Once your dog has given birth, it can be very tempting to give her a bath and clean her right up!
After all, most human mothers rejoice at the opportunity to take a shower after such a tumultuous ordeal. However, bathing your dog right after she gives birth can be problematic in a few ways.
You should wait to bathe your dog for at least three weeks after birth, as soap can be toxic to puppies, which need lots of care. In the meantime, use a wipe or washcloth to gently clean mom and change whelping box bedding. When bathing, use warm water and non-scented, no chemical soap with no hard rubbing.
In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about cleaning your female dog up after she gives birth, from the do’s and the don’ts to the best techniques to utilize!
Keep in mind that you should still be consulting with your licensed veterinarian and not just rely on my word.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Birth leaves with it a trail of ickiness if I can put it so bluntly.
From blood and ooze to all sorts of negative things, it’s definitely a very messy business. As such, it can be tempting to bathe your female dog immediately and get her into tip-top shape. But wait!
Firstly, mother nature knows best. Female dogs desire to keep themselves clean and mitigate the mess immediately after having the puppies, so part of the work is already naturally being done by the mother.
Your female dog will do this in between her new busy schedule of tending to newborn puppies, who truly need her tremendously.
Speaking of puppies, it’s advisable to not separate the mother from her puppies for some time. The mother dog has hormonal and instinctual desires to continue round-the-clock care for her little ones, and interrupting this schedule can cause problems.
For one, the mother will be very reluctant to leave her babies, causing much stress. Secondly, the puppies need her milk, warmth, and licking to help with their digestive systems.
Third, the mother will continue oozing mucus and liquids out of her vulva for about three weeks after giving birth. As such, immediate baths become a bit obsolete since she will find herself soiled again shortly afterward.
Finally, soap, shampoo, and other cleaning fluids can harm newborn puppies. It’s advisable to avoid the risk of puppies coming into contact with soaps that can be fatally toxic to them. This is especially an issue as puppies are in constant close contact with their mother through drinking milk.
Now that we’ve established that it is best to wait at least a week (if not more) before bathing your female dog, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep things clean and tidy.
After she gives birth, get into the routine of regularly changing the towels, bedding, and lining of the whelping box.
Because she will continue to ooze liquid and puppies do soil themselves, keeping this area tidy and fresh becomes key in preventing bacterial infections from forming. It’s a good idea to have linings on the ready so that this process doesn’t take a long time!
Next, you can use gentle wipes or a warm washcloth (ensure they have no chemicals or residues on them for the puppy’s sake) to wipe down your dog’s birthing area and vulva while she is tending to her puppies.
This not only allows her to remain close to her babies, but you can help gently keep her clean. Make sure not to rub, just gentle swipes away from her reproductive organs.
Once it is time to bathe momma dog, here is how you should properly do it.
Remember to keep timeliness and gentleness at the forefront of your thoughts and tactics. Hormones will dictate that she will likely not want to leave her puppies, so don’t expect it to be easy!
It’s not worth the stress, so if you find her reluctance causing a lot of grief, it might be worth waiting a little bit longer. However, if she is more eager to come along and it is not causing any sort of distress, go ahead and put her in the bath.
Run gentle warm water over her and use the most minimal, safe soap and shampoo you can find.
No chemicals, fragrances, nothing. Basic, basic, basic - like you would bathe a human baby!
Also, avoid any sort of hard scrubbing or heavy petting; she is still recovering from birth and needs gentle hands.
Once soaping is done, rinse her off and keep rinsing until you are sure the soap or shampoo residue is entirely gone (especially around her nipples, where the puppies would be nursing).
The primary thing you want to watch out for when bathing a dog that has recently given birth is to ensure that there is no harmful residue left on her body that puppies can swallow.
This is why picking the most organic soap becomes essential, as well as thorough rinsing to ensure nothing is left on her body (especially her nipples).
It is best to pick a bath time when her mammary glands are empty of milk, as the puppies will likely sleep and not need to nurse soon after the bath is over.
Of course, during bathtime, you can also do a full visual examination of your female dog to ensure everything is looking good.
If your female is bleeding, appearing in distress, or something doesn’t look right - give your vet a call immediately and have the mom dog checked out!