When can you bathe a puppy

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As a new puppy parent, you may be eagerly waiting to give your little furry pal their first shower. But not so fast!

While you are curious to immerse your young pup in a moderately filled bathtub, you should also know the best time for introducing this routine, for their safety and health.

Keep reading this post as we explore the optimal age for bathing your puppy for the first time, the factors that influence it, and how best to bathe your puppy in simple steps.

Watch out for our helpful tips on the do’s and don’ts when introducing your puppy to the bathing routine.

Factors Affecting the Appropriate Bathing Time for Puppies

Before giving your puppy their first bath, there are several factors you need to consider for their own safety and comfort.

1. Breed-specific considerations

Different dog breeds have a distinctive coat type which needs different grooming routine.

Some breeds, like Golden Retrievers, have a double coat and they may require a more frequent bathing routine to deal with shedding and for hygienic purposes.

Single-coated dogs, like Pitbulls, have a single layer of fur, and they can stay for quite a while between baths.

You need to know your puppy’s breed, hair type, and grooming needs before deciding the right time for their first bath and their subsequent grooming routine.

2. Size and age of the puppy

After considering your puppy’s breed, you need to look into their size and age when making the critical decision of taking them for their maiden shower.

Younger puppies have sensitive skin and they may require special care during baths to maintain their coat health and prevent irritation.

Puppies of small breed dogs are relatively tinier than other breeds, and they may need special attention during their cleaning procedure.

3. Health and medical conditions

Puppies with common canine skin conditions or health problems may require special attention from the vet before receiving their first bath.

Your vet may recommend specific medicated grooming products to deal with your puppy’s skin issues while cleaning the coat.

When Can You Bathe a Newborn Puppy?

The best time to start bathing your newborn puppy is when they are eight weeks or older.

Before this age, a newborn puppy does not self-regulate body temperature because of their delicate puppy coat. This means that they can get too heated or too cold when dipped in bathing water.

A girl bathes a Maltipoo puppy in the bathroom
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Risks and challenges of bathing very young puppies

Bathing your puppy too early may get them too chilled and they can struggle to warm up afterward. This increases their chances of becoming sick.

Taking your young furry pal to the shower before the right time may also increase their stress levels leading to water inhalation or suffocation in severe cases.

The immune system of newborn puppies is still developing, and it is not until they’re about six months old that their immunity to diseases becomes fully matured.

Bathing your young pup too early may increase their likelihood of getting an illness because of the fluctuating body temperatures.

Safe alternatives for cleaning newborn puppies

As you wait for your newborn puppy to grow stronger in readiness for their first bath, certain circumstances may require you to clean them up, for instance when they roll mud or sloshy solid foods.

Despite having the temptation to rush your young furry pal to the bathtub, you shouldn’t give them a water bath before the right time.

You can instead use puppy cleaning wipes to wipe down the soiled areas on your pup’s coat. A warm piece of cloth may also get the job done but you need to rub it down a few more times.

Consulting a veterinarian for advice

Based on your puppy’s skin condition and overall health, you may need to consult your vet for tailored advice on when to start bathing your young dog.

Your vet will look into your puppy’s situation by diagnosing the possible skin conditions before working out a solution.

You may need to use a puppy-specific medicated shampoo during cleaning for the best results.

Bathing A Puppy in Their Early Months

Taking your young canine friend to the shower can be a fun and satisfying experience when done at the right time and in the right manner.

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You can follow the steps below to introduce your furry friend to water, and give them a smooth bathing experience:

Introduction to water and bathing gradually

Before bathing your puppy for the first time, it’s crucial that you introduce them to water in a controlled environment.

You can do this by filling a bathtub with lukewarm water to the puppy’s paw level and allowing them to walk inside at their own pace.

This should make them feel more comfortable in water and it will make the bathing experience much more rewarding.

Once your canine friend starts to create a positive association with water, you can increase the level but never go past the knee height.

How often should you bathe a puppy?

