Dog Health Problems Related to Grooming Products

by Jean Rabe
    While grooming dogs is necessary, it can cause problems in pets with sensitive skin.

    While grooming dogs is necessary, it can cause problems in pets with sensitive skin.

    SONY DSC image by gierczak2007 from Fotolia.com

    Grooming can help keep a dog healthy. Removing mats and tangled fur is a good way to prevent sores and other skin irritations from developing. Fleas, ticks and other parasites are more readily uncovered, and it is easier to spot lumps and tender spots when a dog is groomed. But some grooming products have unpleasant side effects on some sensitive dogs, Despite its benefits, grooming can cause problems, especially if a dog is allergic to ingredients in the products used.

    Symptoms of skin problems due to a shampoo allergy include excessive scratching or licking, scabs, hot spots, scaly patches and flaky skin. Like people, dogs' skin carries natural oils that shampoos can strip. Discontinuation of the offending products will usually stop the allergic reaction. Be certain to use products meant for dogs, rather than human shampoos, as dogs' skin has a much higher pH level than humans'. Hypoallergenic shampoos are available from groomers and pet supply stores. In addition, veterinarians have prescription shampoos for dogs with severe allergies.

    Some dog shampoos have strong ingredients including toluene, butyl acetate and ethyl acetate. For example, butyl acetate is a chemical solvent that serves as a foaming agent and is also used in upholstery shampoo and nail polish. These ingredients are thought to contribute to organ problems and an increased cancer rate in laboratory animals and humans. Read the label to find shampoos with less caustic ingredients. Hypoallergenic shampoos and natural-formula shampoos can be found at pet supply stores and from groomers.

    A dog's skin can become irritated if it is clipped too close or if the clippers get too hot and burn the skin. Scabs can appear and the skin can become blotchy, usually clearing up on its own within a week. The skin can be treated with antibiotics if the irritation is severe and persistent.

    On that proverbial other side of the coin, people who groom dogs can face health problems. These typically stem from daily exposure to chemicals, disinfectants and pesticides in some grooming products and manifest themselves as skin allergies and other maladies. In addition, some dog parasites can be transmitted to groomers. Treatment depends on the exact cause of the problem and often involves changing the dog shampoo and other grooming products used.

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    About the Author

    Jean Rabe has worked in journalism since 1979, serving as a reporter, bureau chief and magazine editor. She has written 27 novels, including "The Finest Creation" and "The Finest Challenge," while her true-crime book, "When the Husband is the Suspect," was written with F. Lee Bailey. Rabe has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

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