There are times that no matter how much you love your dog, you would prefer not to get too close!
If you have a dog that loves to roll in smelly stuff then you will know what I mean. But can you use baby shampoo on dogs!
When it comes to bath time it can be tempting to use what’s on hand. However, there are a few things to consider before you reach for your favourite shampoo.
How often should I bath my dog?
A dog’s coat has natural oils that help it remain in good condition. If you bath your dog every week, this can strip away the natural oils and lead to a damaged coat and irritated skin.
Generally it is best to bath your dog only if he becomes dirty or you notice a distinct odour. This can depend on several things, such the type of coat your dog has and the environment that you walk him in.
Both the time of the year and how much exercise he gets can also affect how often he may need to be bathed.
Not so long ago we tended to only wash our dogs once a year; or if necessary after a smelly walk. Dogs’ coats are designed to be self cleaning.
Dirt and dead skin cells travel along the hair shafts and are removed from the ends naturally as your dog goes about his daily life.
Now, however we are much more likely to have a dog that gets bathed regularly. But with so many choices of shampoo products on the market how do we choose what is best for your dog?
What is a PH balance and why is it important?
If you use any type of face cream or body wash you may be familiar with the term pH Balance. Simply put, pH stands for the ‘power of hydrogen’, and describes the acid-alkaline ratio of a substance.
The pH scale ranges from 0, the most acidic to 14, the most alkaline. While our skin is typically around 5.2 – 5.5 our dog’s skin is around 6.2 – 7.52 making it much more alkaline.
All mammals have a thin layer of acidic oil that covers the skin. This ‘acid mantle’ protects the skin from contaminants such as bacteria and viruses. Each time we wash, we remove this layer of oil and it is temporarily replaced with artificial oils and moisturisers contained in the bathing products that we use.
The body naturally replaces this oil, but it takes around twelve hours to do so. If the acid mantle is not replaced or is damaged for any reason, then the skin can become irritated. This can result in dry, flaking or itchy skin.
Why we shouldn’t use human shampoos on our dogs
As our skin and our dogs’ skin have different pH levels, it is not advisable to use products that are specifically designed for human skin on your dog. Products designed for human skin will be much more acidic and this can disrupt your dog’s acid mantle.
Not only will this cause potential skin irritation, but it also creates a perfect habitat for bacteria to flourish. Unfortunately as bacteria can cause an unpleasant smell, this may simply result in another bath for your dog.
This process then becomes a vicious cycle that is horrible for both of you.
What type of shampoo should I choose?
Just like our hair, our dogs’ coats can vary. Picking a shampoo that is best suited for your four legged friend can seem like a little overwhelming with all the products on the market. So we have tried to make it as simple as possible:
If your dogs’ skin and coat already look healthy and in good condition but he just needs a freshen up, then a basic pH-balanced shampoo is really all you really need.
Try to avoid products that rely heavily on chemicals and instead look for natural ingredients like chamomile, oatmeal and calendula. These ingredients tend to be gentle on the skin.
Damaged or itchy skin
Sensitive skin is not uncommon in dogs. Seasonal allergies, skin infections and reactions to flea bites can all make life miserable for your dog. Shampoos specifically designed for itchy skin often contain soothing ingredients such as oat protein.
It’s particularly important to look for fragrance-free formulations in order not to irritate the skin further. Fragrance is not essential in dog shampoos. If your dog’s skin is clean, then he should have a natural and pleasant ‘biscuity’ smell (mmm…!).
Oily or smelly coat
For all those dogs that like to roll, you may want to consider a shampoo especially formulated to get rid of strong odours. If you own a ‘roller’ you will know that it’s very difficult to remove the smell with an ordinary shampoo.
Shampoos that just have a strong fragrance will not remove the underlying smell, so opt for one that is designed specifically for the job.
Dry skin or brittle coat
Dry skin can be the result of any number of reasons. For example, if your dog has been under the weather then you may find his coat has lost its shine and his skin is dry or flaky.
Just like babies, puppies tend to have more sensitive skins than adult dogs. If you want to bathe your puppy, then look for a natural formula specifically designed for young dogs.
Can you use baby shampoo on dogs?
Most baby shampoos are designed to be mild because of the sensitive nature of a babies skin. They can be used on dogs, but it is advisable to do so only in an emergency, in moderation, and if you don’t have a dog shampoo available.
Despite being mild, baby shampoos are still designed for human skin that has a much higher acidic value than our dogs. As such they tend to dry out a dog’s coat and skin.
This may have the unintended consequence of causing more serious issues than just having to live with an unpleasant smell.