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When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time

By Olivia Grisham, Journalist specialized in animal care. Updated: November 11, 2019
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 taken 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 its first bath?

Puppies are fragile living beings and susceptible to diseases from 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 circumstances. 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” or living space. It is very important not to bathe a puppy before weaning. If you do so, this could cause the mother to reject her puppy as she may not identify their scent as familiar. So, you might be wondering, when can I give a puppy its first bath? The answer is, after weaning. Once you give a puppy a bath, you as their owner will have to take over caring for the puppy. This means making sure your puppy is given appropriate food, medication, exercise and training.

On the other hand, it is also necessary to take into account the dog's vaccination schedule before giving your puppy a bath for the first time. A puppy could suffer 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, you can proceed to arrange the materials and equipment you need for the puppy’s first bath. Make sure you have the following:

  • Warm ambient temperature
  • Positive and relaxed atmosphere
  • Puppy-specific shampoo
  • Sponge
  • Rubber dog comb (soft)
  • A bucket of warm water
  • Towels and hair dryer

We recommend making sure all of the above are prepared before giving a puppy's first bath. You must provide them with a warm environment, to avoid causing thermal shock to 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 this first bath is probably one of the most important moments of a puppy's life, as it is directly related to the puppy’s socialization process.This is the process by which we present the puppy to all kinds of new stimuli and experiences. Therefore it is important to make your puppy's first bath a pleasant and positive experience, 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 water level is not too high and the water does not cover the puppy too much. This is to make sure they don't suffer stress or feel a sense of suffocation. Next, wet the puppy completely, avoiding it’s head. Never wet a puppy’s eyes and ears. During this time, try playing gently with the water or using a toy to help make the bath experience fun for the puppy.

Once the puppy is soaked in water, apply a shampoo specifically meant for puppies. Puppies have delicate skin, which 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 the nooks and crannies of the puppy’s body. When the puppy has been properly cleaned, rinse it thoroughly with warm water to remove all traces of shampoo.

To finish, use one or two towels to fully wrap the puppy. Do not forget: a puppy's first bath should be a positive experience. Once the towels have absorbed the water, finish the drying using a hairdryer on a low speed and low heat setting. Make sure you do not scare the puppy. For more information, take a look at this article on 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

A puppy's first bath: what to take into consideration

Now that it is clear how to give a puppy a bath, here are some special circumstances you may have to consider: 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 on respecting the timing of a puppy's first bath is to avoid possible colds or rejection from their mother and to support the effectiveness of puppy's vaccinations. However, if you promote a stress-free first puppy bath, they are unlikely to suffer a bad reaction. Problems when giving a puppy its first bath 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 internal parasites, it is very important to go to the vet as soon as possible. Puppies are susceptible to parasites infestations. These parasites be also be carriers of various diseases, which a puppy can catch very quickly. This is why immediate professional assessment is recommended.

It is important to understand that there are regular antiparasitic treatments should not be used for puppies. the chemicals in these drugs can cause an 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. You can add vinegar to the bath, but only use diluted vinegar and make sure to avoid the puppy's eyes and ears. In case your puppy has fleas or ticks, use an anti-lice brush designed for children instead of a rubber one. Carefully brush your puppy’s armpits, crotch, ears and other warm or underexposed parts of the their body. 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 with medication. 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 drugs, usually in the form of a pill.

What to do if my puppy is dirty?

In your puppy is evidently dirty, we recommend cleaning the 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 dog shampoos you can try, but before using them make sure that you know how to bathe a puppy for the first time.

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

When to Give a Puppy a Bath for the First Time - A puppy's first 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, you should ideally bathe a puppy only every 20 to 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 a moisturizing puppy shampoo, which protects their skin 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.

References
  1. Seksel, K., Mazurski, E. J., and Taylor, A. (1999). Puppy socialisation programs: short and long term behavioural effects. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 62(4), 335-349.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159198002329

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3 comments
Rating:
Albert
Great article about puppy and his bath!!
Rating:
Logan
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
Jenna
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:

https://www.animalwised.com/when-to-start-training-a-puppy-2104.html

https://www.animalwised.com/how-to-calm-a-hyperactive-dog-1428.html

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