The frequency of bathing your puppy may vary depending on the breed, lifestyle, and coat type. But generally speaking, most puppies will need a bath at least once a month.

When can you bathe a puppy
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However, if your puppy is active and gets into messy situations frequently throughout the week, you can bathe them more frequently, or wipe them down between baths.

Make sure to monitor your dog’s skin condition with every bath to ensure they are not suffering from any skin condition.

Using puppy-specific shampoos and products

We recommend using puppy-specific cleaning products for bathing your little furry pal to ensure safety and convenience.

Products such as mild puppy shampoo are purposely formulated with natural ingredients that are gentle on the puppy’s delicate coat.

We also suggest using a dog brush with soft bristles when gliding through the puppy’s coat before and after the bath.

How To Bathe a Puppy In 10 Steps

Step 1: Start by gathering your supplies in one area for a smooth bathing experience. Some of the most common products you will need are puppy shampoo, a soft brush, cotton wool, and a clean soft towel.

Step 2: Furnish the floor of the bathroom area or sink with a non-slip mat. This will help keep your young dog in place during the process and prevent them from slipping.

Step 3: Brush through your puppy’s coat with the soft-bristled brush to remove all debris, knots, mats, and tangles.

Step 4: Cover your puppy’s ear canal with soft cotton wool balls to prevent water from getting into the ears. Wet conditions inside the ear canal may favor the growth of bacteria and cause infections.

Step 5: Use a hand-held sprayer at low pressure to wet your puppy’s coat with lukewarm water inside the bathtub or sink. Make sure the water height in the bathtub doesn’t get past the dog’s knee level.

Step 6: Apply a small amount of puppy shampoo and lather it gently into their delicate coat, starting from the neck and working your way down the body towards the tail and feet.

Step 7: Gently rub the lathered coat using your hands for about five minutes while paying attention to the area prone to collect dirt, and avoiding the face.

Step 8: Rinse down the coat using a hand-held sprayer at low pressure to remove the shampoo ensuring that no residue is left behind. You can use a warm cloth to wipe down the puppy’s face to remove dirt, then remove the cotton balls from the ears

Step 9: Wrap the puppy using a clean soft towel and gently pat them to soak in the moisture. Wrapping the entire body also helps to cover the puppy from the instant cold felt when coming from the shower.

Step 10: Reward the clean puppy with high-value dog treats, and praise them for staying calm through the bathing session.

It is not unusual to encounter problems during your puppy’s first experience with lots of water. Never bully your dog to get across the shower against their wish.

They may end up creating a negative association with water, which will brew more problems as they grow up.

If your puppy is becoming restless during any step of the process, it may help to calm down the situation by turning it into a fun activity. You can pet or give them a toy to restore calmness.

Special Consideration When Bathing Puppies

1. Bathing puppies with skin conditions

Great care should be taken when bathing puppies with skin conditions. Aim for medicated grooming products that will handle the skin with care.

Your vet may also advise you to pick gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo specifically made for delicate puppy coats.

These shampoos will help soothe your puppy’s skin while bathing and will not cause further irritation.

It’s always advisable to avoid products made with harsh chemicals and even more so when bathing a puppy with skin issues.

During bathing, we recommend being gentle with the puppy’s skin and avoiding rubbing it down with too much energy.

Make sure to massage the skin softly with enough shampoo to ensure a stress-free bathing experience for your young pup.

2. Handling fear or anxiety during baths

The best way to handle your dog’s fear and anxiety when bathing them is by being patient and gentle during the entire session.

Start by creating a rewarding experience in the bathroom area by petting and playing with your pup as they get comfortable with water.

You can also use the brushing session to massage through the puppy’s coat while speaking to them in a gentle voice to ensure their safety.

Make sure to offer the puppy tasty treats before, during, and after the bathing session to reward their calmness.

3. Grooming techniques for specific coat types

Different coat types will require different grooming techniques while bathing to maintain their appearance and skin coat health.

