This post was most recently updated on December 22nd, 2018
With their small bodies, what can go wrong with puppy grooming? It may look easy, but getting the little pooches bathed and brushed can be trickier than doing it on adult dogs. Some coats simply need more TLC than others. On this post, we will help you deal with brushing, bathing, and other grooming staples like ear, dental, and anal care. But first, let’s pick the best shampoo:
|PUPPY SHAMPOO||PRODUCT NAME||EXPERT|
|Earthbath Tearless |
|Burt’s Bees No-Tear |
Start them early, as many dog owners say. I can’t agree more to this since the earlier you familiarize your pet to puppy grooming, the easier it will be in the future. I’ve been to so much stress (and soap suds) with my adopted pooch because he hates bath time. This is exactly what I want you to prevent from happening.
What age to groom a puppy?
The rule of thumb is to never groom a puppy if he hasn’t weaned from his mother yet. Aside from the fear, it’s also not wise to subject their still frail bodies to bathing. Let the pup get used to your presence and its new home. My sure bet is around 12 weeks. I recommend that you go easy on the first grooming session, be it at home or at the groomer.
Start with the basics: bath then brush. After that, perform the dental check as quickly as you can.
Imagine grooming a child. Do you expect him to hold up for one straight hour without fidgeting wildly or throwing a tantrum?
Some pup owners opt to groom their puppies when it’s 6 months old. This is a matter of personal preference as well as the recommendation of the veterinarian. However, the older the puppy gets, the more established their aggression and fears become. It will be difficult for you to handle the negative reaction compared to a smaller and calmer 12-week old.
Some reminders before we start
Remember, if this is your pup’s first time to experience grooming, you have to be patient and gentle. This is an unchartered territory. It’s the first time they will feel water on their coat, see suds, or experience physical restraint.
Aside from that, make sure that you develop familiarity. Groom the pup on the spot where you plan to groom him regularly. This will make them feel safe and at ease. You should also start with a short period while increasing the duration in the future sessions. Also, be prepared to give treats to reward good behavior. This positive enforcement never fails to encourage a dog to follow.
Another reminder: think of your pup’s head as the head of a baby. It’s so sensitive that you should practice gentle brushing and bathing.
Still, it doesn’t mean you’re going to skip this part. Watch out for possible ear and eye discharge. If you notice something unusual, head to the vet for diagnosis.
Once you have the tools and materials ready, it’s time to start the first-ever grooming time with your pup:
➕ Bath time
Unlike bathing old dogs, I don’t recommend that you tire your pup before heading to a bath. The pooch will either become sleepy or hungry. And if you feed him, he might also feel drowsy and irritated when forced to bathe.
What I recommend here is to use a non-slip rubber mat. This is so your pooch won’t slip and hurt his self when he starts to fight you off. You can get a large mat so you can also step on it and prevent falls.
Next, wet the coat of your pup gently. Be careful with the face. After that, lather the puppy shampoo and massage it to your pooch’s hair. If your pet has a thick or double coat, take time to finger comb the shampoo with it. Still, stay gentle and slow with puppy grooming.
Most puppy shampoos are tearless so you won’t worry about hurting the eyes. Let the shampoo sit for a few minutes on the pup’s coat before rinsing. Make sure that you get all the suds out.
➕ Drying and brushing
The good thing about bathing a puppy is you only have a small body to dry. I personally don’t recommend using dog dryers for puppies. First, it’s too early to subject their bodies to that, and second, it would freak your dog out.
Stick to the old’ towel by gently massaging the wet coat. Once your puppy is no longer dripping wet, start brushing the coat to remove the remaining moisture. I don’t recommend putting your newly bathe pup in front of the electric fan. It will send the poor doggo shivering and at risk of a puppy cough.
When doing home grooming, I recommend that you skip coat trimming. Leave this part to professional groomers if you don’t want to mess your pet’s look. Just trim the nails, hair around the eyes, and the excess hair around the paws.
Trimming the pup’s nails is important to prevent cracking the paws or painful tearing accidents. Always use a dog nail clipper for this and handle your pup’s paws as gentle as possible. Regardless at what age to groom a puppy, excessive trimming should be avoided.
Take note: never cut your puppy’s nails too short. The upper part of the nails close to the skin is very sensitive. If you snip it too far, the paws will bleed or get hurt easily.
As for trimming the hair around the eyes, I suggest that you do this with an assistant. The nastiest thing that could happen is you poking the little eyes of your pooch. You don’t have to go very near the eye, just work your way around the eyelid.
➕ Dental care
At 12 weeks, your puppy is already starting to teeth. Puppy groomingis a very good time to check how the little daggers are growing. If there is intense bleeding, make sure that you bring your pet to the veterinarian.
There’s no need to brush your puppy at this point (and in my opinion). I just use a soft cloth to wipe the outer layer of my puppy’s teeth. Some owners opt for brushing, but if your pet is loathing it, start slow and basic.
The good thing about cleaning your puppy’s teeth is they love gum stimulation. If you do it right, there should be minimal defiance on the pet’s part.
