small brown and white puppy in bath

When and how to bathe a puppy

Puppies are curious adventurers who may encounter their fair share of muck during playtime. A happy dog is a messy one! Keeping your puppy clean promotes a healthy coat, strengthens your bond together and helps with shedding and allergies.

Many new owners often wonder how to bathe a puppy and how often to bathe a puppy, so we have created this handy guide to cover all the basics. 

When can you bathe a puppy?

When can you bathe a puppy? It is recommended to start bathing your new puppy after 8 weeks of age. By this stage, your puppy can regulate their temperature and warm their bodies properly after a bath. You should then aim to bathe your puppy at least once a month after their first bath time, depending on what messy escapades they get up to.  

For a quick refresh, you can use a damp washcloth to wipe away dirt or debris from your pet’s face, paws and coat. 

It is important to wash your puppy with a puppy-friendly shampoo formulated for their PH balance. Conditioners should be included for breeds with long fur to manage or detangle. Adult dog and human shampoo will be too harsh on a puppy’s skin. If you are unsure about what products to use you can consult with your vet for their expert recommendations based on the breed of your puppy and their fur type. 

You should also have puppy combs and brushes handy, as well as a good towel. 

Puppies can visit the groomer for bathing or additional grooming treatments once they are 10-12 months old. You should aim to familiarise your puppy with the groomer at this age as any delay could cause your puppy to be anxious during visits. 

How often should you bathe a puppy?

How often should you bathe a puppy? There are several factors to consider when deciding when you can bathe a puppy. Firstly, you should always ensure your puppy is ready for their first bath as some puppies may be more anxious than others. Your puppy should not be bathed before 8 weeks of age and after this, you should aim to wash them once a month. Overdoing bathing may cause dry coats or skin problems, so utilise a washcloth in between washes. 

Understanding how and when to bathe your pet is key to avoiding unnecessary stress, skin or coat issues. 

Bathing your puppy checklist 

Bathing your puppy doesn’t need to be stressful, stay calm, be patient and make sure you have everything on our checklist before you start. 

  • Puppy shampoo and conditioner 
  • Puppy comb or brush
  • Safe and quiet space to bathe your puppy
  • Towel

How to bathe a puppy: step by step guide

Need some more tips and tricks to ensure your puppy’s first bathe goes swimmingly? Our step-by-step guide is here to show you how to bathe a puppy properly. 

Step 1: Brush your Puppy

You should begin by grooming your puppy’s coat to loosen any dirt and remove knots. 

Step 2: Prepare and place your puppy in the bath

Make sure the temperature of the water is lukewarm. Then prepare the bathing area, it should be in a quiet and safe space. Use a washcloth to wash them down gently to see how they react while they are in the bath before moving on to the shampooing stage. Dampen the puppy's body, legs and paws first - avoid washing their head as getting water in the puppy's eyes or ears will be unpleasant and the aim is to make bath-time a positive experience.  You can clean a puppy's face with a warm, damp face-cloth.

Step 3: Soak and Shampoo Puppy

It’s time to create some suds and wash the dirt away gently, slowly and calmly. Use a small amount of your puppy-formulated shampoo and work it into their fur, use a small plastic cup to wash away the lather with more lukewarm water from the bath. Remember to avoid getting soapy water in their eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Repeat with conditioner. 

Step 4: Dry Puppy

Dry off your puppy with a clean soft towel. You can also use a hairdryer on a very low setting to help dry their fur. Give plenty of treats and praise to reward the puppy and create a positive experience!

Bathing your puppy FAQs

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions section on bathing your puppy below!

When should a puppy have its first bath?

When can you bathe a puppy? You should start bathing your puppy after 8 weeks of age when they can properly regulate their body temperature. It is important to wash your puppy with a puppy-friendly shampoo and conditioner as dog and human products will be too harsh for their sensitive skin. Be gentle and take your time as they may be anxious.

Bathing your puppy for the first time is an important experience for them and will set the tone for all future bath times. You should wash your puppy once a month after their first bath and keep a routine. Washing your puppy promotes coat and fur hygiene which contributes to a healthy pup, it also combats unwanted odours. Washing your puppy too often can lead to skin and coat issues, so be careful not to overdo it! 

Should you bathe a puppy when you bring it home?

If your puppy is over 8 weeks old you can wash them after you bring them home. We suggest letting your puppy settle into their new surroundings before bathing them.

Bathing your puppy too early is unsafe as they cannot regulate their temperature before 8 weeks and may become ill. Bathing your puppy regularly once they are old enough is important to ensure they maintain their healthy skin and coat. Bathing your puppy also helps remove strong odours. 

Can I use a hairdryer on a puppy?

You can use a hairdryer on a puppy however you need to be very careful and introduce them to it gradually before using it on them. Use exposure therapy to help your puppy become comfortable around the noise of a hairdryer. Turn the hairdryer on in the room with your puppy a few times until you think they are used to the sound.

When you think your puppy is comfortable with the sound of a hair dryer, use it slowly on a low setting on less sensitive parts of their fur at first, such as the base of the neck. Keep the nozzle several inches away from their fur. You can also use treats and positive reinforcement to help soothe them during the drying process. 

How do you clean a 4 week old puppy?

You should never bathe a 4-week-old puppy as their bodies cannot regulate their 

temperature properly. Instead, you can use a soft washcloth with lukewarm water to clean their faces, bodies, paws and fur very gently. Only clean the areas that are dirty and avoid getting their whole bodies wet. Avoid any soaps or shampoos when they are this young. 

Bathing your puppy for the first time doesn’t have to be stressful as long as you prepare beforehand, ease your pup into it and keep reassuring them! You can also use positive reinforcement with James Wellbeloved™ Puppy Food after you have cleaned your puppy so they associate good memories with being washed too.

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