Veterinarians recommend and prescribe medicated dog shampoos for a variety of canine ailments from flea infestation to skin allergies. However, not all medicated shampoos work the same way. It’s important to consult your veterinarian and understand a shampoo’s active ingredients and application directions before you suds up your pup.
Medicated shampoos are used to treat topical ailments. Soothing, anti-inflammatory shampoos quell allergic dermatitis, while anti-bacterial and anti-fungal shampoos inhibit the growth of harmful organisms. It’s important to understand that while shampoo therapy can be a wonderful way to provide your buddy some relief, chances are it won’t eradicate the underlying problem. Medicated shampoos work on the exterior while oral medications and treatments address the problem from within. Shampoos are best utilized in conjunction with other medical or dietary treatments formulated to treat the underlying cause of your buddy’s skin issues. Get your pup a check-up if he’s experiencing a skin flair up.
Familiarizing yourself with the most common active ingredients can make choosing a medicated shampoo less daunting. Sulfur, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are the three most commonly effective antibacterial ingredients. Ketaconazole and miconazole inhibit the growth of fungal and yeast organisms. These two ingredients are key in treating ringworm and malassezia dermatitis -- a common canine skin disease that causes itchy skin, hair loss and a foul odor. Many antipruritic (anti-itch) shampoos contain colloidal oatmeal, which works to absorb and pull away surface allergens.
Application is perhaps the most important step in shampoo therapy. Always follow your veterinarian’s specific application instructions. Certain skin conditions like yeast infections and ringworm are difficult to handle and may require frequent bathing, sometimes up to 3 times a week, until the condition is resolved. It’s also important to make sure the shampoo has as much direct contact with your buddy’s skin as possible. After all, you’re treating a skin problem not a hair problem. Veterinarians generally recommend working the shampoo into your buddy’s skin for 10 or so minutes.
All dogs are different and can become allergic or sensitive to any ingredient at any time. Discontinue the use of medicated shampoo if your buddy’s skin condition worsens or he develops redness, welts, sores or swelling. Rinsing him thoroughly with slightly cool or lukewarm water can help relieve his irritation in a pinch while you consult your veterinarian for further instructions.
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.