Just like a human baby, puppies need special care, too. This includes feeding her the right stuff and cleaning her with products appropriate for a puppy. Before you lather up with some random household products, it's best to familiarize yourself with what is and what isn't safe.
Is Baby Shampoo Okay?
Baby shampoo is generally easier on the wallet than most dog shampoos, but is it safe? It depends upon your dog as well as the type of shampoo. According to Dr. Cary Waterhouse, owner of Lake Union Veterinary Clinic, it is safe to use a gentle, unscented, clear baby shampoo to bathe most dogs. More important is the frequency in which you'll be using the shampoo, as well as the ingredients of the shampoo. (Always make sure to choose a brand that is unscented, clear instead of one with added colors or fragrances.) As long as you’re not over-bathing your pooch with the stuff, a dog with healthy skin and coat washed about every four to 8 weeks should do ok. If you wash your dog more frequently than this, it's best NOT to use any shampoo for humans, but a gentle shampoo formulated specifically for a dog your age. Also, dogs and puppies needing special attention because of fleas or skin conditions should not use human shampoo. Consult your vet for the best options for your dog.
How Often to Bathe
You don’t want to wash your pooch too frequently, regardless of what kind of shampoo you’re using. This will strip the natural, beneficial oils from her coat. It also can dry out the skin, causing it to itch. Your puppy may start to scratch the skin, which can lead to inflammation, skin abrasions and possibly bacterial growth. Starting at 3 or 4 weeks of age, you can start giving her baths. Bathe your puppy no more than every 3 to 4 weeks, although waiting every few months is better.
Why Not Use Regular Shampoo for Adults?
Adult shampoo is designed specifically to work with the acidity of a person’s scalp. Since adult human skin is more acidic than a dog’s skin, regular shampoo has stronger pH balancing agents in it than is needed to cleanse a dog’s skin properly. Therefore, it is too harsh for use on dogs. Baby shampoo is formulated to be gentler than regular adult shampoo. This is due to a baby’s skin being much more sensitive than an adult’s skin. Since the baby shampoo isn’t as strong or harsh, it is safer to use on a puppy's delicate skin.
Though many dog owners have found success with using baby shampoo, you should always consult your vet or dog groomer before using it regularly for your particular dog.
By Susan Revermann
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Groom Your Dog
King5: Is it OK to Wash Your Dog with Baby Shampoo?
Pet Place: Bathing Your Puppy
Dog Channel: When to Start Bathing a Puppy
About the Author
Susan Revermann is a professional writer with educational and professional experience in psychology, research and teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in psychology, focused on research, motivational behavior and statistics. Revermann also has a background in art, crafts, green living, outdoor activities and overall fitness, balance and well-being.