Puppies can have a full bath starting at the four-week mark. There are exceptions especially since most puppies are born under dreadful circumstances. If you rescue a puppy or litter of puppies born as strays, they will be dirty and flea-ridden. It is imperative that these puppies get an initial bath. However, there is a method to getting rid of those fleas on very young puppies.
Another Way to Clean Your Puppy
You can take a warm, damp cloth, and gently rub it in a circular motion all over the puppy’s coat. Keep a bowl of warm (not hot) water to dip the cloth into. You can add a small amount of gentle puppy shampoo to the water but make sure to have a second bowl of clean water and a fresh cloth to wipe off the shampoo.
Have a large, fluffy towel ready to receive the puppy. Dry him off and then place him in a bed where he is insulated with dry, soft blankets. Use another blanket to cover him so that his body warmth doesn’t escape.
Dirty, Flea-Ridden Puppies
First, set up your cleaning station. Then grab a friend or family member. Carefully cleaning a squirming pup requires assistance. On your kitchen counter or wherever you have the most space, ready your “bathtubs.” Mixing bowls are the perfect sized basins for your little newborn pup.
You’ll need your gentle puppy shampoo, a flea comb, cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, and two big towels. Get the dog beds ready to receive the puppy after he is bathed. Hooded beds are best but you can also put the dog bed in a crate. Line the beds with soft, fleecy blankets.
Place the puppy on one of the towels and very gently comb for fleas. The comb teeth should go in the same direction as the hair growth, held parallel to his body. After each stroke, use a cotton ball moistened with the alcohol to clean the fleas off the comb – but do not let the alcohol get on the puppy’s skin. Immediately throw the towel into the wash with bleach added.
After you’ve removed the fleas, fill each bowl with warm water. The water should be the temperature of a baby’s bath. Add the shampoo to one of the bowls. Submerge the puppy’s body into the soapy water and have your assistant gently hold the head to keep it above water. Do not let his head get wet. Lightly massage the puppy’s coat in the bath for about a minute. Then place him in the second bowl with the clean water. Move the water around to get the soap out of the hair. Place him on the second towel and gently dry him off. Put him in the bed, away from drafts or cold air. Cover him with the fleecy blankets to warm him up. Even in summer, a bath and a wet coat puts him at risk of hypothermia.
What to Watch Out for
Puppies, like most mammalian babies, cannot self-regulate their body temperatures. They are at extreme risk for hypothermia. They are also at risk of hyperthermia and injuries if you use bathwater that is too hot or use a hairdryer carelessly.
For this reason, always check the temperature of the water you are using. It should be just a tiny bit warmer than your skin. The normal body temperature of a puppy is about 96-97 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, use a thermometer – the water temperature should be no higher than 98-99 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s best to fill the bowls with hot water and then wait until they cool off enough to bathe the puppy. Use the water quickly; you don’t want the puppy in water that has cooled down too much either.
It’s best to use towels to dry off the puppy and then place him in warm, insulated bedding. There are heated beds made especially for kittens and puppies. But if you must use a hairdryer, make sure you have it on the lowest setting. The hairdryer must constantly be moving around; you cannot have it concentrated on one area of the puppy’s body for even a half-second. If you’ve ever dried your own hair or gone to the hairdresser, you know that the hairdryer can burn your skin. A puppy’s delicate skin is more sensitive than your adult skin – so please take care not to injure this precious little creature.
By Gabrielle Allemeier
About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.