It's happened to all of us. Your dog had a great time running around in the park on a wet afternoon. Or he found something delightfully stinky to roll in.
You just want to get rid of the smell or the mud, so you look around for a strong cleaning product to do the job. But before you reach for the antibacterial soap, or even the dishwash liquid, stop!
Pets need to be washed with a properly formulated product for pets, preferably a natural one. You shouldn't be using people soap, or dishwashing liquid on your pets.
“Harsh chemicals aren't necessary,” says Terese DeManuelle, a veterinary dermatologist from Portland, Oregon. “A mild hypoallergenic soap that's formulated for veterinary use is all you need.”
Use pet products, not people products
Human grooming products are formulated to clean human skin and dog shampoo is designed specifically for dog skin. While your favorite shampoo may get rid of the dirt from your dog’s fur, it can mess up the skin’s pH balance, which can lead to skin issues.
When the acid mantle of a dog's skin is disrupted, bacteria and parasites are able to multiply rapidly. This can cause bad smells that means you give your dog more baths. Too many baths causes dog’s skin to dry out and become itchy. When your dog begins scratching at itself, cuts and abrasions are created. These then become breeding grounds for more bacteria, setting off a vicious circle and leading to a very unhappy (and smelly) animal.This muddy creature is our family's much loved furry friend, Dougall!
What to look for in pet care products
Because we love our furry family members, it makes sense that we should be as careful about pet care products as we are about the products we use on ourselves. When choosing natural pet care products, make sure to read the labels and be on the lookout for ingredients that may be harmful to your fur babies.
Dog shampoo and other pet grooming products should not contain artificial fragrances or colours. Natural fragrances aren’t always good, either. While essential oils may give natural pet care products a pleasant scent, some may irritate your pet’s skin.
Even if an essential oil (EO) has been beneficial to you, it may not be tolerated by your pet. Cats, birds, and rabbits are particularly sensitive to essential oils. EOs like tea tree and pennyroyal, which are often used to treat flea infestations, can cause harm to some animals. Other essential oils, like cloves, sassafras, camphor, and oregano, may also cause sensitivity and organ toxicity. Here’s a list of EOs that may be harmful to pets.
Look for pet shampoo that will help maintain the pH balance of your pet’s skin. The pH level of dog skin should be between the neutral and alkaline ranges: between 5.5 and 7.5 is good.
How often should you bath your pet?
Aside from the occasional emergency bath (when your dog is caked in mud or if it rolled around in a pile of something stinky), dogs really only need to be bathed about once a month.
Cats do a pretty good of job of grooming themselves, but they will sometimes need to be washed as well. Some cats will need a hand with grooming, especially if they are too fat to reach certain parts of their body or if their coats have gotten sticky or greasy.
While you should keep your pets clean, it’s also important that you don’t wash them too often. Frequent baths don't just dry out their skin and cause problems. They can also interfere with flea or deworming treatments. However, if your vet prescribes a medicated shampoo, follow the instructions from your vet on how frequently your pet should be washed.
Once you’ve given your pets a bath, dry them off as best you can. Then you can let them back outside, where they will probably head straight into the next puddle or leaf pile!
Image: DepositPhoto; own.
Hello Charlie stocks a range of natural pet care products that are specially formulated just for pets. Shop the range here!