Every dog owner knows one of the most important parts of their care regimen for their four-legged friends comes at bath time. Whether this is a period of soapy bubbly fun or a battle to get your dog to stand still for two seconds so you can wash them will naturally vary from dog to dog.
What is constant, however, is the need to wash them regardless. Not only will your dog stink to high heaven if you don’t wash them, but failing to do so can leave your dog vulnerable to all manner of insects, skin irritations, infections, and much more. The need to wash your dog is clear, as is the impetus to look into cleaning agents such as dog shampoo. Your dog’s skin is much more sensitive than yours, making it that much more important to make sure that you get it right when it comes to washing them.
This overview of dog shampoo and conditioner can give you a better idea of what it can do for your dog, when it’s at its most effective, and what that means for washing your dog.
The Benefits of Dog Shampoo
There are many benefits to using dog shampoo, not the least of which being that they replace the oils your dog might lose as they shed fur. Even if you buy a breed that doesn’t shed too much, they are still bound to get dirty. Their skin is always going to be exposed to the elements. As a result, even if you have a low-shedding dog and keep it inside as much as possible, you are still going to need to wash it with shampoo and conditioner to nourish and replenish its skin and hair and keep both healthy. Shampooing and conditioning your dog is one of the best ways to help prevent large patches of fur loss.
Of course, this only becomes more important the more you let your dog roam outside. Mud, dirt, and grime can cake onto their coat, blocking up its pores and irritating its skin while leaving its coat a tangled mess.
Speaking of which, shampoos are also good for keeping your dog’s coat nice and shiny. This is more than a mere aesthetic move, as for all the reasons indicated above, a clean, glossy coat is a good indication of the health of your dog’s skin and fur. The best dog shampoos and conditioners lock in moisturizing ingredients that help keep your dog’s fur softer longer. In particular, you’ll want to be on the lookout for shampoos and conditioners that contain Vitamin E and oatmeal, as both contain nutrients and help make your dog’s coat look glossier. In addition, amino acids and hydrolyzed proteins can help keep your dog’s coat nice and thick.
Finally, for dogs that do shed, shampoos and conditioners can help reduce the amount of fur loss that occurs as a result. By softening the fur, conditioner makes it easier for particles to slip off dogs more easily, which both helps prevent tangles and makes it easier for your dog to shed fur more smoothly rather than accidentally shed more than they might intend by “forcing” it.
Does Your Dog Need Shampoo?
There are several factors that can determine how worthwhile dog shampoo is for you and your canine companion, not the least of which being how often you wash it. For example, if you wash your dog more than once per month, you should definitely consider making use of a shampoo or conditioner that can help it retain moisture during and after bath time. You’ll also want to make sure to wash your dog as close to the hair shaft as possible.
Dogs with longer fur and heavier coats are more prone to tangles and matted fur than shorter-haired dogs, and so they are in greater need of a shampoo and conditioner. That said, any dog can benefit from them, and you want to make sure that your dog is tangle-free after you’re done washing it.
As important as it is to wash your dog’s coat from top to bottom, you’ll want to pay special attention to its undercoat. This area can get tangled very quickly, and when tangles happen here, they can cause your dog pain while leading to fur loss.
If your dog already suffers from itchy skin, conditioners with anti-allergen ingredients could be a big help. Regardless, you want to make sure that you are using conditioners that will be gentle with your dog’s skin and not aggravate it further.
Finally, if your dog is an impatient bather, 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner combos can be a good way of getting the essentials of its bathing routine done that much faster.
Can You Use Human Shampoo?
Dogs have more sensitive skin than us, which is one reason that they have specialized shampoo. That said, your skin is more acidic than your dog’s, which means using your shampoo on them can risk scrubbing at their acidic mantle. This in turn can make your dog’s skin dry and flaky, which can lead to your dog feeling itchy, and can likewise leave it vulnerable to bacteria.
What if your dog’s just decided to dive into a big pool of mud and human shampoo is all you have? In one-off situations like this, your shampoo may do, but don’t make a habit of it and don’t be too vigorous. What’s more, if you absolutely have to use a shampoo designed for humans rather than a dog-specific shampoo, it’s important to remember that not all shampoos are created equal. If you must use a human shampoo on your dog, it’s much better to use one with aloe vera, natural colloidal oatmeal, tea tree oil, and similar natural organic materials rather than chemically-based ones.
What About Puppies?
Can you use a conditioner on a puppy’s coat? Maybe, it’s first worth noting that puppies’ skin is even more sensitive than that of their parents and thus requires even more sensitive and careful care. You do not want to do anything that could cause their skin to become irritated, and that includes using human or other shampoos with harsher chemicals.
Thankfully, there are plenty of conditioners made specifically for puppy use, and these are the ones you’ll want to use with them. You should start bathing your puppy at a young age, but should hold off on using even a puppy conditioner until your puppy is at least 8 to 12 weeks old.
There is a lot to be said about shampooing and conditioning dogs, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that it’s not out of vanity or simply caring about your dog’s appearance that you should explore shampoos and conditioners, but for their health. As demonstrated above, the health of a dog’s coat can be a big indicator of how it’s feeling overall. Failing to treat its coat properly can lead to it becoming dull, coarse, patchy, and matted, and can likewise leave your dog’s skin dirty and irritated. While we all want to wash our dogs to make sure they don’t smell, far more important is making sure they’re in good health, and that means finding a quality shampoo and conditioner that can keep their coat clean, comfortable, and in good condition.