When Can You Bathe A Puppy, How Old (Plus 9 Bathing Tips)

when can you bathe a puppy

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When can you bathe a puppy? How often should you bathe a puppy? How old does a puppy have to be to get a bath?

These are questions that often come to mind for new puppy owners. While the answers may seem pretty straightforward, they depend on a lot of factors. 

If you want to know at what age can you bathe a puppy, this guide covers the perfect bathing age, how to shower your puppy, provide you with expert puppy bathing tips, and more to ensure a happy, healthy, and clean pup.

When Can You Bathe a Puppy?

So, how old can a puppy be to take a bath? There is no set age at which a puppy should receive his first bath. Generally, it’s advised to bathe your puppy once they are 6 weeks old or older.

However, most puppies are prone to get dirty and smelly, which means you may have to expedite your puppy’s first shower. If this happens and your pup is younger than 6 weeks, before putting a single drop of water on your puppy, use bath dog wipes and/or a warm cloth to clean him up.

According to veterinarian Destini Holloway from PetCoach, puppies can regulate their body temperature after just 1 to 2 weeks old, so there is no danger to get your puppy wet.

However, it’s better to wait until your puppy is a bit older to avoid complications, such as getting water into your puppy’s lungs.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Puppy?

So, how often should you bathe a puppy? The answer: It depends.

For instance, active dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors rolling around in things should shower more often than dogs who spend most of their time inside the house.

Your puppy bathing routine will depend on several factors including:

  • Coat length and type: Shorter hair often means your dog is less susceptible to trapping dirt and debris, which translates to less frequent baths. On the other hand, long-coated or medium-coated dogs will require extra brushing, including the frequency of the baths.

    Puppies with natural oily coats will typically require regular bathing to remove excess oil and unpleasant odors resulting from the oiliness. Be sure to use a dog shampoo for oily coats.

    Puppies with water-repellent coats (i.e., Golden Retriever puppies) should have a more moderate bathing schedule to maintain their natural oils.
  • Puppy activity level: If your puppy is constantly outdoors, roaming around your backyard playing in puddles or stepping on stuff he shouldn’t, he may end up needing more baths than puppies that have a sedentary lifestyle.  
  • Skin condition and health: Some puppies have skin allergies or other health conditions. If this your dog’s case, speak with your vet. He may suggest a medicated shampoo along with a bathing regiment.

Giving your dog a bath as frequently as once a week is considered perfectly safe for most dogs according to Terese DeManuelle, a veterinary dermatologist from Portland, Oregon.

However, if your puppy doesn’t seem to need a bath, bathing them once every three months or a couple of times a year may also be just fine.

If you are uncertain about how often to bathe your puppy use your nose and eyes. If your dog starts to smell and looks not huggable, it’s probably time for a bath. 

The Don’ts Of Puppy Bathing

Keep these puppy bathing don’ts in mind when washing your puppy.

  1. Avoid over-bathing: Bathing your puppy every day or several days a week can be detrimental to your puppy health. It can irritate the skin, damage hair follicles, and increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections, according to  Dr. Adam Denish of Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Elkins Park, Penn.
  2. Human products: Shampoos or soaps formulated for humans (adults and babies) have a different pH and can irritate your puppy’s sensitive skin. Don’t use human products on your dog.
  3. Don’t be careless: Be very diligent when washing your dog’s head. Shampoos and other products, even if made specifically for dogs, can cause an adverse reaction on Fido. Ingestion of pet shampoo can cause symptoms like vomiting, drooling, and decreased appetite, Dr. Denish says.
  4. Never leave your puppy alone while the water is running. He could drown, scald, or get into an accident when not supervised.

How To Bathe A Puppy: 9 Tips

How do you bathe a dog correctly and make sure he is happy and willing to take a bath again in the future? Follow these simple steps to make bath-time enjoyable for you and your puppy.

1. Determine Coat Needs

A puppy’s coat requires specific skincare products. Some dogs have “double coats” (the outer coat plus an undercoat). Other dogs have water repellent coats. The type of shampoo and conditioner you use will depend on what type of fur your puppy has. Research your dog’s coat-care needs and talk to your veterinarian to find out the most suitable product for your puppy. This will serve to minimize potential coat problems and hygiene issues. 

