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Can I Shower My Dog After Giving Birth?

 
By Matthew Nesbitt, Journalist specialized in animal research. April 14, 2020
Can I Shower My Dog After Giving Birth?

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Before a dog gives birth, hygiene is an important consideration. We need to ensure the puppies are born in a safe environment and minimize the risk of infection. However, the birthing process can get messy. Afterwards, the amniotic sacs and placenta are usually eaten by the mother. She will also lick the newborn puppies clean. However, some of this material may get on the blankets of her nest area and it is not uncommon for the mother to evacuate her bowels when birthing the pups.

For the above reasons, many guardians wonder can I shower my dog after giving birth? AnimalWised reveals that you can indeed shower or bathe your dog after they give birth. However, we need to discuss how long we should wait and whether there are any other hygienic ways we can keep both mother and pups clean.

You may also be interested in: My Dog is Aggressive After Giving Birth

Do we need to bathe a dog after they give birth?

In the first 48 hours after giving birth, our dog will be exhausted both physically and mentally. The effort of giving birth, regardless of litter size, will take its toll. While she will be alert to the needs of her newborn puppies, she will also need plenty of rest. She will have little to no appetite, although you should provide some food in case she needs to regain strength.

Although a dog will not need to bathe as much as humans do, we will still be worried about hygiene. A dog may be dirty after giving birth due to:

  • Defecation: the strain of pushing out her puppies means the mother may also evacuate some fecal matter at the same time.
  • Vomiting: as the whelping (birthing) process begins, the dog may vomit in anticipation. This is one of the reasons why we should put down newspaper when we see the dog begin to whelp.
  • Fetal fluids: the exact composition of the fetal fluid may differ for various reasons[1], but the amount is usually significant enough that it cannot be easily licked clean.
  • Blood: it is possible there will be some blood either due to vaginal tearing or from the afterbirth.
  • Placenta: although the dog will usually eat the placenta and amniotic sacs, the afterbirth can add to the need for cleaning.

While the dog will choose their own space to nest for whelping, we should try to provide them with somewhere comfortable. This will mean putting down blankets or other soft material. However, this may mean there is greater chance of creating a hygiene issue since the blankets can absorb the fluids and other material. Putting down non-absorbent sheeting or covering the blankets in newspaper may be helpful. The dog themselves will still likely get dirty, but cleaning the area may be easier.

A dog will take care of some of her own hygiene by licking herself. The rest will need to be taken care of by us. In most cases, we will not bathe them for the first week postpartum (after the puppies are born). The reason for this is because she will be very tired and she will not want to be removed from her newborn offspring.

If we try to take her away, even for a shower, she may become anxious. Especially for a first-time mother, it is possible she will be confused and her tired state will make things worse. Instead of a shower or bath, we should remove any soiled bedding and wash her with clean towels. We may be able to find suitable antibacterial wipes to help us do this.

Can you shower a dog after a C-section?

The scenario detailed above is for a vaginal birth which occurs without complications in labor. However, there are some circumstances where there will be an obstruction or similar reason why a dog cannot give birth vaginally. In these cases, the dog will need to give birth by cesarean section. Some dogs, such as English Bulldogs, require C-sections in the majority of cases.

When a dog requires a cesarean, the veterinarian will take care of the procedure. This is why it is vital we take the dog to the veterinarian beforehand to see if a C-section needs scheduled. You won't need to give the dog a shower as the veterinary surgeons will take care of this. The dog will need anaesthesia for the cesarean section to be carried out[2]. The puppies will need to be looked after until the mother regains consciousness.

The dog will need to be cleaned by the surgeons for sterilization purposes. If the dog is unclean, bacteria can infect the wound. If the dog needs a shower after having a cesarean, the veterinary staff will clean them. However, once the dog is a home, we will need to ensure their stitches are secure.

A dog may take up to 6 hours to recover from the anaesthetic. Even after this time, we need to be very careful that we don't let the dog roll over on her puppies. They will still need to feed, but the veterinarian should give you replacement puppy formula if the mother is unable to breastfeed.

It is common for a dog to have bloody discharge after a cesarean section. In this cases, we shouldn't give them a shower unless we have to. We should clean them with appropriate hygiene products, similar to a normal birth.

Can I Shower My Dog After Giving Birth? - Can you shower a dog after a C-section?

Bathing a dog after they have given birth

Unless the dog is desperately in need of a shower or bath, we need to keep them as clean as we can in their nesting area. We might be able to do this while they are sleeping, but we shouldn't disturb them too much while they are breastfeeding and resting. We should give them access to food and water, but only give them small portions. If they eat too fast, it can cause them to vomit. Small portions of soft food every 30 to 60 minutes is ideal.

A week after the birth of the puppies, you should be able to shower or bathe the dog if we need to. If we don't, we can leave it longer as long as they are hygienic. To shower a dog after they have given birth:

  • Wait until the puppies are not nursing, meaning they are likely to be sleeping.
  • Carefully pick up the dog or lead her to the bathroom. Use treats to provide some positive reinforcement. If she is too anxious to leave the puppies, try another time.
  • Shower the dog with warm water.
  • Lather in an appropriate dog shampoo, perhaps a puppy shampoo since the puppies will come in contact with her fur after bathing. Harsh detergents or shampoos might agitate the vulnerable pups.
  • Rinse her and dry.

You don't want to make the dog worried by rushing too much, but you also want to ensure the mother is not away from her pups for too long. Dry with a hair dyer for efficiency and bring her back as soon as you are done. Also make sure the nesting area has clean blankets, etc.

Now you know about when to shower a dog after she gives birth, you may want to know when to bathe a puppy for the first time. You can also check out one of our videos below for practical guidance.

If you want to read similar articles to Can I Shower My Dog After Giving Birth?, we recommend you visit our Gestation category.

References

1. Veronesi, M. C., et al. (2017). Biochemical Composition of Fetal Fluids in at Term, Normal Developed, Healthy, Viable Dogs and Preliminary Data From Pathologic Littermates. Theriogenology, 1(108), 277-283.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29277067/

2. Kraus, B. L., (2016). Anesthesia For Cesarean Section in the Dog. Veterinary Focus, 26(1), 24-31.
https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1013&context=vcs_pubs

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