Choosing the Right Shampoo for Your Dog

If you're like me, you probably have a strategy for bathing your dog. I find that arranging my supplies before alerting my pups that it's time for a bath is the best approach. When I feel fully prepared, I can focus my attention on easing my dogs' stress over the dreaded "b" word. I also like knowing that the products I chose will help keep them clean, healthy, and fresh-smelling. Selecting the best shampoo for your dog isn't difficult, but it does require a bit of forethought.

The Basics

The most important rule for shopping for dog shampoo is limiting your choices to the products that are made for dogs. Sure, your shampoo may work great on your own hair and scalp, but your pet's skin has a vastly different pH level. While the products in your shower will technically clean your dog, they will also upset the balance of oils in his coat. In addition to drying out the skin, this disruption also creates an ideal environment for bacteria, parasites, and even viruses.

If what you like best about your bath products is their smell, rest assured that you have many pleasing scents to choose from at the pet supply store. Be sure not to base your entire decision on this one factor, though. It also helps to have an idea of what you want before you hit the grooming aisle.

It's About Skin Care, Not Just Hair Care

When it comes to selecting a canine shampoo, consider your dog's skin type. If your dog's skin dries out easily, look for a moisturizing shampoo. Products made with oatmeal or jojoba oil can help soothe the skin. It's always important to rinse your dog thoroughly after washing him, but this step is even more important with a case of dry skin. Any residual soap that lingers in your dog's coat will exacerbate flaking and itching.

Like people, some dogs have sensitive skin. If your dog is one of them, look for hypoallergenic products. These shampoos do not have the artificial colors and scents that other shampoos often contain. Many owners prefer using products made with natural ingredients instead of chemicals that they can't pronounce even if their dog's skin isn't sensitive.

Coat Considerations

Dogs are the most varied of all species. Some have fine, silky hair while others have thick fur and double coats. If your dog has fine hair that snarls easily, a detangling shampoo may be just what the groomer ordered. You can even find products that help manage problems like excessive shedding.

Dogs also come in virtually every color from the brightest white to the deepest black. White coats can yellow over time, and dark coats can lose their luster; however, you can find shampoos that help maintain your dog's natural color.

Get The Good Stuff

Even if you bathe your dog fairly often, a bottle of shampoo will last a long time. Keep this in mind before ruling out a more expensive product. A large bottle will likely last you about a year, making it a more practical option than you might think. A quality product will also lengthen the amount of time between your dog's baths—something both of you are bound to appreciate.

Tammy Gagne is a freelance writer who specializes in the health and behavior of companion animals. A two-time Dog Writers Association of America writing competition nominee, she has written more than pet care books for adults and children. She lives in New England with her husband, son, and myriad furry and feathered creatures.


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