One of the best and most obvious ways to keep your dog healthy and clean is to bathe him.
However, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing it.
There are also right and wrong products to choose from for your dog. If you fail to choose the right products, it could lead to discomfort and even cause health problems in your furry friend.
Dogs are prone to shampoo allergies, and this can lead to skin irritation and generally make your pooch feel unwell.
So in the following guide, we are going to take a look at the best and safest products when bathing your dog.
Dog's skin is different from human skin
Skin is probably the most wonderful invention of all time.
Not only does it protect man's furry friend from exposure to the weather and dehydration, but it also provides follicles for hair growth. Last but not least, it makes Fido very huggable.
So what is the difference between humans and their best friends? The epidermis is the body's environmental shield that works as a barrier against disease, injury, and damage from UV rays and is constantly replaced.
Dogs epidermis has a turnover rate of 20 days compared to humans, which is approximately 28 days. So the epidermis of your furry friend is between 3 – 5 cells thick, while in humans, it is at least 10 to 15 cells thick.
Issue of hair
Hair grows in bundles on the canine. However, when it develops in humans, it grows as a solitary strand and continues to grow like dogs' hair, which grows in cycles.
When your furry friend's hair reaches a certain length, determined by the individual dog's genetics, it will stop growing and then die. That's when the shedding begins.
To sweat or not to sweat?
A dog's epidermal skin layer has two types of glands and produces fluids. This is the apocrine gland and the eccrine gland.
The apocrine gland produces sweat in humans but has two other functions in dogs, which is helping to seal the outer layer of the epidermis and secreting pheromones that give dogs a distinctive body odor.
The eccrine glands produce a watery secretion similar to human perspiration. So a nervous or stressed canine may leave behind damp paw prints, and it may also improve traction for a quick getaway.
What causes irritation and itching in dogs after a bath?
Did you know that there are approximately 500 different factors that can cause itchiness and irritation in dogs?
If your dog is scratching all the time, then it's imperative to find out what's causing the itch. However, this can be quite difficult.
While there are many common causes for your dog scratching, it can take quite a bit of elimination work to figure out the culprit.
However, just bear in mind that you should not scratch your dog's itchy spots for him, because believe it or not, scratching the itch will only make the dog itchier.
There are a few reasons why a dog may be itchy, and here are some of them:
- Food and or environmental allergies or intolerances
- A reaction from bugs, fleas etc.
- Seasonal dryness and/or allergies
- Injury or wound to the skin
Ultimately, a bath may be the answer to your pooches scratching issues. If your dog is itching due to seasonal dryness or allergies, then hydrating a dog's skin with a quality dog shampoo may work wonders.
Most people notice the itchiness in their dogs around the same time that they turn on the heat in their homes during the fall or winter.
You'll likely also notice dry skin when the heat is turned, and you may experience this too. This is because heaters cause the air inside the room to become dry.
So a good idea is to use a humidifier in the room where the heat is or where your dog sleeps. The humidifier is also a good idea because the heaters also tend to try out human skin.
Another reason why a bathe is quite an effective remedy for your relieving your pooch is that there are many irritants introduced while you're walking your dog or while he's rattling around in some sort of environment and here are some of the common culprits:
- Different types of grass, like fescue or Bermuda
- Certain trees and leaves growing in your backyard
- Other animals
So the good news is that a good wash can definitely help remove any possible irritants. It's also fast, simple, and effective.
Alternatively, if you find that your dog is still itching after a nice bath, then the irritants found in shampoos could be the culprit.
There are several chemicals and compounds found in dog grooming products that can possibly cause contact dermatitis through either irritation or allergic reaction.
You should never ever use any abrasive scourers, sponges or any other bathing tools to wash your dog.
Some people are under the impression that a stiff bristle brush is the best thing to get all of the dirt off their furry friend's coat.
However, this is not true. When you take into consideration that your dog's skin is much thinner than yours, you should never be using any type of abrasive tool to bathe your dog.
Ultimately, this can lead to skin irritation, discomfort, and possibly even infection in your furry friend.
Type of shampoo
For seasoned pet owners, this may sound fairly obvious but you should never use human shampoos on dogs.
You may have also heard that baby shampoo is the best substitute for dog shampoo; however, even shampoo designed for infants has a different pH than the ones designed for your dog.
So the best thing to do is talk with your vet about which dog shampoo is best for you, especially in the case of canines who have skin problems or have a tendency to be itchy after a bath.
Wrong use of conditioner
It's a relief that dogs don't require the same frequent bathing as humans to keep up their hygiene, maintain their health and comfort.
However, when you do give your dogs a bath, ensure that you only use grooming products specifically made for canines. And when it comes to this, there are no exceptions.
When it comes to conditioner, it's helpful for keeping your dog's fur glossy, hydrated and tangle-free after shampooing. However, as with shampoo, it is important to only use a conditioner made specifically for dogs.
