When you bring home a new puppy, one of the first things you’ll notice is their unique puppy smell.
While it may not be unpleasant, it prompts owners to think about when they should give their puppy their first bath. Although it may appear to be a simple question, the answer holds significant importance.
Veterinarians recommend to wait until 1-2 weeks after your puppy’s last set of vaccinations before being bathed. By this time, most puppies will be around 16-18 weeks old.
If your puppy is very dirty before 16 weeks, you can give him a spot clean with a damp towel, but he shouldn’t be submerged before this age.
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Puppies & Their First Bath
Although there isn’t an absolute correct age to go by, puppies do not need frequent bathing, especially in the beginning.
In fact, professionals recommend that puppies should not take a bath before 16 weeks old, unless extremely dirty.
Ideally, you should wait until 1 – 2 weeks after your puppy has received his final set of vaccinations, which brings you to around the 16th-week mark.
While your puppy is being vaccinated, his immune system is dramatically weakened which makes him considerably more vulnerable to various situations, one of them being wet.
As puppies cannot control their own body temperature, being wet is a prime moment where hypothermia can set in and cause some serious issues.
That’s the main reason why it’s recommended to wait for as long as you can before bathing.
Can I bathe my 2-week old puppy?
Puppies get themselves into all kinds of weird and wonderful situations! So what can be done if your puppy gets something foul on his coat before 16 weeks?
As I mentioned above, proper bathing should only happen at the earliest of 16 weeks. This is because puppies cannot regulate their own temperature very well.
So can you bathe your 2-week old puppy? No, you cannot fully bathe a 2-week old puppy. But you can spot clean him with a warm damp cloth at any age if he becomes particularly dirty.
Spot cleaning is safe, but you need to make sure you do not dip or submerge him completely in the water. You should only clean one small spot as necessary.
Hypothermia is a big threat to newborn pups.
How often should you bathe your puppy?
Now you know when a puppy can take a bath, you’ll want to know how often should you bathe your puppy.
Puppies do not necessarily need frequent bathing and baths should be kept to a bare minimum to avoid irritating the skin.
After waiting at least 16 weeks before giving the first bath, you can then proceed to give your puppy one bath every two weeks only if absolutely needed.
If your puppy does not smell or need a bath in a month, then it’s best to leave the bath until necessary.
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Some breeds are naturally cleaner and require less bathing whereas some are a little dirtier and require more bathing. Your breed will play a big factor in bath frequency.
As your puppy gets older, the frequency of bathing should be less, around once every 3 months or more is ok.
You can stick by this puppy bathing timeline:
- 0-16 weeks old – Spot clean only
- 16 weeks to 6 months – Maximum of once every two weeks
- 6 months and over – Maximum of once per three months
Is bathing your dog too much bad?
When you hear that for some dogs it’s normal only to bath them once every 4-6 months, we instantly ask why is that?
Bathing your dog too frequently can be bad for his coat and skin
Your dog’s coat is his protection from the outside elements like the heat, cold, wind, rain, UV rays, bugs, dirt and more. One of the main contributors to this protection is the essential oils that cover the coat. These essential oils are released from the skin and act as a strong barrier
Too much shampooing and bathing can break down the essential oils and cause skin irritation. The health of a dog’s coat and skin is important for overall health.
Puppy Bath Temperature
What is the correct temperature to bathe your puppy in? The correct temperature to bathe your puppy or dog is 37°C. Human body temperature.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, the water shouldn’t actually be warm or cold to our touch.
Many people think their puppy will appreciate a nice warm bath. Although it may be nice for us, it’s not quite the same for your puppy. Your pup’s skin is very sensitive and water above 37 degrees can pose a few health risks.
Not only does it increase the chances of your pup’s skin drying out later on, but it increases the chance of hypothermia too
On top of that, when the temperature rises above 38°C it can raise his temperature too much and make his heart beat faster. This puts extra strain on young, old or ill dogs. Source
Best shampoo for puppies
A lot of dogs have sensitive skins, and puppies even more so! Therefore you should pick carefully which shampoo you use to bathe him.
