Whether your dog just had puppies, or you’ve adopted a new pup, it’s important to know how to bathe a puppy or when can you wash a puppy and even what can you wash a puppy with, in order to ensure you don’t stress out your little one or cause serious skin issues. Puppies don’t need to be bathed daily, but considering how messy they can be, you need to have a good plan in place when you inevitably need to give your little one a bath.
Bathing puppies can be much simpler than bathing a large adult dog, but since they’re so little and have a weak immune system, it’s important that you follow certain precautions for your pup’s first bath.
Puppy’s First Bath
A puppy shouldn’t be cleaned daily because you’ll end up stripping essential oils from the fur. This can lead to skin irritation, dry skin, and rashes. So, if you must bathe your puppy, try to limit it to just once or twice a week.
Additionally, most dog shampoos you’ll come across are designed for puppies that are three months and older. However, you can still bathe your puppy if they’re younger than three months, you’ll just need to use a different product, such as Dawn dish soap, or even baby shampoo that’s designed for sensitive skin.
If you’re dealing with a newborn puppy, you can easily bathe them using a warm, wet washcloth. Typically, the pup’s mother will lick them clean, so this gentle approach to bathing the puppy will be very relaxing for them.
After the newborn pup has been wiped down and cleaned it’s also important that you keep him or her nice and warm until they’re completely dry.
Generally, newborn puppies don’t get very dirty since they don’t move around much and are too young to play or get into trouble. Often, this task is left up to the mother, but if your pup is motherless or ends up rolling in their feces, a quick wipe down using plain warm water should do the trick.
Is a Puppy Bath Safe?
Placing your puppy in a shallow tub of warm water for a soap-less bath can be very beneficial for your new pup. Certain breeds that require daily grooming will benefit from baths at an early age because it will help them to become accustomed to bath time, which will be very important later in life. Just remember, at this time, regular bathing is not recommended because it can often disrupt the natural balance of the puppy’s fur and skin to some extent.
Under the fur, the skin features a coating of good bacteria. This type of bacteria helps to maintain the puppy’s skin, keeping it at the right level of acidity. When you wash away this type of bacteria regularly, it alters the balance, reducing the puppy’s resistance to infections and skin problems. It also makes them more susceptible to a yeast overgrowth.
As the puppy grows, their fine fur is replaced by a thicker, tougher coat, but this doesn’t happen until the puppy is around three or four months old. This is why most pet shampoo manufacturers don’t recommend using their products for dogs under the three-month mark.
Between the ages of six and twelve months, the puppy will have grown their adult fur. An adult dog’s fur is almost waterproof, protecting the delicate skin underneath from irritation.
The fur is made semi-waterproof thanks to the increased oil production. The oil helps to keep the skin comfortable and warm when a dog is out in wet weather conditions. As we mentioned, regularly shampooing a dog can easily strip their skin of this important oil.
So, in order to avoid stripping away these oils, how often is it safe to bathe a puppy? If your pup is pretty messy, we don’t recommend bathing them more than once a week if they’re under three months of age. When they’re around six months old they shouldn’t need a bath more than once a month, depending on breed. Some dogs smell more than others or need regular bathing and grooming to prevent mats and skin infections.
Managing Pet Hair
If your dog is a shedder, bathing and regular brushing can help you manage their shedding, but it won’t stop it entirely. If you love your dog but can’t stand the pet hair that seems to coat every surface in your home and your clothing, then you need a pet hair specific vacuum. Models such as the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser come equipped with special attachments that are designed to suck up stubborn pet hair and pet dander.
If you’re dealing with a dog breed that sheds more than average, such as a Great Pyrenees, a Chow Chow, or a German Shepherd, then it’s a good idea to be prepared for when your puppy’s adult coat comes in, before you’re knee deep in pet hair.
To learn more about the leading models of vacuums designed to pick up pet hair, click here to read our buyer’s guide.
When Does a Puppy Need a Bath?
All puppies have that natural dog scent, so, if you’re a new dog owner, you might not know when your dog actually needs a bath.
Your pup may need a bath if:
- They’re infected with fleas
- Roll in their feces
- Have a skin condition that causes an overproduction of oils, such as eczema
- The have skin allergies
- They have a strong odor caused by an underlying health problem