2. Gather All The Supplies

When buying shampoo, conditioners, and other products for bathing a puppy, make sure they are formulated for dogs. To avoid skin irritation or allergic reactions, select all-natural products with no additives or chemicals. Avoid selecting cheap products. Paying a little extra for high quality and safe product is often better.

Make sure you have these items as well:

  1. Two rubber mats to place inside and outside the tub. This will stop your puppy from slipping and sliding
  2. Cotton balls to gently place them in your puppy’s ears to prevent water from going inside them
  3. Bathtub drain hair stopper to catch loose hair from going into the drain
  4. Dog hairbrush
  5. Towels and, or blow dryer made for dogs
  6. Pitcher or nozzle to rinse your puppy

3. Positive Reinforcement (Treats)

More than a step this is a concept to implement. Every positive behavior while showering your puppy should be rewarded with treats or assertive praise such as “good dog”. This combination of positive reinforcement will progressively teach your dog that bathing isn’t scary.  

4. Where to Bathe a Puppy

Consistency and positive association is key in this step. You want your puppy to always relate his bathing spot with a happy and fun experience.  

A puppy will shower just fine in the kitchen sink or bathroom. For a larger breed puppy, a walk-in shower or a regular bathtub is the best place. There are also bathing puppy tubs you can purchase.

If the weather is very warm you can bathe your puppy outside. Just make sure the water from your garden hose or faucet has the appropriate temperature. Puppies will chill rapidly. You can use a tub or baby bathtub or even a kiddie pool.

Avoid the grass or yard for obvious reasons. You don’t want to create a puddle of mud when bathing your pet.  

5. Brush Your Puppy

Often overlooked by pet parents, brushing your puppy is one of the most important parts of puppy bath time. 

Before even turning on the water, brush your puppy thoroughly to remove tangles and knots. Be really gentle when brushing, specifically in areas such as the armpits, groin, or ears. The fur in those areas tends to create firm knots. Brushing without looking can hurt your dog. 

If a foreign object (i.e., gum) is stuck on your dog’s fur, use scissors to trim it—cutaway from the skin to avoid accidents. 

Pro Tip: Brushing time is also the perfect opportunity to check for bumps, wounds, fleas, and other abnormalities that could mean a bigger health issue.

6. Use The Right Water Temperature

Never use burning hot water to bathe a dog. It will burn your dog’s skin.

So, can I bathe my dog in cold water?

It’s not recommended and most dogs don’t find it fun. Lukewarm water is ideal and will ensure your puppy’s time in the tub is a positive one. What it’s optimal for bathing a newborn baby should work perfectly for your puppy.

Bishop-Jenkins, an international certified master groomer, says, “dogs’ body temperatures run higher than ours. Their experience with temperature is different from ours.” This is why it’s important to have the appropriate water temperature when bathing Fido.

7. Puppy Bath Time (Start From Botton to Top)

Assuming that you have taken care of steps 1 to 6, get ready to start washing your puppy.

Puppies, like babies, aren’t used to being bathed. You need to be gentle.

  1. Get your puppy in his bathing spot.
  2. Use a very soft stream of water to wet your puppy gradually.
  3. Lightly lather the shampoo in a circular motion. Rub in it thoroughly. Start with their paws and work your way up. Leave face for last. Pay close attention to places prone to dirt such as armpits and tail.
  4. Wash your puppy’s face separately. Avoid the eyes as much as possible. Even tearless shampoos can irritate your dog’s eyes. Be careful with the nose and mouth. “Dog’s external ear canal is L-shaped if water gets down there, it gets trapped and causes ear infections,” says Bishop-Jenkins. It is advised to a washcloth dipped into lukewarm water to wash a puppy’s face and limit the product amount around the face.
  5. Rinse your puppy. Start from the head and work your way down. Rinse more than once until all the suds and shampoo residue disappears.

8. Drying The Puppy

After the splish-splash fun is over, immediately wrap him in a dry towel. Gently rub the towel against your puppy’s fur to dry him up. If you want to speed things up, you might want to use a dog blow dryer.

Set the blow drier on a low setting and at a reasonable distance from your dog and constantly moving to avoid burning your puppy with the hot air.

9. Reward The Experience

After the bath experience is over, you also want to reinforce your puppy’s good behavior with his favorite treat so he can associate bathing with a happy memory.

