If your dog has just come inside after rolling in the mud, you’ll probably want to give him a bath before he runs all over your carpets and couches. But what shampoo should you use to wash him? There are a lot of options out there, and it can be overwhelming to decide what shampoo is right for your pet. There are a few things you should take into consideration: the breed of your pet, the texture and density of their fur, their specific skin needs, and what ingredients are safe for pets.
Why Do I Need to Shampoo My Pet?
Dogs are notorious for getting into messes and needing to be washed, but other pets may need baths sometimes too. Cats usually don’t because they clean themselves, but if your kitten falls into her food dish, she’ll probably need a bath. However, the needs of dogs and cats are different, and shampoo formulated for dogs is not ideal for cats and may even be toxic to them.
Since dogs don’t groom themselves, they need regular cleaning to remove dead hair and skin cells, reduce shedding, and keep their skin and hair free from dirt and allergens that can cause itching and infections. Since you want to make baths a pleasant experience for your dog, you should select a non-irritating shampoo and only bathe him as often as necessary.
Single-coated dogs like Greyhounds, Dalmatians, and Boxers may not require baths as frequently as other breeds, about every one to three months.
Double-coated dogs like Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, and German Shepherds, have a shorter undercoat and a dense, longer outer coat. They need a shampoo that penetrates to the undercoat and skin, and they should be bathed about every four to six weeks.
3 Tips for Choosing Dog Shampoo
1. Pay Attention to pH Level
Everyone’s skin has a pH level that must be balanced to avoid over-drying and irritation. The lower the pH, the more acidic a substance is, and the higher the pH, the more alkaline the substance is. Humans have an average skin pH of 5.5-6.5, while dogs have a skin pH between 6.2 and 7.4.
This is why you shouldn’t use human shampoo on dogs. A shampoo with the wrong pH level can disrupt your dog’s acid mantel, which strips natural oils from their skin and leaves it dry, itchy, and flaky. Dogs also have thinner skin than humans, so using a human shampoo that is too acidic for them can cause irritation, itching, sores, and potentially dermatitis and fungal infections. You should use PH-balanced dog shampoo for your pooch.
2. Consider Coat Density
The right shampoo for your dog’s coat will clean their skin and fur properly and make rinsing easier. A quality drying towel like The Dog Lover’s Towel will make drying easier, especially if your dog likes to shake vigorously and gets the zoomies when his fur is wet.
There are three main coat types:
- Fine or thin
- Single, with no inner layer
- Easy to see the skin through the coat
- No thick undercoat or double coat
- Medium Density
- A “normal” or medium coat
- Need to move the coat slightly to see the skin
- May be some undercoat or double coat
- Dense coats
- Difficult to see the skin through the coat
- Noticeable undercoat or double coat
If you’re looking for the best shampoo for golden retrievers, for example, you should select a shampoo for dogs with double coats. If your dog has silky, fine hair that gets knotty, you may want to opt for shampoo for furry dogs with detangling properties. Special shampoo for white dogs can help keep their fur from turning yellow.
3. Look for Natural Ingredients
While you’re looking for a pH-balanced dog shampoo, you’ll want to consider the ingredients in the shampoo as well.
Many people are beginning to avoid ingredients that can irritate or have harmful effects in their personal care products, and you should do the same for your dog’s bath products.
The main ingredients you should steer clear of include parabens, sulfates, dyes, artificial fragrances, and strong soaps that can strip natural oils and cause irritation.
You should try to find shampoos with mostly plant-based or natural ingredients. For example, oatmeal and jojoba oil are good for dogs with dry skin. Hypoallergenic shampoos are also a good option.