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With the thousands of choices of pet shampoos on the market, it still surprises me how many people ask for Oatmeal shampoo or use Dawn Dish Detergent when bathing their pet. Being a Professional Groomer and also a Shampoo Distributor, I thought it was time to provide pet owners with all of the options to choose from to help make a more customized shampoo purchase for your pet.
Step 1 – Choose between a Natural vs Unnatural Product
The first decision you need to make when purchasing pet shampoo is whether or not you want a natural product or a chemical based one. There are pros and cons for both so you need to decide which is best for you.
- Chemical or Synthetic Shampoo
- Pros – long lasting scent, super cleaning abilities
- Cons – You are applying chemicals directly on your dog and your hands. Considering the vast number of allergies in the canine world, many dogs have reactions to the synthesized ingredients
- Natural Ingredient Shampoo
- Pros – safer ingredients for your pet’s skin and coat and your hands
- Cons – your pet will not smell like the bottle for very long. They will smell clean and fresh but not like “berries” for weeks afterwards.
- Disclaimer on Natural Products
Like human made products, All-Natural does not necessarily mean natural. Look at the ingredients – if you can pronounce it, its natural. Also keep in mind the term Organic could be a farce as well. Organic products must be listed with a percentage of organic ingredients. For example, Tea Tree Oil (75%). No percentage in the ingredients? Not Organic.
Step 2 – Identify your pets needs to customize a product for them
You made the choice of either Natural or Chemical and have a bunch of brands to choose from. Now you need to figure out your pet’s general needs.
Is your dog itchy? Smelly? Has bites or sores on their body? Each of these traits or conditions has a product designed specifically to address their condition.
Still hooked on Oatmeal? I would like to point out that Oatmeal really isn’t the best choice for many pets. In fact, Professional Groomers do not use it as often as you would think. Oatmeal is not a very good cleaner. In the Grooming World, many of us use a general purpose shampoo first to really wash the dog, then follow up with Oatmeal as a secondary bath. Oatmeal is not a bad product and if your pet has dry skin and doesn’t get very dirty – then go for it! It will work for you. But if your pet is active and gets bathed infrequently, there are better options on the market.
There are medicated products on the market that you do not have to get from your vet. A great one for hot spots, yeast, crud and funky skin would have an antiseptic in it to dry out the extra moisture which leads to sores. Medicated Shampoo is also good for the pet that has year-round allergies.
Design specifically for dogs that have allergies certain times of the year, an Anti-Itch Shampoo containing Neem Oil would be a great option for the seasonal pet’s baths.
The Smelly Dog (aka any of my hound dogs!)
My Beagle Maybelline fell into this category! Her nickname, after all, was ‘Stinky!’ The shampoo you would reach for when owning one of these smelly guys (or gals) is an odor neutralizer and/or deodorizer. Many owners tend to reach for a potent smelling shampoo to mask the odor. Masking doesn’t work with these pets – neutralize and deodorize is the only solution!
The Weekly Bath Dogs
Bathing your dog’s weekly is not ideal. They have natural oils that protects their skin and coat from harm and frequent bathing can wash these oils away, thus drying out the coat and harming the skin. I recommend two products for these frequent bathers.
- The first is a very mild shampoo designed for puppies. This product will not be the best cleaner because it is typically tearless and has softer detergents in it, however, because this pet is bathed often I cannot imagine them getting very dirty.
- The second product would be a Waterless Shampoo that comes in a spray bottle. Waterless is an excellent way to spot clean your pet instead of bathing. Works great on face, feet and backside. It will neutralize the area if it smells and will clean a mess too.
Sensitive Skin Pets
Hypo-Allergenic products are best on these pets that do not necessarily need a medicated shampoo but instead have sensitivity to many products and foods. Hypo-Allergenic products are not harsh and will help prevent itching, discomfort or breakouts.
Flea and Tick Infestation
If you’re pet has bugs; we feel your pain! A quick note on the various flea and tick products on the market:
- Never, ever let this get into your pet’s eyes – it will cause serious damage.
- You do have natural and chemical alternatives. The chemical one will kill the bugs better but it also has to be used sparingly because it is so strong. (Think of it like head lice shampoo for children. You cannot apply it daily and typically have to wait over a week to reapply). Same holds true for your dog if you go the chemical flea shampoo route.
- Flea shampoo will kill only the fleas on your dog currently but it will do nothing for future invaders.
Still not sure?
With so many choices on the market, take your time and think about what exactly your baby needs. When in doubt, contact your local groomer for more information. They can recommend certain products that they trust, plus let you know exactly what type of shampoo your pet will need.