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Bathing A Puppy...

Bathing a puppy isn't always going to be an optional activity because puppies can get dirty, sticky and smelly at the drop of a hat!

Their endless curiosity will get them into all sorts of 'stuff' on a regular basis, and sooner or later a bath is going to be essential.

If you're a little nervous about bathing that tiny, wriggly bundle of fur, don't worry you're not alone.

You might be asking yourself....

These are all normal puppy-parent worries, but giving your puppy a bath is really very simple.

This page is packed full of practical guidelines and tried-and-tested tips that will help you have your little one clean, dry and totally cuddle-worthy in no time.

Wet Yorkshire Terrier puppy in towel after taking a bath

When To Bathe Your Puppy

Very young puppies don't generally get very dirty, and it's best not to bathe them before they're 7 - 8 weeks old if possible.

This is because for the first month or so, puppies can't regulate their own body temperature, and they (especially toy and tiny breeds) can get chilled  pretty quickly... so a puppy bath is not a good idea during that time, and a quick 'sponge bath' is much better, and safer.

White puppy with dirt on his coat

How often you find yourself bathing a puppy will depend on lots of things, such as how long he spends outside and whether it's wet, muddy winter or warm, dry summer.

Then there's the occasional crisis - perhaps she's been happily rolling in dead Armadillo (I can personally vouch for the immediate and critical need for a bath, no several, baths in that case), or he's has had a full glass of Coke spilled on his head - don't ask!).

Bottom line - if your pup is dirty, smelly, sticky ...or all of the above then puppy bath time is definitely in order.

Even a pup who doesn't seem to get really dirty needs a bath every now and then (perhaps every other month), but less is more because over bathing can cause dry, irritated skin.

Your pup does need to get familiar with the feeling of the water, being shampooed and blow dried etc. so that he won't be scared of the whole process later on. It's one thing trying to give a nervous puppy a bath... but quite another to try the same thing with a 75lb adult dog!

'Can I give my pup a bath after he's been neutered (or spayed)?'

The answer to this is'Yes, but not right away'.

It's natural to want to clean your puppy up after she's had surgery BUT, you don't want to get any new incision wet or it could cause a problem, such as an infection.

Veterinarians usually advise waiting 10 - 14 days after a spay/neuter surgery (and until the stitches have dissolved or been removed) before bathing your puppy.

Bathing A Puppy - Preparation

Depending on the size of your puppy, you can use the bathtub or the kitchen or laundry room sink for bathing, at least to begin with.

This can make it easier and safer for a tiny, wriggly pup than trying to keep him still, and above water, in a bath tub. 

Now that you're ready to get that first puppy bath-time underway you'll need to gather up all the necessary dog bathing and grooming supplies.

Bathing a puppy

  • A gentle shampoo
    Puppies have delicate skin which can get irritated and overly dry quite easily. When you're bathing a puppy, choose a shampoo that's free from heavy scents and most definitely contains NO flea/tick medication.

  • Towel/s
    Depending on how big your puppy is you may need 1 or even 2 towels, and don't forget one for her to stand on when bath time is over.

    Regular 'people' towels are fine, but can be a bit bulky and awkward when you have a little guy in your arms. Special microfiber dog towels are not just lighter and easier to manage, they're actually more absorbent too. This cute Bone Dry Microfiber Dog Bath Towel (with embroidered paw print) works well.
  • Non-slip rubber mat
    When you're bathing a puppy it's important they feel secure, so find a non-slip mat that fits the bottom of the tub or sink. This will prevent your puppy's feet from slipping all over the place and make her less likely to wriggle (which translates into a lot less splashing too). 
  • Jug or hand-held shower head - to wet down and rinse her with.
  • Old clothes - for you, not your puppy! This is essential when you're bathing a puppy, and an apron is a good idea as well. You'll be surprised at how much water even a little dog's coat can hold. If you don't protect yourself you'll most likely end up as wet as he does.

You might also want to consider training your little one to walk into the shower stall instead of getting in the tub. 

Definitely a good idea if you own a large or giant breed pup who's destined to weigh upward of 60lbs when she grows up. 
My son does this with his Pitbull Terrier and it works perfectly.

