How to Bathe a Dog After She's Given Birth

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Medium
10 - 20 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

Ginger, a young female Golden Retriever, has just had her first batch of puppies. She is a proud, although somewhat inexperienced mom. Her owners trimmed the hair on her backside and belly before she had puppies so, fortunately, there is not too much of a mess on her fur, however, some amniotic fluid, blood, and afterbirth are stuck to her.  She is doing her best to clean up after herself, and her puppies, but it’s a lot to handle for a new mom!  

Can her owners bathe her? How should they bathe her? 

You will want to clean up after your dog has puppies. Both your dog and the whelping area should be as hygienic as possible. However, bathing a momma dog immediately after she has given birth may not be the best idea. It is better to wait a few days, give your momma dog time to attend to her puppies and recover from labor and delivery. You can clean her up with spot cleaning and replace soiled bedding for her and the puppies for the first few days, and provide a more thorough bath when momma has had a chance to settle in.

Dog's Perspective

Your momma dog is tired after giving birth, and highly focused on her puppies. If you remove her to bathe her, she could become anxious for them. Plus, newborn puppies chill very easily. They need their mom's care, milk, and body heat in the first few days. Also, during the time immediately after giving birth your dog and her puppies bond with each others' scent. A bath can be disruptive to this process. Chances are, immediately after having pups, your dog is more concerned about them than being clean, however, within a few days, most mom dogs will appreciate a bath to get rid of body fluids from whelping. Wait at least 2-5 days after giving birth to bathe your momma dog, and keep her time away from pups as short as possible.

The Spot Clean Method

Effective
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Scissors
Towel
Step
1
Clean area
After your dog has given birth, carefully remove afterbirth by hand and replace bedding that has become soiled during whelping with clean, dry materials.
Step
2
Be considerate
Wait for puppies to finish nursing so as to cause minimal disruption when changing bedding and cleaning your mother dog. Take your cues from your dog, if she seems agitated with the cleaning process, take a break and return later to complete cleaning her and the whelping area later.
Step
3
Spot clean
Wet a face cloth down with warm water and wring it out so it is just damp. Avoid using soaps or detergents. Wipe your dog between her hind legs and on her backside, working away from the mammaries and the vagina so as not to contaminate these areas.
Step
4
Dry throughly
Dry your dog with a towel. Avoid getting your dog very wet, as damp fur can get puppies damp and cause them to chill.
Step
5
Remove excess hair
Trim any excess hair around the backside or mammary glands that was not removed prior to birth, and is becoming soiled. Continue to spot clean your mother dog and change bedding as required for a few days, as she produces discharge after having puppies. Wait for a few days before giving your mother dog a regular bath.
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The First Full Bath Method

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Shampoo
Dryer
Towel
Step
1
Pick a good time
Wait until your mother dog has finished nursing her puppies so they are likely to go to sleep and be content, and empty mammary glands are less likely to expel milk during bathing.
Step
2
Handle carefully
Place your momma dog in the tub. Wrap your arm around her chest and backside to avoid putting pressure on her abdomen when lifting. Have a rubber mat in the tub so she does not slip. She may be anxious about leaving her pups, so have everything ready so bathing doesn't take longer than necessary. You may want to close the bathroom door so she does not try to escape, unless this makes her more anxious.
Step
3
Wet down
Wet your momma dog down with a handheld shower or by pouring water over her.
Step
4
Gently shampoo
Use a gentle, non toxic dog shampoo and work through your dog's hair, being careful not to press on the mammary areas, which may be tender and can result in milk being expressed.
Step
5
Rinse and dry
Rinse thoroughly so no residue is left on your dog's hair that could come into contact with nursing puppies, and dry thoroughly with a blow dryer before returning your dog to her pups. A wet mom dog can get her pups wet and cause them to become chilled.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Do not use medicated shampoos or harsh detergents, which can make pups sick if residue on mom's fur is ingested during nursing.
  • Pups can chill easily. Keep them warm while mom is away, keep her bathing time short, and dry mom thoroughly before returning her to her pups.
  • Choose your time well, wait until pups have just finished nursing so mammary glands are empty and don't leak during bathing and pups are content for a while and likely to sleep.
  • Figure out what makes mom least anxious about leaving her pups. Close the bathroom door if out of sight out of mind works best, or place pups nearby where your dog can see them if that makes her the most comfortable.
  • Make sure you use a rubber mat and avoid putting pressure on your dog's abdomen where her mammaries are producing milk.

Conclusion

Momma dogs have a lot to worry about, but will usually include cleaning up their bed, puppies and themselves in their maternal duties. Still, your dog may need some help with her bathing and house cleaning duties. You can clean up your dog's bed after she has her pups and provide clean dry bedding, and wipe her down with a damp cloth to clean away body fluids and afterbirth immediately after she gives birth. Avoid a complete bath until several days after she delivers her pups. When giving your dog her first bath after puppies, pick a time when puppies have their bellies full and mom has her mammary glands empty, handle your new mom carefully, and make sure gentle shampoo is thoroughly rinsed and your dog thoroughly dried so she won’t get her pups wet and chilled.

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