When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time

By Olivia Grisham, Journalist specialized in animal care. Updated: November 22, 2018
When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time

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Giving a puppy its first bath is one of the sweetest moments any animal lover can experience. However, there are some factors that should be taken into account before bathing puppies. These factors are directly related to a puppy’s health. Extra care needs to be take especially if your puppy is between 1 and 2 months old.

If your puppy is dirty, has fleas or you want to introduce them to water as part of their socialization process: it is important to follow a specific set of rules or advice. If you want to know more about your puppy’s first bath: Keep reading this AnimalWised article and find out when to give a puppy a bath for the first time.

You may also be interested in: How to Give Bath to Cat for First Time

When can you give a puppy a bath?

Puppies are fragile living beings and susceptible to diseases within their environment. This is because their immune system has not yet fully developed. For this reason, colostrum (or breast milk) provided by their mother is highly necessary. This milk is full of nutrients and antibodies that are there to help the puppies tackle any possible disease.

Until a month and a half or even two months of life, a puppy should not be separated from their mother under any circumstance. A puppy’s survival depends on its mother, and during this time we must provide them with tranquility and comfort. You can do this by offering your bitch and her puppies an isolated "nest". It is very important not to bathe a puppy before weaning. If you do so, you could cause the mother to reject her puppy as she may not identify their scent as familiar. But then, if this is the case, you might be wondering, when can I give a puppy a bath? After weaning. Once you give a puppy a bath, you as their owner will have to take over caring for the puppy. This care means making sure your puppy is given; appropriate feed, medication, exercise and training.

On the other hand, it is also necessary to take into account the vaccination schedule of the dog before giving a puppy a bath. Occasionally, a dog will suffer from stress during their first bath, which can lead to a poor immunological response to vaccines.

For this reason, veterinarians recommend waiting 1 to 2 weeks after each vaccine before giving a puppy a bath. A puppy's vaccination schedule is as follows:

  • 6 weeks - Primary vaccination
  • 8 weeks - Multipurpose
  • 12 weeks - Polyvalent
  • 16 weeks - Rabies
  • Yearly - Reminders

How to give a puppy a bath

Once you are clear on when to give a puppy a bath, we can proceed to accumulate the appropriate tools for this puppy’s first bath:

  • Warm ambient temperature.
  • Positive and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Puppy specific shampoo.
  • Sponge.
  • Dog comb for rubber (soft).
  • A bucket of warm water.
  • Towels and hair dryer.

We recommend making sure all of the above is prepared before giving a puppy a bath. We must provide them with a warm environment, to avoid causing thermal shock in the dog. If you bathe your puppy in winter, we suggest putting on a heater before starting the bath. The reason for this is because if you move a puppy from cold temperature to hot temperature too quickly it can damage their nervous system and lead to serious health problems.

We must emphasize that a bath is probably one of the most important moments of a puppy's life: as it is directly related to a puppy’s socialization process.This is the process in which we present the puppy to all kinds of new stimuli and experiences. Therefore it is important to make it a pleasant and positive experience for them, in order to make sure they will enjoy baths in the future[1].

When bathing puppies, start by filling the bucket or the tub with warm water. It is important that the height of the water does not cover them too much so that they do not suffer stress or feel any sense of suffocation. Then, wet the puppy completely, avoiding it’s head. Never wet a puppy’s eyes and ears. During this time, try play gently with the water or use a toy: aiming to make this experience fun for the puppy.

Once the puppy is soaked in water, apply specific shampoo for puppies. Puppies have delicate skin, therefore it needs to be hydrated and protected. Shampoos for adult dogs are not recommended for puppies, as they tend to be too strong for a puppy’s skin.

During the bath, use a sponge and rubber comb to reach all nooks and crannies of the puppy’s body. When the puppy has been cleaned well, rinse thoroughly and remove all traces of shampoo.

To finish, use one or two towels to fully wrap the puppy. Do not forget: puppy's first bath should be a positive experience. Once the towels have absorbed the water well, proceed to use a hairdryer at a low setting and low heat, making sure that you do not scare your puppy. For more, take a look at; getting a dog used to a hair dryer.

