When it is bath time for your dog but his skin is itchy and flaky, what kind of shampoo should you use?
Your choice is extremely important, because if you select the wrong one, you can make the problem worse.
Keep in mind that both dogs and humans have skin that is covered with a light barrier that is slightly acidic and is designed to protect us from viruses and bacteria in the air. Called the acid mantle, it keeps our skin healthy and hydrated.
Each time we bathe with a shampoo, it washes this layer away. Because of that, most shampoos include moisturizers to replace the acid mantle. Otherwise, skin becomes dry and peeling or even itchy and bumpy with hives.
In the world of shampoo advertising, the acid mantle is described as the pH balance of your skin.
What is vital to remember is that human skin and dog skin requires different pH balances to be healthy and hydrated. So if you use a human shampoo on a dog, you will hurt their acid mantle and expose them to skin problems. The bacteria builds up, the dog smells, so the owner shampoos them even more often, and soon serious harm happens to the dog’s skin.
Rule number one then, is to always use a dog shampoo on your dog and find one that is balanced for your dog’s skin. Normally that would be a pH balance of about seven but it may need to be higher if the dog’s skin is itchy and dry.
Your dog’s skin may be itchy from other reasons than a pH imbalance. For example, some dogs suffer from allergies that flair up in different seasons and others get skin infections.
To treat dry itchy skin and help it restore its balance for your dog, look for shampoos that have hydrocortisone, a steroid medication that reduces inflammation in the skin. Another helpful ingredient is lidocaine which helps to reduce the itch and tackle the inflammation as well. Fragrance free shampoo should also be used on dogs with sensitive skin and look for dye-free substances as well.
An oat protein based shampoo is another option for the pet with itchy flaky skin. If they are suffering from allergies, it will be soothing and less likely to irritate them further.
(photo credit LuAnn Snawder Photography)