Bathing puppies This article is verified by a vet

Veterinary-verified content
Written by Franziska Gütgemann, vet

The joy surrounding a new puppy is huge and we animal lovers usually concern ourselves at the start of the new friendship with subjects like diet, great toys or the right training. It's often the case that we only ask ourselves whether and how puppies can be bathed when they first jump in a muddy puddle. All important information is summarised in the following article in order to answer this question for you:

Puppy skin

As the largest of all organs, the skin of our puppies regulates heat balance, acts as a protective barrier against mechanical and physical stimuli and assumes an important role as a sensory organ with the perception of pressure, pain and warmth. It is therefore vital for our puppies and must be protected from harmful influences. Hence, the skin is surrounded by what is known as a lipid layer. On one side, these lipids (e.g. fats) have a hydrophilic head and on the other a hydrophobic tail in order to protect the skin from environmental influences and drying out.

May I give my puppy a bath?

In contrast to us humans, puppies don't need to take regular baths with soap or shampoo for grooming. The coat and lipid layer of the skin lend our puppies a natural cleansing mechanism, so to speak, by allowing small particles of dirt to pass from the skin via the hairs to the surface of the coat. However, a bath is unavoidable in some cases if our puppy has played deep in the mud or messed up a plot in the garden, though puppies should be given baths as little as possible in order to protect the skin. The more often a puppy's lipid protection is attacked with grooming products, the quicker skin irritations can flare up, which are distinguished by reddening and increased itching.

puppy bath

How do I correctly give my puppy a bath?

You can focus on the following points so that your puppy associates bath time with something positive and isn't scared of the bathroom in future:

  • Many bathtubs and showers have a very smooth surface, on which your puppy can easily slip. In order to prevent this, you can put in a non-slip mat before their bath.
  • It is important to create a pleasant atmosphere for your puppy as soon as they enter the bathroom. Having a bath should become a normality for your dog, so you should make sure to offer a calm, relaxed atmosphere before its bath. Entering the bathroom and bathtub can also be rewarded with treats.
  • You should always check the temperature of the water on the back of your hand beforehand so that your puppy isn't scalded or frightened by too hot or too cold water.
  • Make sure to put the water stream on a gentle setting and keep it as far away as possible from your puppy's eyes. This also applies with grooming products, which can severely irritate the eyes.
  • Start with the legs and gradually work towards the chest and stomach. From there you can carefully remove dirt from the back and finally from the neck and head region by massaging it out.

What grooming products do I need?

It's not always necessary to bathe puppies with grooming products. It's often sufficient to massage dirt out of the fur with normal water. If a bath without grooming products isn't enough, a special dog shampoo for puppies should be chosen. These puppy shampoos are more suitable for sensitive puppy skin than conventional grooming products, since manufacturers use a pH value that is gentle on the skin and non-irritating ingredients.

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