When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time - How to give a puppy a bath

Giving a puppy a bath: what to take into consideration

Now that it is clear how to give a puppy a bath, other factor needs to be taken into consideration. The factors include; puppies losing their mothers early on, being picked up in shelters or suffering accidents that cause them to get dirty or soil themselves. If this is your case, don’t worry, we're here to help.

The main reason we insist in respecting timing when bathing a puppy is; to avoid possible colds, rejection from their mother and support a puppy’s efficiency to vaccinations. However, if you promote a stress-free first puppy bath, they are unlikely to suffer a bad reaction.

Problems when giving a puppy a bath usually only occur in puppies: suffering from poor nutrition, deplorable hygienic situations, extreme temperatures, etc.

What to do if the puppy has fleas or other parasites?

When giving your puppy their first bath, you should first look at their fur. If your dog is suffering from an infestation of fleas, ticks or the appearance of internal parasites; it is very important to go to the vet as soon as possible.

Puppies are susceptible to developing diseases and parasites quickly. These parasites can also be carriers of various diseases. This is why immediate professional assessment is recommended.

It is important to understand that there are no antiparasitic treatments for puppies. Chemicals can cause a very adverse reaction in puppies. Such reactions include; vomiting, allergy, diarrhea and serious breathing problems. Therefore, Never use an antiparasitic on your puppy.

If you cannot go to your vet immediately, it is important to act by giving your puppy a bath. However, in this case, opt for an anti-lice brush for children. Brush your puppy’s, armpits, crotch, ears and all those warm places which are poorly exposed on a puppy. Do not forget that you will have to kill all the parasites so that they do not infect the puppy. Dedicate as much time as you need to this process.

On the other hand, internal parasites in puppies are treatable. If you think your puppy has internal parasites, go to your veterinarian immediately. A professional will be able to prescribe your puppy with appropriate deworming medication, likely in the form of a pill.

What to do if my puppy is dirty?

In your puppy is evidently dirty, we recommend cleaning your puppy immediately. For example, if the dog has become soiled in a specific area; you can use wet wipes and rub the dirty area gently. There are also dry dog shampoos specific for puppies. There are homemade versions of dog shampoos, but you need to make sure that your first know how to bathe a puppy.

However, if your puppy is really dirty and smells; it will be imperative to bathe it. Make sure the process is as gentle and positive as possible. Observe your puppy’s behavior, if they seem nervous, make sure you console them and make sure your puppy feels safe and secure.

When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time - Giving a puppy a bath: what to take into consideration

How often to bathe a puppy

After giving a puppy a bath for the first time, you can begin to bathe them regularly whenever they are dirty or smelly. However, the ideal time to bathe a puppy should be between 20 and 60 days. This is because dogs have a layer of fat that protects their skin. If you bath your puppy too much, you run the risk of destroying this protective layer. To prevent this from happening, we recommend that you use moisturizing puppy shampoo, which protects their skin well from regular contact with water, thus preventing it from drying out.

Do not forget that brushing your puppy regularly helps to eliminate dead hair and dirt.

When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time - How often to bathe a puppy

Did you find this article helpful? If so, you’ll love our cute YouTube video on: How to Bathe A Puppy For The First Time.

If you want to read similar articles to When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.


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Great article about puppy and his bath!!
This article is joke. Puppies will be just fine if you give them a bath as early as 1 week old. We have always given our puppies baths to keep them from getting really smelly. The mother wont reject them because of their sent, that's complete bogus garbage. The mother will be just fine and keep feeding them. Also, their "scent" is poop and pee, so as soon as they use the bathroom the mother will ge the same scent. Duh
I bought a puppy that is 9 weeks old and it is very
hyper. It don't stay quiet for one minute.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Jenna,

9 weeks is the edge of when a puppy should be taken away from their mother. They need to have had proper socialization with other animals and humans to avoid behavioral problems in the future.

In saying this, your puppy is very young, they are just getting to know their environment and your home is a new one to them. They may just be excited, so ensure they have enough physical and mental stimulation to tire them out. Here are two articles which explain further:

When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time
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When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time

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