Puppies with long, curly fur will need extra brushing to straighten the fur before wetting with lukewarm water.

Puppies with a single coat and short fur may need extra gentle touches when rubbing them down to lather shampoo due to their nearly-exposed delicate skin.

Puppy Bathing Do’s and Don’ts

1. Use lukewarm water

Using too hot or ice-cold water may be uncomfortable or even dangerous for your little furry pal. Make sure you use lukewarm water when bathing your puppy.

Ideally, the water temperature should be similar to what you may use for bathing a little baby. You can use your elbow to test the temperature of the water before using it on your pup.

2. Being gentle and patient with your puppy

Taking your young dog to the shower area for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. It is therefore on your part to be gentle and patient with them during the process.

When can you bathe a puppy
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You may need to speak to your pup in soothing tones and offer them some treats to ensure their safety during the session.

Make sure to be slow and gentle on your puppy’s coat. Avoid rubbing them too hard since it may overwhelm their delicate skins.

3. Drying and warming your puppy after the bath

We suggest using a clean, soft, absorbent towel to wrap and gently pat your furry friend after the shower session. This will help to prevent chills caused by excess moisture in the coat.

Covering the puppy with a towel also helps to retain body heat immediately after bathing, which is important in keeping them calm and healthy.

If the weather is too cold, you may use a blow dryer in low heat to dry the coat and keep the puppy warm after the bath.

What Not to Do

1. Using human shampoo

Never use human-specific grooming products when bathing your puppy. Products such as human shampoo are formulated for the human’s skin (acidic) and not the dog’s coat (neutral).

Human shampoo is too acidic for the dog’s coat and may cause an imbalance in their naturally neutral mantle.

Some human shampoo also contains harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde, that may dry or irritate the dog’s skin during and after a bath.

2. Overbathing

Be careful not to over-bath your young canine friend, since excess water may strip natural oils from the skin, causing dryness and irritation.

3. Ignoring signs of distress

Bathing your puppy is not just about cleaning, it’s a great time for you to inspect your dog’s skin for potential irritations and other issues.

Disturbing a dog with painful skin conditions may cause them to show it off through signs of distress such as trembling or trying to escape.

Bathing your puppy during such as moment may cause further distress and aggravate the skin condition to cause more pain.

It’s crucial to observe your dog’s behavior and step back when you notice any sign of distress during a bath.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I bathe my 2-month-old puppy?

Yes! A two-month-old puppy is strong enough to stand through the cooling effects of a bath.

Make sure to use the right puppy-specific products and inspect the skin for any issues before proceeding with the process.

2. My puppy is afraid of water, what should I do?

Introduce the puppy to lukewarm water in a controlled environment by letting them explore it on their own terms.

A good way would be to fill a bathtub or sink just above the puppy’s paws and let them walk inside while exploring freely and playing inside.

You can make this process rewarding for the dog by tossing them gently inside the bathtub or sink and rewarding them with some treats to reinforce a positive experience.

Once your puppy starts to lose the fear of water, gradually increase the water levels in the bathtub but never go past the knee height.

3. Can I use regular shampoo to bathe my puppy?

There’s no harm in using regular dog shampoo to bathe your puppy, but we recommend sticking to puppy-specific products.

Regular dog shampoo may lack the necessary natural ingredients for soothing sensitive skin and delicate puppy coats.

Some regular dog shampoos may also be too abrasive for the puppy’s coat, and they may end up irritating bathing.


Bathing your little furry friend is not only a proper way of caring for their hygiene, but it also presents a valuable bonding time to strengthen your relationship.

It’s recommended to wait until your puppy is at least eight weeks old before giving them their first bath.

Early showers before this age may be dangerous because of the delicate puppy coat that does little to regulate body temperature.

You can use a warm piece of cloth or pet cleaning wipes to clean your puppy before they’re ready for the first bath.

Otherwise, the puppy’s mother will do a lot to groom their young ones by licking them when they’re not heavily soiled with mud or dried solid foods.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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