Skin and Coat
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Choosing a Pet Shampoo for Your Dog or Cat

Pet shampoo vs. human shampoo

Pet shampoo for dogs and cats is not the same as shampoo for people. Human shampoos are designed for a more acidic skin with many sweat glands and are often too harsh for pet skin. Inexpensive, harsh, or detergent-type shampoos harm delicate pet skin and strip essential skin oils. These human shampoos were designed to remove dirt and "products" like hair spray and mousse from human hair. Occasionally using an expensive, moisturizing human shampoo is fine for pets, but using human shampoos consistently can make pet skin unhealthy.

Rather than using human shampoos routinely, use a product engineered to benefit pet skin. Oatmeal & Aloe Vera Shampoo is one of the most highly rated pet shampoos.

Key facts about pet shampoos
  • Pet skin is thinner than human skin
  • Pet skin doesn't have sweat glands, except in the footpads
Soothing pet shampoos

Soothing pet shampoos remove grease and odors from the pet's skin without stripping skin oils. These pet shampoos ease skin irritation and leave flea and tick topical medications intact because they are formulated with special ingredients, including emollients. Emollients increase the moisture in the skin so that skin and hair remain soft and flexible. Among the ingredients used in soothing shampoos are oatmeal, aloe vera, Vitamin E, and fatty acids. Examples of soothing pet shampoos are: Oatmeal & Aloe Vera Shampoo, Epi Soothe Shampoo, and Allermyl Shampoo.

Medicated pet shampoos

Medicated shampoos treat skin problems, such as mites, bacterial and yeast infections, scaling, greasiness, itching, fleas, and odor. Some medicated shampoos are good cleansers, some are not. For example, ChlorhexiDerm shampoos are not good cleansers. Medicated shampoos are formulated with a variety of ingredients, such as tea tree oil, chamomile, calendula, miconazole, coal tar, and chlorhexidine. Most medicated shampoos are purchased over-the-counter, but shampoos with high concentrations of active drug ingredients, such as 4% chlorhexidine or 1% hydrocortisone, require prescriptions.Examples of medicated shampoos are Allermyl Shampoo, Keto Chlor Shampoo, Malaseb Shampoo, Be Soothed Shampoo, and Be Super Clean Shampoo.

Flea control shampoos for pets

Any shampoo left on for 10 minutes kills fleas, but unless it is a shampoo formulated to control fleas, such as Be Flea Free Shampoo, there is no residual action. This means that when pets are bathed with regular shampoos, fleas in the yard or home will jump back on the pet after the bath. For even more protection against fleas, consider giving your pet a monthly flea preventative.

After bathing with a shampoo, allow 24-48 hours before applying topical flea medications. This time allows the natural oils to spread over the skin so the topical product can bind the oils. If you've just put a topical flea product on your pet, wait 24-48 hours before bathing with shampoo. For pets bathed regularly use a flea spray for protection in between baths.

Pet conditioners

Pet conditioners make it easier to comb out dog's hair. With pet conditioners and cream rinses, the hair shafts become smoother so the hairs slide rather than tangle. It's easy to think of pet shampoos as being for your pet's skin but the rinses or conditioner is for the hair itself. Even with cream rinse or conditioner, matted hair is not easy to comb through, so cut matted hair out before bathing your pet.

Examples of pet conditioners are Oatmeal & Aloe Vera Conditioner and Epi Soothe Oatmeal Cream Rinse.