth and/or sponge, towels and cotton balls
  5. Put a cotton ball in each ear to keep water out. Make sure the cotton ball is large enough that it does not get caught in the ear canal
  6. Place a nonskid rubber mat in the basin or tub. This will prevent slipping and make the dog feel more secure
  7. If the dog is rather dirty, you can repeat the lathering and rinsing steps
  8. Mist dog’s coat with a detangler spray for easier combing after the bath. You can also apply a moisturiser
  9. If you plan to use a dryer, slowly introduce the dog to the dryer

Our Experts

Niamh McElhinney is a Connolly’s RED MILLS Nutritional Advisor, Professional Certified Groomer, Micro-Chipper, and Owner of K9 Millionhairs. She has o ...

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