The ASPCA warns against using human grooming products for the conditioners or bar soaps to give your dogs a bath as it leads to unpleasant skin irritation in your furry friends.
So it is an unnecessary risk to take. Ensure that you visit pet supply stores to get the best and safest grooming products for your pets.
If you bathe your dog frequently and use dog grooming products that are suited to your dog's skin, but you still find that he is itching, then fleas could be the culprit. It's no secret that fleas love hanging around dogs and feeding on their blood.
One of the best ways to eliminate fleas is to regularly bathe your dog; however, if the fleas are still lingering in your backyard or your dog's kennel for example, then this is not going to eliminate the problem 100%.
So the next step would be to invest in flea shampoos and conditioners as well as flea powder that you can rub all over your dog once he has had a bath and his coat has been dried. This will act as a repellent and deterrent for fleas, and with regular use, they will ultimately stay away from your furry friend.
Also, ensure that you keep your yard clean and your dog's kennel cleaned and sanitized, and you may also choose to dust it lightly with the flea powder to ensure that they don't linger inside your dog's home.
Diagnosing the problem
As we mentioned earlier, there are literally hundreds of reasons why your dog could be itching.
So you need to go through a process of elimination in order to find out exactly what's causing the itchiness in your furry friend. In most cases, it is often due to the grooming products used to keep your dog clean.
In other cases, it's due to the environment that your dog often hangs around or rolls around in. Fleas and ticks are also major contributors to itchiness in dogs.
Alternatively, your dog's diet could be another reason why he seems to be itchy all the time.
So ultimately, it is a long process, but you need to go through it step-by-step and eliminate one factor at a time until you figure out exactly what's causing the itchiness in Fido. If you still can’t seem to put your finger on it, consult your vet.
What type of shampoo should you use?
It is recommended that you only use shampoos and grooming products specifically designed for dogs.
This is because the ingredients contained in these grooming products are specifically designed to clean your dog's skin and coat but also not cause irritation afterward.
So ensure that you don't use human grooming products on your dog as this may be fine for you, but it could lead to a lot of discomfort and irritation in your best friend.
Irrespective of whether your dog is suffering from dandruff, allergies, or itchy skin, you'll want to use a gentle pet shampoo on him.
The best oatmeal shampoos for dogs can be really helpful for dogs with skin conditions. Everything from specific skin issues to age can determine the right shampoo for your dog's needs.
While oatmeal is are known to help soothe various human skin problems, such as poison ivy and eczema, it works wonders for your canine friends as well.
Your dog's pH level is different from yours, so most dogs need shampoos designed for them that are extra gentle, and oatmeal shampoo definitely falls into that category.
There are a few reasons why your vet may prescribe a medicated shampoo for your dog. One of them is bacterial skin infections.
An antibacterial shampoo will treat mild skin infections, while more serious infections often require a combination of oral antibiotics and antibacterial shampoo.
So depending on your pet's health and coat condition, you may or may not end up using medicated dog shampoo. However, for pets that really need them, medicated shampoo makes all the difference in the world.
So speak to your vet about skin or coat problems that your furry friend may be experiencing so that he can recommend the best treatment option for Fido.
Dog Itching Remedies
When it comes to giving your dogs relief from itchy and irritated skin, there is a combination of natural home remedies as well as medicated treatments that you can opt for.
Ultimately, it all depends on whether you are going for a home remedy or store-bought option. At the same time, we could say that the choice entirely up to you, but it is recommended that you speak to your vet first before deciding which route to go.
If you're looking for an over-the-counter treatment option, then you should first consult with your vet.
Instead of simply searching online or asking for advice over-the-counter, your vet is the most qualified professional to recommend any medicine or commercial treatments for your pet. So bear this in mind if you don't choose to go the natural route.
If you're looking for an all-natural remedy to bring to leave to dogs irritated skin, then chamomile and herbal tea soak could be the answer.
Some of the best natural home remedies include a 50-50 apple cider vinegar and water spray, oatmeal bath or paste, plain and sug-free yogurt, or coconut oil.
Your furry friend depends on you to know what's best for him.
So when it comes to grooming products for your dog, always ensure that you consult your vet and choose the best possible products for your dog.
If Fido has sensitive skin, you must first speak to the vet about this so that he can recommend a grooming product specifically designed for skin sensitivity.
Never use human shampoo on dogs or any other human grooming products on them as you never know how they may react to it. In some cases, a medicated shampoo may be all that your dog needs.
So always take all of the factors into consideration and ensure that you are always acting in your pet's best interest.
Dan is a well respected content researcher who has vast experience working projects in the pets niche. He is a frequent contributor to dogtemperament.com and loves delivering numerous helpful dog articles like this one that are read by thousands of our readers monthly.