The issue with a lot of shampoos is that they contain ingredients too harsh for puppies. These harsh ingredients can strip the essential oils from his coat and irritate his sensitive skin.
Below are a couple of the most highly recommended shampoos for puppies. Both of these are natural and are made with your puppy’s sensitive skin in mind.
1. TropiClean Hypo-Allergenic Gentle Coconut Puppy Shampoo
Check the latest reviews here on Amazon.com
- All-natural healthy ingredients
- Hypoallergenic and very gentle
- Tear-free soapless formula
- Natural oils and vitamins
- Vegan ingredients
2. Frisco Hypoallergenic Shampoo with Organic Aloe for Puppies. Unscented
Check the latest reviews here on Chewy.com
- Dye, scent, and paraben-free
- Natural organic aloe vera
- Designed to be hypoallergenic
- Natural oils, vitamins, and minerals
- Tear-free formula
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Can you use baby shampoo on puppies?
Yes, you can use baby shampoo on puppies. Baby shampoo is the only safe alternative to specialized puppy shampoo and can be used on puppies.
If you are able to use a specialized puppy shampoo, this is still recommended over baby shampoo.
Baby shampoo is usually very mild and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals and added fragrances like regular human shampoo.
Human shampoo is terrible for puppies and dogs because the Ph level is too acidic for their skin.
Regular human shampoo will destroy the acid mantle of your dog’s skin which leads to serious health issues. Source
Related Article: Does Baby Shampoo Kill Fleas on Dogs?
How to dry a puppy after bathing
The best way to dry your puppy after bathing is to place a clean dry towel on your lap, scoop him up and give him a good pat-down.
This can oftentimes spark a lot of excitement and playtime, which is good as you want to build a positive association with bathing.
Make sure you get as much moisture off him as possible, this will speed up the process and ensure your puppy doesn’t get too cold.
Like I have mentioned throughout this post, puppies are not able to regulate their own temperature very well so you need to do your part.
If your puppy stays wet for a long time after bathing, this could lead to them getting very cold, and in severe cases lead to hypothermia.
The best way to avoid this is to pat him down with a towel until he’s almost dry to touch, then keep him inside in a warm room.
Can I let my puppy air dry?
A lot of people ask if letting your puppy or dog air dry is a good idea. It is an option perhaps for older dogs but for puppies, you really need to get the moisture out of them as soon as possible.
A puppy won’t be able to stay warm if you just leave him after bathing and this could lead to hypothermia in the worst of cases. Using a towel is a safer option.
A time where air drying is a better option is if your dog has an issue with their skin, or has rashes or wounds.
You’ll want to reduce irritation to that area and rubbing a dry towel could make the problem worse. In these circumstances, letting your dog air dry would be a better option.
If you need to let your dog air dry make sure they are kept in a warm room inside your house, or outside if its summer and the temperature is high
Why doesn’t my dog like baths
Despite everything so far being about bathing as little as possible, it’s still important to get your puppy used to bathing. Why doesn’t my dog like baths? is a problem for many dog owners and can be avoided fairly easily.
Usually, if a dog doesn’t like bath time, it’s because he didn’t receive enough baths when he was a pup or that he had bad experiences of bath time.
Your puppy will ultimately need baths in his life, so although it’s good to only bathe when necessary, it’s still important to at least introduce it.
The best ways to ensure your dog will like bath time when they are older:
- Use the correct temperature of the water
- Bathe inside your house, to begin with
- Use a puppy friendly shampoo
- Be gentle, slow and dry carefully after
- Have fun with him, try to make it a game and get his toys involved
Can a puppy take a bath after vaccination?
It is recommended by veterinarians that your puppy waits 1-2 weeks after vaccinations before they take a bath. This is because vaccinations weaken the immune system, and the stress of taking a bath could be too much for the little one, making him ill.
For most puppies, taking a bath is a new sensation that they adjust to slowly. Allow your puppy to be at his best before you go to bathe him.
This is also similar for bathing before vaccinations. If your puppy is due to have a vaccination in the next day or two, it’s not worth the risk of bathing him, especially if it’s his first time.
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