Brian Faulkner - BSc (Hons), BVM&S, MBA, MSc(Psych), MRCVS

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How do I bath my puppy?

Brian Faulkner - BSc (Hons), BVM&S, MBA, MSc(Psych), MRCVS
Reading time: 3 minutes

Bathing your puppy should become a fun and routine event, however it can be a bit daunting at first. There are a few things to consider and prepare to make it effective and enjoyable for you and your puppy. Here are the most commonly asked questiong when it comes to bathing puppies.

How often should I bath my puppy?

This will depend on how frequently your puppy gets dirty as well as their breed and coat type/length and other factors. All dogs benefit from having a bath as it helps promote healthy skin and coat condition, as well as preventing bad odours. However, don’t bath your dog too frequently because this can be as bad for their skin as not bathing.

Some people bath their puppies monthly others only a few times a year, a common sense approach is normally best for deciding how frequently to bath your puppy.

Where should I bath my puppy?

Many people use the shower or bath, but others choose to use a large bucket or a baby bath. There is no ‘right’ answer but it pays to give some thought to where will work best for you.

How should I bath my puppy?

Get everything ready in advance; dog shampoo, plenty of towels and anything else you will want. Also think about what you’re wearing, you’re going to get wet! Make sure you use a dog shampoo, it is better suited to your dog’s skin than human shampoo, even baby shampoo can cause skin irritation for your puppy.

Brush your puppy thoroughly before the bath, this will get knots and dead fur out and make the bath easier and more effective.

Get the water temperature right, lukewarm is the safest option, your puppy is unlikely to like the water as warm as you do for a bath, but if the water is too cold your puppy may not enjoy the experience.

When bathing your puppy get their coat thoroughly wet through, puppies can be alarmed by high pressure water so it is normally best to have the water running gently. Use your hands to make sure the water is getting beneath the outer layer of the coat, this is especially important in long and thick coated breeds.

Apply the shampoo and lather it in, follow any instruction on the dog shampoo you are using. Your puppy will want to shake off the water when their head is wet so start with their body and finish with their head avoiding your puppy’s eyes and moutRinsing well is essential; take time to make sure all the shampoo is removed. If shampoo is left behind it can cause skin problems so it is worth an extra rinse just to be on the safe side.

How should I dry my puppy?

Drying is also very important. Let your puppy shake off, it’s their natural way of drying. This is another thing to consider when you choose where to bath your puppy, where are you happiest for them to shake off?  After they have shaken off, take them out of the bath and to your drying area. Have a towel on the ground and wrap them in other towels. Get them as dry as you can, including their inner fur. Make sure you dry the harder to reach spots like their inner leg and under their tail etc.

Any other top tips?

You may want to include treats in the process to make sure your puppy sees it as a positive experience, and stay calm even if your puppy squirms throughout and makes it difficult, reprimanding them for doing so may mean they form negative associations bathing which can cause issues in the future.

If your puppy shows signs of skin irritation speak to your vet. It may simply be that you need to change to a different dog shampoo in future but as with people your puppy could have an allergic reaction so don’t hesitate to contact your vet if you are concerned.

Brian Faulkner - BSc (Hons), BVM&S, MBA, MSc(Psych), MRCVS

Brian graduated from Edinburgh Vet School in 1995 and worked in mixed practice before studying for an MBA at Nottingham Business School in 2000/2001. After setting up and developing numerous veterinary practices in Suffolk in the 2000s, Brian was awarded the Petplan-UK Vet of the Year in 2008 after having been runner-up in 2007. Brian is currently the Petplan Pet Insurance media and PR vet and works in his own small animal veterinary practice 3 days a week. During his 20 year career Brian has worked in over 250 veterinary practices as a clinician, consultant and confidence coach.

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