Shih-tzu, shar-pei, pugs and Pekingese are all adorably wrinkly, but the skin folds that add to their character also create the ideal environment for yeast and bacteria to grow. Dogs who sport skin folds have a tendency for chronic skin infections unless you pitch in a helping hand and clean his wrinkles at least twice a week. As for what cleaner to use, you can buy it or use what you have on hand.
If your dog's skin is clear of infection and you're on a maintenance regimen to keep it that way, warm water will do the trick. Just moisten a cotton ball or a soft wash cloth with it and open your dog's skin folds with one hand while you use the other to gently wipe the exposed skin clean.
If you're not confident in using nothing more than water to thoroughly clean your dog's skin folds, add one drop of his doggie shampoo to a cup of warm water and mix it up to completely combine it together. Apply the homemade cleanser to your dog's skin folds with a soft washcloth or a cotton ball. Thoroughly rinse any area to which you've applied the soapy mixture to avoid further irritating your pooch's skin.
Medicated wipes, cleaners and gels for cleaning dog skin folds are available at pet supply stores and your vet's office. These types of cleaners are better than simple soap and water if your canine has a skin infection or is prone to chronic flare-ups. They are usually made with a form of peroxide like benzoyl or hydrogen or might contain chlorhexidine and miconazole or acetic or boric acid. Mupirocin or other antibiotic and antibiotic-steroid combination creams and gels for use after cleaning are other options that your vet may recommend.
Whatever cleaner and method you clean your dog's wrinkles with, ensuring that his skin folds are thoroughly dry afterward is essential for keeping his skin healthy. Open the folds and pat them dry with a soft towel. You can even use a blow dryer switched to the lowest setting to blow the skin between the folds dry. Some groomers sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch in dogs' skin folds to further absorb moisture, but that can backfire if the powders clump up and irritate your pup's skin. In his 2009 book "Bulldogs," Phil Maggitti recommended dabbing petroleum jelly into the skin folds because it not only provides a moisture barrier, it also soothes your dog's skin.
- Web MD: Skin Infections in Dogs
- ASPCA: Groom Your Dog
- DogChannel.com: Grooming to Make Your Bloodhound Beautiful
- The Pet Lover's Guide to Cat and Dog Skin Diseases; Karen L. Campbell
- Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, et al.
- Oh My Dog; Beth Ostrosky Stern and Kristina Grish
- Bulldogs; Phil Maggitti
- The Everything Dog Grooming Book; Sandy Blackburn
- Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images