Newborn pups are completely helpless and can’t quite bathe themselves yet. While mama should be stepping in and cleaning her infants, sometimes she needs a helping hand. You shouldn’t be bathing newborn puppies every day, although you might need to help Maggie wipe down her brood once in a while.
Role of Mother’s Bath
Maggie has a full day with her new puppies. They nurse every few hours, which is a chore in itself. But then after each feeding, Maggie has to bathe every pup to clean them off, especially if they are messy eaters. Bathing is a special time that allows Maggie to bond with her babies, although she is also coating them with her scent, making her whole brood smell familiar to one another. Her tongue isn’t only a super sponge that removes all the debris, it also helps her babies go potty. While bathing her offspring, she will lick the hind end of each one, stimulating movement in their bowels so they have a desire to relieve themselves.
How to Help
You will want to avoid over-handling puppies for the first two weeks after birth, suggests the ASPCA. However, if Maggie is overwhelmed with her motherly duties and isn’t keeping her puppies clean, you might need to help out during this time frame. Newborn puppies don’t need the traditional soap and water bath at this point. Shampoos can be irritating to their fragile skin and make the puppies smell unfamiliar to Maggie. All you need to do is cradle each pup in a dry towel and wipe away any stuck-on milk with a warm moist cloth. Gently dry them off with the dry towel and perch them back up next to Maggie for warmth. Depending on how dirty they get, you may need to clean them off just once a day or after each feeding
Washing the Back End
If you are caring for orphaned puppies or if Maggie just isn’t stepping up to the plate, you will have to take over the role of helping each pup relieve themselves. Simply cover the tip of your finger with a warm wet cloth and rub their hind ends for just a few seconds after each bottle feeding. This motion mimics that part of a mother’s bath that helps newborns go potty. You will need to do this until they go on their own, generally around three to four weeks of age.
When to Bathe
As long as your vet gives you the go ahead, you might be able to fully bathe your puppies within a few weeks after birth. Generally you only need to bath your pooch about once every three months, although if he spends a lot of time outdoors, he could need more frequent baths, according to the ASPCA. Bathing early is especially beneficial if you have a breed who will require many trips to the groomer throughout his life, like a poodle or a Yorkie. Washing him, focusing on touching his paws and face, makes him feel comfortable with being handled early on in life. When he grows up, he will be easier to groom, whether you trim him yourself or take him to a professional.