Your oohs and aws over your dog's tiny puppies quickly turn to ewws as you notice the ick associated with the miracle of birth. Your dog will tend to her cleanliness as much as she can, but a sponge bath will help freshen her up and keep her healthy.
Between amniotic fluid, blood and various other nether-region oozings, birth is a wet and messy business. Mother Nature has ingrained in animals an almost obsessive compulsion to clean up after themselves during this vulnerable time, minimizing the final mess. You can lend your new mama a hand by keeping her bedding and surrounding area clean. Replace her bedding at least daily and wash the surrounding area with warm water and gentle cleansers to prevent infections.
When To Bathe
Although it's tempting to whisk your Mama dog into the tub the second that last pup appears, resist this urge and let her tend to her babies. There's much to do after her pups join the world, including washing them and ushering them to nurse. Clean the whelping area and change her bedding once she's finished giving birth and let her rest with her brood. Veterinarian Dan Rice recommends waiting until at least a week after your pooch gives birth to give her a real bath. She'll have a gooey discharge for up to three weeks after birth, so plan baths accordingly.
When you think it's time to scrub Mama, you may find her mothering instincts make for a little more reluctant pooch. Be gentle with her and don't force her if she really does not want to leave her puppies. Once you get her into the tub, use warm water and gentle shampoo, such as a human baby shampoo with no chemicals, scents or additives. Remember that her babies are still nursing, and any harsh chemicals, such as those found in flea killing shampoos, left on her nipples will find its way into the little one's tummies. Gentle is the key term for your furry Mama.
If your pooch is particularly reluctant, or you don't want to stress her out by bathing her too often in her delicate post-birth condition, take a tip from hospitals around the world and give her a sponge bath. Use some soft washcloths and warm water and gently wipe her down daily. Although not as thorough as a full-on bath, it helps keep her cleaner until you can get her into the tub.
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