A shiny, lustrous coat is the sign of a healthy, well groomed dog. The right shampoo can make your pup's coat the envy of the pack, while the wrong shampoo can contribute to dull fur and itchy, irritated skin. Shampoos contain ingredients and chemicals that can affect each dog differently. Read product labels carefully and seek advice before deciding which shampoo will help your pooch look and feel her best.
Shampoo has the same effect on your dog's coat that it has on your hair. It removes dirt, dander and greasy residue, and generally leaves your dog smelling fresh, clean and less like a dog. Shampoo also can leave fur shinier, fuller and fluffier. Whitening or bluing shampoos remove stains and brighten a white coat, while other enhancement shampoos make the natural color pop in black, silver and red coats.
Effects of Human Shampoo
Just because your favorite brand reduces frizz and makes your flowing locks glow, doesn't mean it's a good choice for your dog. Some owners use baby shampoo on their dogs, but it's best not to try to save money by sharing shampoo with the canine members of your family. You could end up spending a lot more in vet bills trying to figure out why your dog's skin is so inflamed. Human shampoo can cause fur to become dry and dull, and make skin flaky and itchy. The ASPCA recommends that owners use bath products that are designed especially for dogs. Even some canine shampoos can cause skin irritation for more sensitive dogs. Consult your groomer and vet about the best product to use for your dog.
Effects of Ingredients
The ingredients in any shampoo will influence the effect it has on your dog's coat. Shampoos that contain fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil, help coats retain their shine. Shampoos featuring oatmeal often are used to help calm allergies and address skin irritations. Shampoos that contain all natural ingredients may seem like the healthiest choice for your dog. However, while they might not contain chemicals, they can contain eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil or other substances that can dry the coat and irritate the skin.
Effects of Medicated Shampoos
Medicated or specialty shampoos are designed to address particular issues your dog has. For example, shampoos can be purchased that contain ingredients to prevent ticks and fleas from infesting your dog's fur. Other products are designed to cut down on dander. Specialized hypo-allergenic shampoos can be used when bathing dogs with allergies or sensitive skin. Be aware that some medicated products may be toxic if ingested. Ingredients, such as menthol, boric acid and pine tar, all can be hazardous to your dog's health.
Too Much Shampoo
An effective shampoo removes dirt and rinses out without leaving a residue behind. However, shampooing more than once every three months can remove natural oils and moisture that helps keep the coat shiny and healthy. If your dog has long hair, shampooing also can result in a tangled mess. Apply conditioner after shampooing to protect the coat from drying out and to prevent tangles.
Based in Los Angeles, Mary Helen Berg has been writing about pets, travel, families and parenting since 1989. Her work has appeared in publications such as "The Los Angeles Times" and "Newsweek." Berg holds a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.