dog with shampoo on his head

Occasional (or frequent) trips to the pet supply store are a part of life for responsible dog owners, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the variety of choices when it comes to pet care products. Do you go with a conventional or boutique brand of food? Traditional leash or harness? Plain collar or the one made of black leather and covered with metal studs? 

With so many other decisions to make, it can be tough to face the grooming aisle with it’s rows upon rows of dog shampoo, conditioner, and other skin care products. It can be tempting to skip this step and just bathe your dog with whatever you already use on yourself at home, but this could have negative consequences for your pooch.

Skin Deep

Your dog seems tough as nails, but in reality dogs have much more sensitive skin than humans. While we have 10-15 cellular layers making up our skin, dogs have only 3-5. Human shampoos generally contain detergents that are much too harsh for your pup. Repeated use of human shampoo can lead to dry skin, flaking, redness, and rashes.

The pH of dog and human skin also differs, with human skin being much more acidic (lower pH). Shampoos designed for humans are usually too acidic for dogs and can cause their thinner skin to slough off more rapidly than it should and can leave the skin vulnerable to bacteria, fungus, parasites, and viruses.

What to Look for in a Dog Shampoo

The most important characteristic of a good dog shampoo is the pH balance. Dog shampoos should be a neutral pH of around 7. If the label doesn’t state the specific pH, look for the words “pH balanced”. 

Strong odors and bright colors all come from chemicals that should not be going on your dog’s sensitive skin, and thus should not be part of your dog’s bathing regimen. Look for natural moisturizing ingredients such as oatmeal or aloe vera. Scents like chamomile, lavender, and eucalyptus tend to come from plant-based sources and can also act as mild insect repellents.

It’s in the Details

Rinsing is arguably the most important step in the bathing process. You should spend twice as long rinsing as you do scrubbing, making sure to avoid the eyes, nose, mouth, and inside the ears.

Most dogs don’t need to be bathed too often as it can dry out the skin regardless of the type of shampoo you select. Your veterinarian will be happy to help you come up with the right bathing schedule for your pet.

If you have any further questions regarding dog shampoo or dog grooming, or would like to know more about our professional grooming services,  please don’t hesitate to contact your team at Animal Medical Hospital & Urgent Care.