Dogs with wrinkles are most definitely cute, but those breeds have special grooming needs. Keeping the wrinkle folds clean is important for health, not to mention appearance. Many wrinkly dogs have sensitive skin and allergies that you can care for with the use of specially designed wipes.
Dogs with wrinkles are generally brachycephalic breeds. You know them. Pugs, bulldogs, boxers, and mastiffs are examples of brachycephalic breeds. They have short faces, round snouts, and plenty of wrinkles on their faces. Other breeds have body wrinkles that require care. Shar-Peis have some wrinkles on their faces, but they also have wrinkles on their backs and legs. Likewise, many scent hounds such as bloodhounds and basset hounds have wrinkles around their faces, ears, necks and bodies that need to stay keep clean and dry.
Importance of Cleaning
It's important to keep wrinkles clean for a dog's health. Dirt, moisture and sometimes food can easily build up in the folds of a dog's skin leading to bacterial or fungal growths and ultimately infections. These infections often result in painful sores or pustules, staining, odor and loss of hair. If a dog has already developed any of these symptoms, it is important that you seek veterinary care before beginning a grooming routine.
Over the Counter
Because of the boom in the dog care industry, many grooming wipes are on the retail market. Be cautious of potentially misguiding labeling. Technically, hypoallergenic, or allergen-free, is a label used to define wipes that are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Be sure to avoid products with added colors, scents or specific known allergens of the dog in question. Many of the wipes available include aloe or witch-hazel as soothing agents, or alcohol or tea tree oil as drying agents. These are fine as long as the individual dog is not allergic.
Many veterinarians carry wipes specifically designed to treat or prevent infections. These may contain ingredients such as chlorhexidine or ketoconazole. These ingredients are antimicrobials; use them only if your veterinarian prescribes them. Though technically hypoallergenic, these prescription wipes contain specific drying agents, as moisture is a common cause of problems in the facial skin folds of many breeds. Because of this, use of them without veterinarian guidance could actually worsen any existing problems.
Many home remedies exist for dogs who are allergic to traditional grooming wipes. These include washing the area with a washcloth dampened with water, then drying with a clean towel; using unscented baby wipes to clean the area; and using apple cider vinegar to clean the area, then drying with a clean towel. With home remedies, removal of dirt and excess moisture is key to keeping the area clean and free of infection.
Shelly Volsche has worked as a professional dog behavior consultant, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and a diploma in canine nutrition. She has written for "The Chronicle of the Dog" and Lucky Dog Magazine and is currently pursuing her PhD in anthropology with a focus on pet parents.