Can you wash a dog too much?

Some people enjoy bathing their dogs, while others don’t. Probably because the dog doesn’t, and it ends up being a splashy mess with both of you wet and stressed.

However, as we’ve covered quite a bit on this blog, dogs must be washed regularly to keep their hair and skin in tip-top condition.

Once washed, your dog smells divine, and their fur is lovely, fluffy, and soft to the point where it can become an addiction to cleaning them. But can dogs be washed too much? The short answer is yes, they can.

You can wash a dog too much, to the point that it might become a health hazard for them. Many pet owners want to ensure their dogs are squeaky clean. Still, over-washing can lead to problems such as drying out the skin, irritating the skin, stripping natural oils, etc.

So, let’s dive into dog grooming and find out if your furry friend is getting too many baths.

How often should a dog be bathed?

The frequency of bathing your dog depends on its breed, coat type, and activity level. Generally, it’s recommended to bathe your dog every 4-8 weeks. However, some breeds may need to be cleaned more frequently, while others can go longer between baths.

For example, dogs with thick or long coats, such as Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds, may not need to be washed as often as dogs with short or thin coats, like Greyhounds or Chihuahuas. This is because their skins are better equipped to repel dirt and water.

Despite dogs being excellent at self-cleaning, they still need some intervention from time to time when they start to stink, or their fur looks malted and wiry. However, it’s essential to wash your dog sparingly.

With this in mind, dogs should be washed at least once every 3 months and no more than once a week. Owners who need to wash their dogs often because they are very outdoorsy and active should seek a natural dog shampoo free of allergens.

And to do that, use a gentle, moisturising shampoo that won’t dry out their skin. Always rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving any soap residue behind.

Ultimately, the frequency with which you should wash your dog will depend on various factors unique to your pet. If unsure, it’s always best to consult your vet or a professional groomer.

If you are worried, you can always wash a dog without shampoo.

Read More: How to freshen up your dog without shampoo or bath?

What happens if you bathe your dog too often?

During the pandemic, did you wash your hands a lot? And did your hands end up getting dry, cracked, and sore? This is the exact thing that could happen to your dog’s fur and skin if you wash them too regularly.

dog lying on his bed

1. Dry Skin

Even the softest dog shampoos have some detergents (unless you go oatmeal), which will dry out a dog’s skin. With frequent washes, the dog’s skin will be more than healthy enough to recover quickly and never have any problems.

A dog repeatedly scrubbed down will have skin constantly in recovery mode and never get a chance to repair before being rewashed.

This will lead to dry skin and dried-out fur, which can be uncomfortable. It can also cause cracks and sore spots, which they’ll try to lick, scratch, and worsen. 

2.  Health Issues

It can also irritate your dog’s skin. Even mild dog shampoos can be harsh if used too often, causing redness, inflammation, and itching. This can be especially problematic for dogs with sensitive skin or pre-existing skin conditions, such as allergies or hot spots.

Additionally, overwashing can make your dog susceptible to parasites and infections. This is because frequent washing can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and other microorganisms that live on your dog’s skin and help to keep it healthy.

3. Loss of natural oils

Every dog with fur (not all dogs do) has a layer of natural oils that keeps the skin moist and protected from external threats. They also give them their waterproofing quality.

A bath (see also our favourite portable dog showers) cleans away some of this oil with a wash, but it recovers quickly. Repeated washes that are too frequent may wipe away more oil than it can recover, reducing the fur’s effectiveness and leaving the skin vulnerable to the elements and external factors.

When is it okay to wash your dog more often?

While avoiding over-washing your dog is generally recommended, certain situations may require more frequent baths. 

It may be necessary if your dog has a medical condition that requires it. For example, your vet may recommend bathing them more often to help alleviate allergy and infection symptoms.

In these cases, following your vet’s instructions carefully and using a gentle, medicated shampoo that won’t irritate your dog’s skin is essential.

Another situation would be if your dog is very active and spends much time outdoors. Dogs who enjoy swimming, hiking, or rolling in the mud may need more frequent baths to stay clean and prevent skin irritations or infections.

However, even in these situations, avoiding over-washing your dog and using a gentle, moisturising shampoo that won’t strip its coat of natural oils is essential.

If you do need to wash your dog more frequently, there are a few tips to keep in mind to help minimise the risk of skin irritation and other problems.

  • Use a high-quality, dog-specific shampoo formulated to be gentle on their skin and coat. Avoid using human shampoo or any harsh product.
  • Rinse your dog thoroughly after shampooing to remove all the soap from its coat. Any leftover shampoo can dry out your dog’s skin and cause problems.
  • After washing your dog, dry them thoroughly with a towel or blow dryer on a low setting. Leaving your dog damp can increase the risk of skin infections and other problems.
  • Brushing your dog’s coat after bathing is also a good idea to help distribute natural oils and prevent matting.

How to bathe your dog properly?

5 of the Best Portable Dog Showers

Step 1: When bathing your dog, it’s important to use lukewarm water and shampoo specifically designed for dogs.

Step 2: Start wetting your dog, avoiding its head and ears. Apply the shampoo and work it into a lather, carefully avoiding getting it in their eyes and mouth.

Step 3: Rinse thoroughly and then apply conditioner if desired. Again, make sure to rinse thoroughly.

Step 4: When drying your dog, use a towel to pat them dry and then allow them to air dry or use a hair dryer on a low, relaxed setting.

1. How to get rid of smells from your dog?

To get rid of smells from your dog, regular grooming is vital. Brushing your dog’s coat regularly helps remove loose hair and dirt that can contribute to odours. You can use an odour-neutralizing spray designed for dogs for particularly stubborn odours.

I have a separate guide to help you if you still need clarification.

Read More: Do dogs really need dog shampoo? Which one is the best?

2. What’s the best time to give your dog a bath?

Generally, the best time of day to give your dog a bath depends on its temperament and lifestyle.

  • If they’re high-energy and active during the day, it may be best to bathe them in the morning, so they’re dry before going outside.
  • If your dog is more relaxed during the day, you may bathe them in the evening to allow them to rest after the bath.

Bathing your dog during the warmer parts of the day may help them dry faster. Ultimately, the best time of day to bathe your dog is the one that fits its routine and personality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I use human shampoo on my dog?

You should always use a shampoo specifically formulated for dogs. Human shampoos can be too harsh and irritating for their skin.

2. What if my dog has sensitive skin?

If your dog has sensitive skin, look for a dog shampoo formulated for sensitive skin or containing gentle, natural ingredients like oatmeal or aloe vera.

3. Can I use a hairdryer to dry my dog after a bath?

Generally, you can use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to dry your dog but keep it a safe distance away from their skin to avoid burning them. Alternatively, you can use a towel to dry them off.

4. What are some signs of skin irritation in dogs?

Some signs of skin irritation in dogs include excessive scratching, biting, or licking of the skin, redness, swelling, flakiness, or a rash. If these symptoms persist or worsen, it is essential to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

5. How can you soothe a dog’s itchy skin after a bath?

To soothe a dog’s itchy skin after a bath, use a natural anti-itch spray, apply a soothing balm or oil to affected areas, use a humidifier to increase moisture in the air, or provide your dog with an oatmeal or aloe vera bath.

It’s essential to avoid using products containing alcohol, fragrances, or other harsh chemicals that may further irritate the skin.


  • Jonathan Spaeth

    I'm a professional business person who loves dogs. I'm motivated by a passion for dogs and a deep understanding of pet care and behavior. I have more than 10 years of experience in animal healthcare—my lifelong passion for helping dogs.

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