When should you bathe your puppy?
Getting your puppy used to baths will stand you in good stead as they get bigger and harder to control. But how often should you bathe them? It’s important to strike the right balance between keeping them fresh and clean and potentially over-bathing them.
Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or you need a refresher, it’s important to learn how regularly to bathe a puppy and what you need to get the job done well.
Puppy bathing questions
When should you give a puppy their first bath?
Some breeders and shelters give puppies their first baths before they send them off to their new homes, as it’s safe to do so from the age of 4-6 weeks. When you get a puppy as a pet, they should be at least 8 weeks old, at which point it’s perfectly safe to bathe them right away. That said, it’s a good idea to give your new puppy a week or two to settle in before you attempt to bathe them, because you’re a stranger to them at first and baths can be stressful for dogs.
Whether it’s their first bath ever or their first bath in their new home, start slowly to avoid putting them off bathing for life. Invite them into the bathroom and give them treats for a few days before you attempt a first bath to create a positive association with the bathroom. Never bathe young puppies outside with cold water, as they get chilled easily.
Can you bathe a puppy too much?
Yes, you absolutely can bathe a puppy too much. Dogs have natural oils in their coats that do a great job of self-cleaning. Overly frequent bathing disrupts these oils and can dry out the skin. It’s fine to give your puppy an occasional extra bath if they roll in something nasty, but avoid excessive bathing just for the sake of it.
How often should you bathe a puppy?
Bathe your pup once every 4-8 weeks. It’s fine to go as long as 3 or 4 months between baths in adult dogs, but getting your puppy used to them at a young age will make it easier when they’re older.
What you need to give a puppy a bath
Now that you know how often to bathe your puppy, you just need to gather the right supplies. Having everything you need on hand makes the bathing process much simpler.
You should use puppy shampoo rather than standard dog shampoo when bathing your pup. These are designed to be extra gentle so they won’t irritate your puppy’s delicate skin. Many have “tear-free” formulas that don’t sting the eyes, though you should avoid shampooing their face anyway. Don’t use human shampoos on puppies, if you can avoid it. In an emergency, it’s OK to use baby shampoo as a one-off, as it’s gentler than shampoo for adults, but it still doesn’t have the correct pH balance for canine skin.
Assuming you don’t want to dry your puppy on the same towels you use to dry yourself, you should have a selection of towels just for your dog. It’s fine to use any old towels you have lying around, but if you don’t have towels you’re no longer using, dedicated dog towels are often made from microfiber, so they’re extra absorbent.
The first few times you bathe your puppy, you might need an extra person on hand to feed them treats as a distraction. This helps keep them calm and happy and can create a positive association if they know every time they get a bath, they also get plied with treats. If you don’t have someone who can continuously feed your pup treats, you can get lick mats with suction cups so you can adhere them to your bathroom tiles. You smear pastes such as peanut butter on them and it keeps your dog entertained.
Although it’s not 100% essential, you might want a rubber brush to help work the shampoo through your puppy’s coat, especially if they have medium or long fur. These brushes also massage the skin to improve blood flow and scratch any itches your pup might have.
You can buy shower attachments specifically for dogs. These have longer heads than regular shower attachments so you can wet and rinse your canine companion more quickly. The less time it takes to bathe your dog, the easier it will be, so they’re worth investing in. You can use them in your bathroom or outside, but remember not to bathe young puppies with cold water, even on a hot day.
What to buy to bathe a puppy
Its extra-gentle, tearless formula makes it the ideal choice for puppies. It leaves their coat soft, shiny and smelling great.
This rubber brush helps work shampoo through the coat and gives your puppy’s skin a massage at the same time.
This shower attachment gives you better coverage so you can rinse your puppy off more quickly and easily. You can use it indoors or outdoors, but only attempt the latter on hot days with older puppies and adult dogs.
This is a large, highly absorbent towel that’s perfect for drying puppies off after a bath. It’s machine washable and fast drying, so it’s easy to clean between uses.
Where to buy: Sold by Chewy
If you need a distraction for your pup, simply smother this lick mat in peanut butter or similar, stick it to a tiled wall and keep them entertained while you bathe them.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.