How often you should shower your dog is a highly individualized question. Consider how often you think you can handle the process and how well you and others in the house can handle your dog's odor. Talk to your veterinarian, too, for bath frequency advice tailored to your best furry friend.
Rule of Thumb
The ASPCA and other pet care organizations generally suggest bathing your dog roughly once every three months. That said, your dog's breed, amount of physical activity, propensity for rolling around in the muck, skin and coat health, type of hair and numerous other considerations all figure in. Some dogs are naturally stinkier than others, too. So whether your dog needs to be bathed four times annually as per the standard advice, or monthly, is largely something you'll have to decide for yourself. The important thing is that your dog is kept clean and well-groomed and that her smell doesn't become a disruptive force in your home.
Don't get stuck on a set schedule for getting your dog into the shower. Chances are that situations will arise necessitating a bath. In the summer your dog will probably get a bit smellier than during cold weather. If you take your dog along on a hike through forested terrain or if a family of moles move into your yard and attract your dog's attention, she's probably going to require a good cleaning. Or maybe you've become desensitized to your dog's natural odor, but are afraid the evening's dinner guests might not enjoy it. Remain flexible about when you bathe your dog; it's your responsibility to take care of your pet's grooming and hygiene needs as they arise.
Skin and Coat Health
Another consideration is whether your pet has any skin or coat conditions. Dry skin, for example, is usually exacerbated by bathing, so showering is often best minimized or even avoided with dogs suffering from chronic dry skin and hair. Some relatively common skin problems, such as seborrhea, cause itching and other symptoms that can drive your dog crazy and even lead to excessive scratching that raises the risk of injuries and infections. These conditions are typically manageable with the use of medicated shampoos, and frequent bathing may be an effective way of maintaining your dog's quality of life. Managing a superficial condition, picking appropriate products and deciding on a bathing schedule require input from your veterinarian.
When You Aren't Bathing Your Dog
Bathing is one small part of the grooming regimen when you parent a pooch. Regardless of whether your put your dog in the shower once every week or once every year, other grooming tasks are important for keeping your dog looking and feeling great, and some reduce the need for baths. Brush your dog's coat out daily if she has long hair, or every other day or two if she has short hair. This minimizes knots, matting and accumulation of dirt and foreign matter. Keep a watchful eye for signs of fleas, ticks and other parasites. Familiarize yourself with your dog's skin and the way her body feels, and look her over weekly for changes to her appearance, new lumps or bumps and other possible signs and symptoms of health concerns. Check regularly for injuries and infections too. Mention anything out of the ordinary to your veterinarian.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.