Just like a brown-haired person would not select a shampoo formulated for a blonde, your dog also has specific skin and coat needs. Dog shampoo formulations take into consideration everything from sensitive skin allergies, to flea protection so it is important to know and understand what you are looking for in order to narrow it down to the right dog shampoo for your furry friend.
You can’t just use your own salon-quality product on Fido, here’s why – Dog shampoos have a lower pH level more appropriate for canines. In most cases, the dog shampoos are also non-tearing in case you get some in your dog’s eyes. It may seem like a cheap and easy alternative to just grab your own bottle and share it with your dog, but a bottle of dog shampoo will likely last you months so spend the extra time (and if necessary money) to select a formulation that suits your dog’s needs.
Step #1: Determine your dog’s skin/ coat type and any specialty needs
Oily/ dry or normal – If you notice flakes then you should suspect dry skin. For a dog with oily hair, you can typically feel this oily residue when you run your fingers through your dog’s fur, or see it when you part his hair. If you can rule out these two, then your dog probably has normal skin.
Long/ short – This is easy enough to spot. Some shampoo is formulated to suit a specific breed or hair length.
Problem zones – This includes situations like flea/ tick dips, shampoos formulated to help with excessive shedding, or sensitive skin formulations for dogs with allergies or other skin conditions. While an Aloe Vera shampoo may help a dog prone to scratching, if the condition is more serious, a medicated shampoo is something you can discuss with your veterinarian.
When in doubt about your canine’s needs, talk to a groomer and veterinarian. Your vet can rule out more serious skin conditions, and chances are good that a groomer has tested and tried many of the dog shampoos and conditioners on the market.
Step #2: Look closer at the ingredients
You’ve eyed the claims on the front of that bottle and now it is time to take a deeper inspection of the ingredients. Once you’ve selected a shampoo label that looks like it fits your dog’s needs, turn that bottle around. If you have a hard time pronouncing and recognizing the majority of the ingredient names then it is likely mostly synthetic. The ‘all natural’ dog shampoos are increasingly popular over the synthetic versions especially for dogs with sensitive skin.
Step #3: Take a moment to sniff through the scent selections
Finally, before you purchase that shampoo you want to make sure the scent is something you can live with. If possible, let Fido take a sniff too to see his reaction. Remember that heavily scented shampoos run a greater risk of irritating a dog’s skin and coat since it can contain extra fragrances and dyes. However, if the lightly scented or unscented versions just leave you smelling ‘dog’ that may not be appealing either. After all, your hound should get out of his bath looking and smelling better than when he entered it.
Susan Wright is a practicing veterinarian, dog owner, author, great neighbor, and a dog product expert with dog training collars.