Pregnant dog care can include seeing a groomer just as much as any other dog, but you must be careful to limit her physical and emotional stress to keep the puppies as happy and safe as possible. You should not be afraid of bathing her, but be watchful of the pressure placed on the abdominal area, especially if she has to be lifted in and out of the tub. A grooming setup with a ramp or steps so she can enter and exit the tub on her own would be ideal.
How often can I bathe my pregnant dog?
Frequency of grooming varies from breed to breed. Some dog breeds, like poodles, doodles, cocker spaniels, and Shih Tzus, should be groomed on a set schedule. However, other breeds, like Labradors, boxers, or border collies, may be able to go longer between baths. Bathing too frequently can actually cause the skin to become too dry.
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Brachycephalic breeds, like pugs and French bulldogs, that exhibit a large amount of folds in the dog's skin may need to be cleaned more frequently with a wet rag and some shampoo or wipes made specifically for skin folds to avoid hot spots or yeast infections.
Depending on how close she is to her due date, you may not be able to safely bathe her. It is important to continue a normal grooming routine throughout a dog's pregnancy, typically leading up to a final bath one week before she is due to whelp. However, you should limit baths for any mother dogs who find it difficult to stand for long periods of time or if bath time in general causes her stress.
How to bathe a pregnant dog
Attach the spray attachment to your water spout in the tub if you're doing this at home. Turn on the hot water and add cold until the temperature is just above room temperature. Pregnant dogs should be bathed in warm water that is a little cooler than you find ideal for a bath.
Pick up your female dog by placing one hand under the tail area or between the hind legs and one hand under the chest. Lift both ends equally and gently sit her inside the bathing area, whether it be a tub or pet store bathing stall. Be sure to have a nonslip surface in the tub to help give her traction. Spray water over the entire body until the fur is soaked through.
Gently lather your dog, rinse, and repeat
Apply an ample amount of dog shampoo to your hands and briskly rub them together. Now, apply the shampoo over the dog's coat. Avoid the eyes unless your shampoo specifically says it is tearless and safe for use around a dog's eyes. Use your fingers to rub the shampoo into the mat of the fur to cleanse at the skin level. Make sure not to scrub the genital area with shampoo, as this can cause irritation that could lead to an infection in pregnant dogs.
Rinse the shampoo out of the fur completely using the spray attachment, avoiding getting water in her eyes and ears. Cup your hand over the top of the dog's eyes to avoid shampoo residue being washed into them. Use the suds that are left on your hand to gently wipe from front to back in the genital area to cleanse and then rinse completely, making sure that her mammary glands and teats are cleared of any leftover soap residue.
Drying a pregnant dog
Lay a yoga mat or towel on the floor so she can rest on a nonslip surface. Pick up your dog by placing one hand under the tail area or between the hind legs and one under the chest to lift out evenly and place her on the nonslip surface. Use another towel to start at the head and dry away the residual water. When drying the abdominal area, gently wipe from side to side until the water is gone.
Be sure to gently wipe any skin folds and the ears until they are dry. If you do not own a doggie blow dryer, you can use a human hair dryer on a warm setting to help dry her coat while you brush her to avoid any tangles or mats. Depending on the length and density of the coat, this may take longer than she can physically tolerate.
You can finish the dog grooming with a nail trim and ear cleaning if needed. Just be sure to go easy with them.
The bottom line
Pregnant dogs need grooming just as much as any other dog of their specific breed, but precautions must be taken to ensure that the dog remains as calm and safe as possible during the bath. Go slow, use care when lifting and shampooing her, give her a nonslip surface for traction, and make sure that she is not forced to stand for too long.