➕ Ear care
Your pup’s ears can harbor the nastiest dirt. If you leave this uncleaned, an infection will start to form. Make sure that you clean the ears using a special ear cleaner for puppies. Squirt a little, massage the outer ear, and then wipe the solution away. If you notice more dirt coming out after a few days, the solution probably lifted deep-seated grimes. Still, I advise that you consult a vet about this.
Avoid poking your pup’s ears with anything. If you bruise the internal ear walls, an infection may start to form. If the pup is getting wiggly, ask the help of an assistant during puppy grooming.
➕ Miscellaneous grooming steps
Puppies are relatively small in size, but a lot of pet owners overlook one of the biggest parts of puppy grooming. Always check the armpits, rear, and neck. This is crucial if you have a flat-nosed breed. Dirt can hide on the skin folds and result in irritations.
Also, it could be gross, but you have to express their anal glands. This is found just below their tail. It contains a smell that’s unique for every dog. However, the gland can get clogged. If not expressed manually, it can start an infection that will be both gross and expensive to treat.
Using a cloth (you’re planning to throw away after), squeeze the outer wall of the gland. A smelly excretion will ooze out. Make sure to clean the rear after expressing the gland. If you can’t handle this, let a professional groomer or the vet do it for you. Vets are also the good people to ask about what age to groom a puppy.
Best shampoo to use for puppies
Puppy shampoos are different from the shampoos you use for older dogs. It has to be tear-free and way gentler to the coat. Here are 2 picks that I personally used on my pets:
Earthbath Tearless All-Natural Puppy Shampoo
This shampoo from Earthbath is ultra-mild, tear-free, and pH-balanced for the most sensitive puppy. It has a gentle scent of mild cherry that’s fresh enough but not too overpowering. This has Aloe vera extracts, gentle conditioner, and detangler, Vitamins A, B, D, and E for coat health. Overall, this shampoo has very limited ingredients which are great to avoid an allergic reaction.
What I love the most here is that shampoo is soap-free, cruelty-free, and 100% eco-friendly. Although there’s no guarantee that all pups won’t be allergic here, I haven’t had any issues using this to my puppies. It even alleviated their mild itch until it’s gone.
For puppies with lingering skin allergies, I can say that this is a perfect match. It’s gentle and packed with nourishing vitamins that will help the coat recover. Besides, thousands of dog owners have already tried and trusted this. This comes in 16 oz. bottles that are fairly affordable, perfect for economical puppy grooming.
✔️ A very mild formula suitable for almost all pups
✔️ Tear-free and bears a nice scent
✔️ Cruelty-free, soap-free, and eco-friendly
✔️ Makes the coat fluffy and clean
✔️ Lots of suds for puppy grooming
❌ Not best for a very flaky skin. It doesn’t make it worse but it doesn’t cure it either.
Burt’s Bees No-Tear Dog Shampoo
Burt’s Bees isn’t a stranger brand for most of us, and I can say, I’m impressed with their puppy shampoo. This is a 2-in-1 tearless shampoo and conditioner made specifically for puppies. It has honey, beeswax, buttermilk, and various oils that soothe the coat.
Compared to the one from Earthbath, this shampoo doesn’t lather just as much. Burt’s and Bees says that it’s due to the mild ingredients which I and my dog can live with. Besides, it does conditions the hair of my pooches and removes the stink. No matter at what age to groom a puppy, this will be a nice shampoo.
It doesn’t have any fragrance, colorings, sulfates, and other harsh chemicals. It’s perfect for puppies that are allergic to scents and artificial substances. This is pH-balanced that offers gentle cleansing for puppies. It can also be used for adult dogs with sensitive skin.
If your pup has rolled in the mud, stinks so bad, or has itchy skin, this is the perfect shampoo to use. You know what the best part is? The 16 oz. shampoo is only roughly half the price of the Earthbath option.
✔️ pH-balanced with the gentlest ingredients
✔️ No fragrances, coloring, and harsh substances
✔️ Vet recommended
✔️ Very affordable but still excellent in results
✔️ Bottles are made from 80% recycled materials
❌ It doesn’t leave any smell which is an issue with some dog owners who want a fresh scent
When to go to a groomer?
Even though you’re puppy grooming at home, it’s still important to visit a professional groomer at least once every quarter. The expert will do coat trimming and check-ups on the parts you’re cleaning. They can also give advice on how to groom next time and what spots you have to pay more attention to.
If ever you encounter problems during grooming, it’s best to seek the opinion of a vet or groomer. Never shy away from the opinion of the experts.
Do’s and don’ts during grooming
Regardless if it’s professional or home puppy grooming, it’s important to have these points in mind:
➕ Hold your pup’s paws. If this is your puppy’s first time to meet a groomer, having you handling their paws will provide a sense of security.
➕ Touch their ears. Your puppy should get used to this kind of stimulation at an early age. Massage their ears all the time.
➕ Brush regularly. Brushing serves two purposes: keeping the coat and spotting skin issues. It also forms a bond between you and the little doggo.
Puppy grooming doesn’t have to be complicated. Sure, it’s challenging at first but you and your dog will get used to it in a few months. As long as you start early, grooming will serve you a purpose in the future.