Wavy, curly, silky, short, double, dense, wooly, corded – dog coats are definitely not all the same. There’s a wide variation from breed to breed and among individual dogs. That’s why no single shampoo is ideal for every dog.
Finding a shampoo that is tailored to your dog’s type of coat will enhance the grooming process, maintain the beauty of the fur, and contribute to your dog’s overall health. You just need to understand what to look for.
Why and When to Shampoo
Dog owners know that dogs don’t mind being smelly and dirty. In fact, many dogs delight in rolling around in brush and mud puddles and piling on the dirt, making a deep clean necessary.
Regular bathing removes dead hair and skin cells, reduces shedding, and helps keep your dog’s skin and coat free of dirt and allergens that can irritate and cause itching and infections.
Aside from being a necessary part of grooming, bathing your dog can be a bonding and trust-building experience. The right shampoo, if it feels refreshing, gentle, and is easy to rinse out of the coat, will help make the bathing process a positive experience.
Of course, different dogs require different bathing regimens. Single-coated dogs, such as Greyhounds, Dalmatians, and Boxers, may not require baths as frequently as other breeds with thicker coats. But when they do, a shampoo that is gentle on their skin and coat while repelling dust and dirt is the optimal choice.
Double-coated dogs, for example Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, and German Shepherd Dogs, have a shorter undercoat and a dense, longer outer coat. They require a shampoo that penetrates through to the undercoat and skin.
Dog shampoo ingredients to avoid
Whatever your dog’s needs are, you can find a sweeping array of appropriate products on the shelves of your local pet store. However, not all dog shampoos are created equal, and there are some that contain ingredients that can irritate and harm your dog’s skin.
When shopping for a shampoo, be sure to examine the ingredients listed on the bottle before making a purchase. Avoid artificial fragrances and dyes, which can irritate your dog’s eyes and skin, but do look for natural fragrances, like chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus, and citrus.
An important thing to remember is this: never use shampoos or conditioners designed for humans. Our skin is less sensitive than a dog’s, and human shampoos are designed to wash off the natural oils and wax on our hair. That’s fine for humans, but it will leave your dog’s coat dull and brittle and can cause rashes.
How to choose dog shampoo
What kind of ingredients should you look for in a dog shampoo? A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple, opting for shampoos with natural ingredients like oatmeal, aloe vera, herbal proteins, vitamins, and citrus extracts. And, as always, ask your veterinarian to recommend the right shampoo for your dog’s specific needs.
Tips for Enjoying Bath-time
Once you find the shampoo that works best for your dog, you can teach your dog to enjoy the attention and time in the bath. Professional groomers stress the importance of getting your dog accustomed to bath time. Here’s how:
- First, make sure you’re relaxed and calm.
- If you have a puppy, let him get used to standing in an empty tub when you’re not yet giving him a bath and reward him with praise or treats.
- When you’re ready to shampoo your dog, take him for a walk first to get some of the energy out.
- You’re going to get wet, so dress accordingly.
- Brush your dog before shampooing to remove loose hair, dirt, and debris.
- Check the water temperature to be sure it’s slightly warm but never hot.
- Use a soft stream of water to thoroughly wet the coat.
- Once the dog is wet to the skin, lather in the shampoo tailored specifically for your dog’s coat.
- Avoid getting shampoo in the dog’s eyes, mouth, nose, and ears.
- A nice massage over the suds will help your dog stay relaxed, as well as make sure the shampoo is applied throughout the coat.
- Rinse the shampoo out with warm water. Even when you think you’ve rinsed out all of the suds, rinse again.
- Finally, use a couple of thick, absorbent towels and blot out as much of the water as you can.
When you take your clean dog out of the tub, give him some treats, and stand back – because all dogs will shake off vigorously, and many wet dogs get the zoomies.