9 Steps To Bathing Your Dog (Infographic)

Follow these nine steps for bathing a puppy in visual format to easily reference.

Watch A Puppy Get His First Bath

Check out this video to see an experienced dog dad bathe Husky puppies using some of the tricks and techniques in this post.

Common Problems

Here are some of the most common problems when bathing a puppy.

What if my puppy won’t sit still during a bath?

For a puppy to remain calm during bath time, teach him to associate the experience with good things. The first treat should always be given when your pup gets in the tub. You can use treats along the entire bathing process. 

A good trick to get your pup to sit still during a bath is to use a lick pad. Just stick the pad to the side of the tub and add peanut butter. This little puppy bathing hack should keep your puppy busy and happy during the shower so you can focus on cleaning.

What is my puppy is scared of water?

Start with small exposure. Dip your finger into water and let your puppy smell it or lick it. If your pup seems calm, praise and proceeds to run your wet hand over your puppy’s fur. If he reacts well, praise again. Gradually increase water exposure over multiple weeks. A warm cloth or wipes are good tools to introduce water to your puppy. 

Can I Give A Puppy A Bath Without Water? 

So, how to bathe a puppy without water? There are a few options to contemplate. 

Use bath dog wipes for a quick and hassle-free bath. These specially made wipes for dogs will remove bacteria and unpleasant odors.

It’s always good to carry wipes for unforeseen accidents that could make your dog smell. Your second option would be waterless dog shampoos. Simply apply it to your dog’s coat and rub the product off and let it dry without rinsing.

You can also sprinkle baking soda and rub it gently from neck to paws, not the face. This product soaks up any bad odors. Let sit for a couple of minutes then brush. 

While these tips for bathing a puppy seem easy and quick, be careful with eyes or breathing passages. Always consult your veterinarian to determine what’s appropriate for your dog’s breed.

Puppy Bathing FAQ

What Age Can You Bathe a Newborn Puppy?

The optimal age to bathe a newborn puppy according to our research and expert groomers is 6 weeks old. While all bathing needs of puppies vary depending on different factors and breed, once they’re 6 weeks old, they should be fine with a full shower. However, you need to assess the frequency and establish a proper puppy bathing schedule. Remember not to over-bathe and use our guide above to bathe your pup correctly.  

Can I Bathe My 9 Week Old Puppy?

Yes, bathing a 9-week old puppy is safe. He is old enough and well over the bathing threshold to have full baths.

Can You Bathe a Puppy at 8 Weeks Old?

Bathing an 8-week old puppy is possible. It’s safe and doable to give him a full shower. If he is not too dirty, you can use dog wipes or a lukewarm washcloth to clean him up. Use our ten-step guide above if you decide to bath your furry friend.  

Can You Bathe a Puppy at 4 Weeks Old?

Are you wondering if you can bathe a 4-week old puppy? While a full-on puppy shower is not recommended, at this age, it is good to introduce water gradually. A 4-week old puppy is best to be cleaned using a wet washcloth or puppy wipes.  

Can You Bathe a Puppy at 3 Weeks Old?

A 3-weeks old, a puppy is too young to experience his first bath. Don’t bath your 3-week old puppy. Puppies at this age only need gentle cleaning around his face and potty area. 

Can You Give A 2-week Old Puppy a Bath?

At two weeks old puppies have just started to be able to regulate their body temperature. It’s not advice to give a bath at this early age. Wait a couple of weeks more, ideally until six-week of age.

How Old Does A Puppy Have To Be To Get a Bath?

There is no set age. It’s generally advised to bathe puppies when they are 6 weeks old or older. However, it’s at three weeks old they can safely get wet as puppies can regulate their body temperature after two weeks of age. We advise to wait as long as possible to avoid any complications.

Other Ways To Improve Your Puppy’s Quality Of Life

Improving the hygiene of your puppy is essential, and dogs enjoy being clean, just like people. We hope this guide serves you well to get you on the right track when it comes to puppy bathing.

If you are curious about other ways to improve your dog’s lifestyle and health, CBD oil for dogs can be a viable option for puppies and dogs who experience anxiety, chronic pain, and even cancer. We invite you to read our CBD for dogs’ guide to learn more. 

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