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Bathing Puppies

Updated on August 18, 2015
Bad hair day after a bath.
Bad hair day after a bath.

What Age to Bathe a Puppy

You should not bath puppies younger than 8 weeks old.

Puppies under 8 weeks can be rinsed with plain water and puppy wipes, but I would stay away from puppy shampoos. And, definitely stay away from any flea and tick shampoo.

If older than 8 weeks old, you can bath the puppy with a gentle puppy shampoo. Make sure to stay to keep the shampoo away from the puppies eyes and ears.

If you choose to use a flea and tick shampoo on your puppy, you should really wait until the puppy is at least 3 months old. If your puppy is suffering from fleas and, or, ticks, you can speak with your veterinarian about Capstar, a pill used to kill fleas and ticks on dogs. Otherwise, he may have another suggestion.

Puppy Bath

Get your pup used to baths

You want to start slowly. Get the puppy used to the bathtub or other bathing place that you will use when the puppy is an adult. If you plan on using the bathtub to wash your dog, place the puppy in the tub and offer him a treat or a toy. Make sure to make it a fun and exciting experience.

Once the puppy is used to sitting in the bath tub, and he realizes that nothing bad is going to happen, begin wiping him with a wet towel while he's still in the tub. Remember to offer treats as you do so.

After you puppy is used to the towel, bring in a small container of water that you've already filled. Pour the water over the puppy, slowly. Don't saturate him at once. Get the puppy used to being wet in the bath tub. And, once he's used to this, you can add the running water.

This procedure may take longer than one bath time experience, so be prepared to continue working on getting the puppy used to taking baths.

Bath Time Preperations

Before bathing the puppy, comb his hair and brush out any mats and tangles.

You can use a drop of mineral oil in the eyes to protect them from soap suds and appropriately sized cotton balls in the dogs ears. But, I prefer to just be extra careful around these areas.

If you're bathing your puppy in the bath tub, go ahead and fill the tub to the level where the puppy's knees will be. You can have the dog in the water if you wish, just make sure that the water's not too hot. You want the water to be around 102F, which is the average dog's temperature.

The Puppy Bath

If you have a bathing tether, attach one end to the puppies collar and the other to the bathtub. Using a cup, pour the clean water over the puppy; you can you the shower nozzle, but make sure that its on gentle.

Once the puppy's wet, apply the shampoo, working it gently through the puppy's coat for an average of 5 to 10 minutes.

Make sure not to get any soap suds in the puppy's eyes or ears. Use a washcloth to clean the pup's face and a soft brush to clean his paws.

Drain the tub before rinsing the puppy. You don't want to pour the dirty water on him. Make sure to rinse the puppy twice, just to make 100% positively sure that you've gotten all the soap off.

Drain the tub again, so that the puppy isn't standing in the water while he dries. It kind of defeats the purpose of drying the puppy if he's up to his knees in water. ;-)

If you decide to use a hair dryer, keep the heat and force on low. Make sure to condition your dog to the noise before you try to use it on him. (You can do that by having him in the bathroom with you when you're drying your own hair.)

Keep the puppy away from any drafts until his coat is completely dry.

How often should I bathe my puppy?

Puppies should not be bathed anymore than once a month. If you over bath a puppy, or a dog, you can dry out his skin.

As the puppy ages, you can increase the bath frequency to twice a month and then once a week, if you choose to. I would recommend bathing an adult dog no more than twice a month.

In order to cut down any excess odors that your dog may have in between bath times, you can use dog wipes or even baby wipes. When using dog wipes, gently rub the dog's coat with the wipe. The wipes tend to work better on short haired dogs.

You could, also, consider a dog spray. Do not use your perfumes and body sprays. Find sprays that are approved for animals.

Waterless bath sprays work wonders in between bath times, as well. You spray the product on the dog and wipe it off. Some waterless bath sprays contain conditioning and moisturizing ingredients which enhance the dog's skin and coat.


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