Puppies love to explore and as they take their first walks, they’re bound to end up with mucky paws, coats and tails! Here we share our tips for bathing a puppy for the first time and help you to find the most appropriate pet shampoo for your pup.
Preparing to bathe a puppy
The UK’s experiencing a puppy baby boom as the rising number of people working from home has seen more of us welcome a dog into the family. You might have prepared their puppy cage, their pet bed and their food bowls, but now it is time to prepare their grooming products.
A bath routine for a puppy needn’t be over complicated. All you’ll need for your puppy’s first bath is:
- A natural pet shampoo
- Warm water
- A grooming brush
- A baby bath
- A soft pet towel
- A flannel
- Plenty of puppy rewards
Which pet shampoo for a puppy?
Pet skin has a different pH level to human skin and cannot always tolerate the same ingredients so it is absolutely essential that you purchase a pet shampoo for your puppy and that you do not bathe them with shampoo products designed for human skin.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a dog shampoo for a puppy is the scent. Scent is incredibly important for puppies and they use it navigate, find food and to bond with other animals. Using too heavily scented pet shampoos made with artificial fragrance could not only interfere with this, but it could also cause irritation to delicate puppy skin.
For a safe and natural puppy-safe shampoo, choose the allPaws Scent Free Sensitive Dog Shampoo. This ultra-gentle pet shampoo is free from parabens, fragrance and SLS and is suitable for all breeds of puppy.
How to shampoo a puppy
Before you shampoo your puppy, make sure you are starting with a comfortable, happy dog. Offer plenty of positive associations with the bathtime experience so your pup learns that baths are a good thing.
- Remove your pup’s collar and place them in a secure space with access to running water, such as a bathtub
- Use a shower head or a jug of lukewarm water to wet their coat thoroughly
- Dispense a small amount of pet shampoo onto their coat and gently work it in to create a lather
- Disperse the lather from the neck to tail using gently massaging motions, taking care to avoid the delicate inner ear and eyes
- Use a soft flannel to clean their face
- Rinse the lather away using warm water and towel dry the coat dry using a soft, clean towel
TOP TIP: Like all newborns, puppies have a lot of growing to do and your pup might not have established a thick fur coat that can withstand a lot of pet shampoo. Only use a little amount of dog shampoo to bathe a puppy and to protect their delicate skin. Always opt for a gentle, organic dog shampoo that is free from skin irritants such as SLS.
When to bathe your puppy
Very young pups should not be over washed. Puppies then need only be bathed with a pet shampoo once they start to head out on their walkies. For most pups, this will be after they’ve had their inoculations, at around the age of 11-13 weeks old. If younger pups get muddy in the garden before then, simply wipe clean their muddy fur, paws and face with clean water and a flannel.
The frequency that you need to bath your puppy really depends on the breed of dog that they are. A long muddy countryside dog walk will initially be a bit of a stretch for little puppy legs, but once they are confident in their paws, some breeds will naturally be more predisposed to going longer walks where their natural instinct may be to bound through muddy puddles and dip a paw or two into smelly water.
Drying them off with a clean microfibre towel as soon as you finish your walk will help to dry off any excess water and clean up muddy paws. If the pup’s coat is noticeably muddy or there is a distinctive aroma to their fur, it’s time for a fur-freshening dip in the bath.
Where to bathe a puppy
In very warm weather you can use an outside tap and clean sponge to cleanse the fur and cool pups down, but this will be far too cold most of the year. During these periods bathe your dog in warm water and make sure they have a fresh, clean bed ready to snuggle up in as they dry off. You may find your dog prefers warm baths all year round.
You might wish to sponge clean your pet to avoid over washing them but if you have a bath in the house, you can bath your dog there. Always make sure the plug is always out so that the water drains away and does not fill up around your dog.
A big bathtub may be overwhelming for a small pup so you can also bathe your puppy in their very own bathtub. A standard plastic baby bath will be fine for this but if you have a young infant, make sure you have separate baby baths for your pet and your child.
What to expect when bathing a puppy for the first time
Puppy’s first bath is a learning experience, and they might react to this in different ways. Some dogs love the water and will sit obediently in the bath. However other dogs can find bathtime stressful and may resist getting in the bath, have a little accident in the water or tremble slightly as you cleanse them.
This may be their away of expressing anxiety but can also mean that they are cold. Thoroughly towel drying them after their bath will help you to comfort and calm their nerves and warm them up before they settle down in their cosy, clean pet bed.
The other thing to expect is to get a soaking! A bath is not a natural experience for a dog, and you can expect them to shake their fur to dispel the water from their coats. One they are out of the bath they may roll around or lick their coat. This is normal and something they do to reinstate their doggy smells to their skin.
Some dogs maybe overstimulated by bath time and will rush around their living space. It is also normal for them to sulk in their bed or to want to sleep this stressful experience off.
If your puppy scratches their skin or licks their paws excessively after their bath, this could mean that something in the pet shampoo has irritated their skin and paw pads. Synthetic ingredients such as skin-drying alcohols, SLS, colourants and fragrances can all irritate the skin and if your dog’s skin is noticeably irritated by bath time, you may want to consider switching their shampoo or discussing this with their vet.
Looking for advice on choosing shampoo for a new puppy?