Should I Bathe My Dog During Winter?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

Should your pet forego bubbly baths when the temperatures drop or should you bathe your pooch regularly all year long? There’s no universal answer to this question as situations can be wildly different from one pet or the other – how harsh is the climate you live in, would you bathe your pooch in a well-heated bathroom or not, how thick is their coat, and so on. All of these factors will influence the answer you’re given! To find out what’s the verdict for your own pooch when it comes to winter bathing, read on.

Should I Bathe My Dog During Winter?

The fact that it’s cold outside doesn’t have to mean your four-legged bestie has to smell funky for weeks on end – at least not in most cases. You can bathe your dog in the winter as long as you follow some ground rules that are meant to ensure your dog's well-being. Here’s what you need to know:

#1 Don’t Do It Too Often

Dogs don't need bathing as frequently as we do (duh), so if your dog isn't visibly dirty or smelly, you should be able to extend the time between baths to a couple of weeks. Overbathing can strip essential oils from your dog's skin, which can lead to dryness and irritation, so too much bathing isn’t good either. You can probably get through the winter with just one or two baths.

#2 Keep The Water Toasty

Ensure that the water you use for the bath is warm, not hot. Hot water can dry out your dog’s skin, so don’t be tempted to overly increase the water temperature just because the weather is cold outside. Of course, you should also make sure the bathing area is warm, and have towels ready to dry your dog quickly.

#3 Fast Drying Is Key


It's crucial to dry your dog thoroughly and quickly after a bath, especially during winter. If your dog has a thick coat, make sure to remove excess water with towels and possibly a hairdryer set on a low, warm setting. If your dog stays wet for an extended period, it can lead to discomfort and even hypothermia in cold weather. If you have a dog with a thicker or longer coat, a  quality dog hair dryer can ensure your pooch is all fluffy and dry in a matter of minutes. 

#4 Skip The Outdoor Bath

OK, this one might be obvious but it’s still worth mentioning. Don’t hose down your pooch in your backyard unless it’s summertime – when the weather gets even a lil’ bit chilly, the baths should be indoors only, where the temperature is controlled. If they don’t fit in your bathroom or can’t use it for any reason, then skip the baths during the winter. Things such as dog wipes or a simple wet rag can help you clean any dirt, grime, or smelliness off your pooch. Or at least most of them! 

#5 Switch Products To Winter-Friendly Formulas

Use a dog shampoo that is specifically formulated for your dog's coat type and skin condition, but opt for a richer formula with protective aspects that will nourish your pet’s skin and coat in the winter.  Some shampoos are designed to moisturize and soothe dry skin, which is beneficial during the winter months when cold winds can dry out their skin and make their coat brittle and dull. If you are unsure about which specific product to use, your vet can give good recommendations. 

#6 Embrace Alternatives to Bathing

We’ve already mentioned using  dog wipes to maintain good hygiene in the absence of bathing but it’s not the only thing you can do to minimize the need for baths in the winter. Regular brushing can be a great way to remove any dirt in the coat before it accumulates or causes an unpleasant coat smell and it also helps remove loose fur and distribute natural oils. This promotes moisturized skin and healthy fur, too. A win-win situation!

In summary, you can bathe your dog during winter, but it's essential to be mindful of the temperature of the room and water, the drying process, and your dog's individual needs. If you're unsure, consult with your veterinarian for guidance based on your dog's breed, health, and lifestyle. It goes without saying that bathing a dog in cold temperatures and without proper attention to detail can be very bad for their health.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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