You've caught your little four-legged companion nose deep in the trash again and need to wash the ketchup off his puppy nose, but you don't have shampoo made specifically for puppies. Is it safe to use regular dog shampoo on your puppy?
Well, you can use regular dog shampoo on a puppy as long as it does not contain harsh chemical additives. Medicated shampoos, however, are a different story. Before you douse him with your older doggie's flea shampoo or even your own scented brand, you need to consider a few things first.
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Adult dog shampoo
If puppy shampoo and conditioner aren't an option, you can use gentle products that are meant for adult dogs. Stay away from medicated dog shampoo, such as flea and tick shampoo, as that stuff is way too strong for a little one. For puppies who scratch excessively, ask your vet about the best shampoo for dogs with skin issues.
If you decide to use a dog shampoo instead of a puppy shampoo, choose a high-quality one, as cheaper versions can be too harsh for a puppy and can degrade quickly upon opening them. Keep away from ones with strong perfume and fragrances. These can irritate sensitive skin.
Puppy shampoo and conditioner
Though it's safe to bathe a puppy in gentle, non-medicated dog shampoo, a high-quality puppy shampoo is the best shampoo for dogs when they're young and have delicate skin. This is a mild cleanser that is specifically designed for a puppy's skin and coat. These will either be unscented or have a mild, natural scent, such as oatmeal or lavender.
Shampoo and conditioner aren't recommended until your dog is three months old, but you can start bathing him in lukewarm water at two months so he can get used to the experience. Bath time can feel strange to a puppy and you want it to be a pleasant experience throughout his life.
Avoid human shampoo
Regular human shampoo isn't the best shampoo for dogs. Since human skin and scalp are more acidic than a dog's, products meant for humans have stronger pH balancing agents than a dog or puppy shampoo and conditioner. A dog's skin is more alkaline and needs a milder shampoo. Human shampoo can dry out the skin of puppies and dogs, causing itching and irritation. If your little guy starts to scratch at the area, it can also cause skin abrasions where bacteria can start to grow and inflammation can occur.
If your dog really needs a bath but you can't get your hands on a shampoo that's meant for dogs, using human shampoo on your dog one time is probably okay. Avoid harsh chemicals as much as possible and try to choose one that contains natural ingredients such as aloe vera, colloidal oatmeal, and tea tree oil. These ingredients are less likely to cause irritation. Make sure you rinse well to get rid of all the residue.
Puppy bathing tips
Give him a good brushing before you bathe him and regular brushing in between baths. This will remove loose hair, dirt, debris, and mats from his hair. Use warm water and massage the puppy shampoo into his coat gently. Work your way from his head back toward the tail, massaging him with your fingertips. Rinse thoroughly with warm water from a spray hose or a plastic pitcher.
Keep the water away from his eyes, nose, and ears. Wash those areas with a damp washcloth. Towel-dry him the best you can before he wiggles out to shake the remaining water all over your walls. Offer praise and treats for good behavior throughout the bathing procedure. Keep calm and patient as you bathe him and make this a pleasurable experience for both of you.
How often you should bathe your puppy depends on a few factors such as lifestyle, coat, and health. If your puppy is smelly, has rolled around in something dirty, or has soiled himself, it's definitely time for a bath.
Generally, your puppy should be bathed with a puppy shampoo and conditioner or regular dog shampoo and conditioner at least once every three months. Otherwise, when you notice that your puppy feels dirty or smells "doggy," a bath is a good idea. In special cases, your vet may recommend more frequent bathing and the best shampoo for dogs with allergies.