Puppy Bath Time - Your 'How To' Guide

Before you start your puppy's bath, bring her into the room with you and CLOSE THE DOORThis is important, because if she gets away from you while wet at least she'll only soak the bathroom or kitchen, and not the entire house!

When you're bathing a puppy you only need a few inches of warm water in the tub or sink. Puppy bathwater temperature should be about the same as you would use for a human baby - 38 - 39 Celsius or 97 - 100 Fahrenheit. If you don't have a thermometer then dip your elbow in... if the water feels comfortably warm, NOT hot, then it's good. 

How deep exactly will depend on the size of your puppy; 4 inches may barely cover your Great Dane's paws but could drown the neighbors chihuahua.

Puppy bathtime cartoon

Unless you think your pup is going to wriggle wildly at bath time (and you could be surprised) remove her collar. If you decide to keep it on, don't forget to take it off once all the fun is over, both her neck and her collar will need to air dry properly.

Place your puppy gently in the water, talking soothingly while you do it. Use a hand-held shower head or jug, gently wet down her coat.

When you're bathing your puppy it's important to make sure that the water soaks the coat, and gets all the way through to the skin, so wet her thoroughly. Some dogs coats are very water-resistant (depending on the amount of oils in the coat and the breed of dog).

Rather than put shampoo directly onto your puppy's coat, mix a little with some warm water in the jug and pour it over her.

Lather well but avoid the eyes and ears. Use a warm, soapy washcloth to clean her face instead.

This next part is pretty important - rinse thoroughly! Take your time over this part and make sure that you get all the soap out of your puppy's fur. Any residue left there will irritate her skin and cause scratching and discomfort long after bath time is over.

Drain the water from the tub or sink and gently squeeze as much moisture as possible from your puppy's coat. Remove the cotton balls from her ears (if they're still there that is!).

Towel dry your puppy gently, if she has long or thick hair try squeezing rather than rubbing. If you rub too hard it can easily tangle her coat.

Puppy Bath Time - Finishing Up

Now, it's time to lift your puppy out of the tub, put her on the towel on the floor..... aaaand duck!.

Shih Tzu puppy in bathtub

Because your puppy is going to shake, and shake again.

There's an old trick that we use to minimize this shaking (with a 100lb rottweiler sending water everywhere, anything's worth a try)...

A dog's 'shake' starts at the tip of the nose and works it's way all the way down to the tip of the tail, so when your puppy looks as if she's going to shake wildly, gently hold her muzzle still and you'll head off, or at least minimize the severity, of her shaking.

Getting your little one dry quickly can prevent her from feeling chilled, small dogs are especially prone to getting cold.

After towel drying as thoroughly as possible let little Fifi air dry indoors with the central heating running if it's cold outdoors.

If it's a nice warm, or hot day she will dry faster outdoors but don't allow her to be in direct sun or outside for more than a few minutes if it's extremely hot.

Puppies and dogs love to roll around when they're just bathed, the grass is probably fine, but try to keep her from rolling in dirt or sand otherwise she'll need another bath!

A simple way to dry your pups' hair properly is to use a doggie hair dryer, and getting her used to this procedure early is a great idea. Make sure it's set to low heat so as not to burn her delicate skin.

Okay, that's it. See, bathing a puppy wasn't that hard was it? You may feel as if you need a bath after all that hard work, but your little one is gorgeous!

Now that she's all nice and squeaky clean, check out my great selection of dog grooming tools/aids to finish up the job!

Puppy Bath Touch Ups & Time Savers

If you're in a hurry to get your little one all clean and sweet-smelling and don't have enough time for the full 'bathing a puppy' routine..... you're in luck!

There are now a whole range of products that make it a lot easier to keep your puppy presentable with minimum time and effort.

Here are a few of the best for you to check out............

If your puppy suffers from tear stains and discoloration around her eyes, it can be really difficult to keep his face looking clean and kissable!

But, there is a product that can help.... Angels' Eyes Tear-Stain Eliminator for Dogs works 'from the inside out' to eliminate those unsightly stains. Simply sprinkle some of this dietary supplement on your puppy's food daily and soon her little face will be clean and her eyes bright. We use it on our Olde English Bulldogge and it works like a charm!

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