When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time

By Olivia Grisham, Journalist specialized in animal care. Updated: September 2, 2018
When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time

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Bathing a puppy for the first time 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. This is directly related to their health. This is particularly so if your puppy is between 1 and 2 months old, so it is fundamental to review them all.

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 our advice.

Keep reading this AnimalWised article and find out when to give a puppy a bath for the first time.

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Time for their first bath

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

Until a month and a half or even two months of life, a puppy should not be separated from their mother under any circumstances. Their survival depends on her and during this time we must provide them with tranquility and comfort in an isolated "nest". It is very important not to bathe the 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. This mean's puppy's first bath with you may mean you will have to take over all other necessary care needs such as diet and protection.

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 great stress during their first bath, which can lead to a poor immunological response to the vaccine.

For this reason, veterinarians recommend waiting 1 to 2 weeks after each vaccine. 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 bathe a puppy for the first time

Once we are clear on when to bathe a puppy for the first time, we will proceed to accumulate the appropriate tools:

  • 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

It is wise and convenient to prepare everything before giving a puppy a bath. We must provide them with a warm environment, which does not cause a thermal shock in the dog. If it is winter at the time, put the heating on for some time before starting this experience. This is because going from cold to hot can damage their nervous system and lead to serious health problems.

We must emphasize that the bath is probably one of the most important moments of a puppy's life since it is directly related to socialization. If you do not know, this is the process in which we present the puppy with all kinds of stimuli and experiences. Therefore it is important to make it a pleasant and positive experience for them, then they will enjoy baths as an adult.

When bathing puppies, we will 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 a sense of suffocation. Then we will wet the puppy completely, avoiding their head. Never wet their eyes and ears. During this time it is advisable to play with water and even add a toy to make the experience more fun and acceptable.

Once the puppy is soaked in water we can proceed to apply a specific shampoo for puppies. Puppies have more delicate skin, so hydrate and protect them well. Shampoos for adult dogs are not recommended at all.

During the bath we will use the sponge and rubber comb to reach all nooks and crannies, thus applying correctly. When we are finished, we should rinse thoroughly and remove all traces of the shampoo.

To finish, we will use one or two towels to fully wrap the puppy. This point is very important: puppy's first bath should be a positive experience. Once the towels absorb the water well, proceed to use the dryer at a low setting with a low heat so that the dog does not become scared or feel uncomfortable. Everything should remain relaxed and comfortable for the pup.

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

Antiparasitic or emergency baths

We have previously explained how to execute a successful first bath for a puppy. However, some puppies lose their mothers, are picked up in shelters or suffer accidents that causes them to get dirty or soil themselves. If this is your case, do not worry, we're here to help.

The main reason for insisting in respecting timing is to avoid possible colds or rejection from their mother and support the efficiency of vaccinations. However, if we promote a stress-free first puppy bath, they are unlikely to suffer a bad reaction. These problems usually 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 look at their fur first. If your dog has suffered from an infestation of fleas, ticks or you think they may be suffering from 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 and can be carriers of various diseases. For that reason, a professional assessment is highly recommended.

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

If you cannot go to the vet quickly, it is important to act by providing a bath to the puppy. However, in this case you should get an anti-lice brush for children your dog is completely free of parasites. Check the areas of the armpits, crotch, ears and all those places "warm" and poorly exposed of the puppy. Do not forget that you will have to kill all the parasites so that they do not infect the puppy dog ‚Äč‚Äčagain. Dedicate as much time as you need to this process.

On the other hand, internal parasites are treatable. Go to the veterinarian who will offer a puppy deworming pill, specific for these delicate animals.

What to do if the puppy has gotten dirty?

In this case we recommend you evaluate if it really is necessary to bathe completely. For example, if the dog has become soiled in a specific area we can use wet wipes and rub the dirty area gently. There are also dry dog shampoos specific to puppies. There are homemade versions of dog shampoos, but you need to know what you're doing when giving a puppy a bath for the first time.

However, if your puppy is really dirty and smelly it will be imperative to bathe it. Make sure the process is as gentle and positive as possible and observe their behavior after the bath, to make sure everything is fine and healthy.

When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time - Antiparasitic or emergency baths

How often to bathe a puppy

After giving a puppy a bath for the first time we can begin to bathe them regularly whenever they are dirty or smelly. However, the ideal time for the bath should be between 20 and 60 days. That's because dogs have a layer of fat that protects their skin. If we are giving puppies a bath before this time is up, we run the risk of destroying this protective layer.

To prevent this from happening, it will be highly recommended to buy a moisturizing puppy shampoo, which protects their skin well from regular contact with water, thus preventing it from drying out.

Do not forget that regular brushing helps to eliminate dead hair and dirt and should be one of your main hygiene routines.

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

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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1 comment
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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