We all know the common rhetoric that hooman babies have a heavenly scent, but what about their furry, four-legged equivalents? With all the excitement of bringing home your first pup, the last thing you might is expect is for them to be a bit pongy. In reality, with all that playing, rolling around, and play-fighting, it makes sense. But when can you bathe a puppy and when is it too early? Today we’re going to answer this impawtent question and give you some tips on how to prepare for your puppy’s first spa day.
Why You Shouldn’t Bathe a Puppy Too Early
Before we dive into the answer to “when can you bathe a puppy for the first time?”, let’s first talk about why you shouldn’t rush into it too soon. Until around 8 weeks old, puppies haven’t fully developed the ability to self-regulate their body temperature like older dogs. This makes it difficult for them to warm up once they’re cold i.e. from bath time. Their immune systems are also not as powerful, so exposing them to cool water and other potential irritants and bacteria can risk them getting sick.
Puppies have delicate skin that can be easily dried out by harsh soaps and shampoos. They also have natural oils on their skin that helps to protect them, and washing them too often can strip this oil away.
For these reasons, it's generally recommended that you wait until your puppy is at least 8 weeks old before giving them their first bath.
When Can You Bathe a Puppy For the First Time?
As we mentioned, the general rule of thumb is to wait until your puppy is at least 8 weeks old before giving them their first bath. At this age, they will have developed a stronger immune system and proper thermoregulation to better equip them to handle the stress of a bath. From 8 weeks on, puppy bath time should be kept to less than one bath per month to prevent skin irritation and stripping your dog's coat of too many essential oils.
If your puppy has a medical condition or skin issue that requires a bath earlier, consult with your vet before proceeding.
Top Tips For Your Puppy’s First Spa Day
Now you know the answer to the impawtent question of “when can you bathe a puppy?” let’s dive into what you’ll need for your puppy’s first spa day and exactly how to give your pup a bath.
The Shopping List
- Puppy Shampoo: Unfortunately your standard Herbal Essences can’t be used for your pooch. This is because your shampoo is designed for hooman skin which is more acidic than your pup’s so using this can disrupt a dog’s acid mantle leaving them vulnerable to parasites, bacterial and fungal infections. Pick up a dog-safe shampoo, one that is designed for puppies or sensitive skin will be ideal.
- Brush: Before and after your dog’s bath, they’ll need a good brush to detangle, remove grit, and prevent matting of their fur. Make sure this is a gentle or puppy-specific brush so you don’t irritate their sensitive skin.
- Towels: an obvious one, to dry them after their bath so they don’t get cold.
- Delicious Healthy Treats: Your pup’s first bath might be a bit scary for them. It’s a new sensation particularly if they haven’t been near water before. Make sure to pick up some delicious natural puppy treats like these Softies Chicken and Duck Dog Treats to reward them after their bath. This positive reinforcement will help them get better acquainted with bath time making it an easier and more enjoyable process for you and your furball.
How To Give Your Puppy Their First Bath
Step 1: Brushing
Start by brushing your pup’s fur gently to remove grit or dirt and detangle any knots. Take extra care around the armpits, legs and tails as this is where most dirt gets trapped and matting occurs.
Step 2: Prepare the Area
For larger pups, it’s easiest to give them a wash in the bath. For smaller cuties, using a bucket in the backyard is totally fine. Lay out your puppy shampoo and towels ready to go for their spa day. Bring the water to the right temperature, this should be warm but not hot. Avoid using cold water to reduce the risk of your pup getting sick.
Step 3: Bath Time
Now you’re ready to go! Thoroughly wet your pup’s fur with warm water and gently massage the directed amount of dog-safe shampoo into their coat. Be careful not to get any in their eyes, ears, mouth or nose. As this is their first bath it’s probably a pretty scary time for them, so make it enjoyable by giving them a nice massage, distract them with their favourite chew toy and reward them with their favourite healthy treats. You can leave the shampoo on their coat to soak in for up to five minutes and then rinse.
Step 4: Dry
Quick, stand back and let your pup shake shake shake! Then gently but thoroughly dry their fur and skin. If it’s a warm day they might want to go and bask in the sun but if you’re giving them a bath after a muddy winter walk you can use a hairdryer on a low, cool setting to dry them completely.
Step 5: One Final Brush and Treat
Finish off with one final brush to prevent their fur from matting and of course a treat to reinforce their good behaviour.
So, there you have it. From 8 weeks of age, it’s perfectly safe to bathe your puppy for the first time. Make sure to follow our step-by-step guide to make this process an enjoyable one for you and your pooch.
If you’ve recently added a pup to your fur-fam and are looking for a high-quality nutritious puppy food, check out our range of gut-friendly dog foods or head on over to our library of dog and puppy articles for more helpful blogs on puppy life and dog nutrition.