Some dogs need washing really frequently to remove allergens from their skin, while other dogs are irritated by shampoos so washing is restricted as much as possible.
The basics of dog washing
When your dog is a long haired fellow or devoted to rolling in unsavoury things, prone to picking up pongs and dirt on a daily basis, and also blessed with sensitive skin, it can seem a long time between washes as you wait for their skin to be ok with a tumble in some suds.
Groomers and dog skin experts agree regardless of your dog’s skin type and sensitivity, only wash them when your dog really requires it. For some short haired, largely indoor dogs, this can be fairly infrequently. Although owners may need to wash their dog more frequently to combat odour or remove dirt from the coat. The rule of thumb is if their hair is free from debris, grease and doesn’t smell, leave it be.
Bonus tip: brushing their hair regularly can cut back on the need for baths, as it removes dirt – and the tangles that can attract it. Tangles can also lead to hair being ripped out at the roots, which can create sores spots and a proneness to irritation. There are also products available to help increase time between washes such as rinse-free cleansers for spot cleaning, and spot-on formulations that deodorise and replenish the skin barrier.
Last but not least, always ensure you thoroughly rinse their coat after applying shampoos, as leftover product may irritate the skin. Conditioners can be useful for keeping the coat soft and smooth, and brushing out tangles.
Choosing the right shampoo
For a dog with no skin sensitivities, you can use a dog shampoo designed for normal use - there are even two in one conditioning options. That said, it won’t do them any harm to pick out one designed for sensitive skins.
Some dogs have obviously sensitive, fragile skin – and some breeds are pre-disposed to skin issues, such as terriers and retrievers. Dogs experiencing sensitive skin may scratch frequently, or have red patches on their skin, they may also experience hair loss. If you’re not sure, speak to your vet – and if in doubt, stick to the sensitive skin products!
Ideally (and always for a sensitive skinned pet), go for a hypoallergenic, sulphate free cleanser, which will wash your dog’s coat without stripping natural oils from delicate skin. One of the major causes of skin reactions to topical shampoos are harsh surfactant ingredients (cleaning agents), which can result in skin irritation, drying, dandruff, itchiness and even hair loss.
And what not to buy? Look out on the label for sulphates, the most commonly used surfactant (cleaning agent) in human and animal products, as they are effective cleansers and very low cost. However, they are also strong irritants. The two primary sulphate surfactants used in most products are Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and its ethoxylated equivalent Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate (SLES). Both cleansers are made by ‘sulphating’ palm oil. SLS has also been shown to cause the skin to become more sensitive to other ingredients and irritants. Sodium olefin sulphonate is another ingredient increasingly used to achieve ‘sulphate free’ status however is as irritating as SLS.
Also avoid products with artificial fragrances, which can also create an itch - opt instead for products containing natural essential oils, which provide key skin nutrients and a fresh scent.
PAW Sensitive Skin Shampoo
Developed by vets specifically for dogs with fragile, this new nutrient rich formulation in this sulphate free shampoo leaves your dog looking good and feeling great.
PAW NutriDerm® Replenishing Shampoo
an innovative, advanced way to wash and care for your dog’s skin. A sulphate free, moisture rich, oatmeal pet shampoo it is suitable for dogs and cats with normal, dry and itchy skin.