Grooming is a big part of every dog’s life, and grooming includes bath time. Some dogs love it, and others hate it. No matter how they feel about taking a bath, one thing’s certain; using a safe shampoo for your pup is an important part of making the experience pain-free.
There are a ton of dog shampoos on the market, so how do you determine what a good option is? We’re here to go over every aspect of dog shampoos and how to pick one for your four-legged friend!
Why Does My Pup Need Shampoo?
Bath time could be a whole lot easier without the need for shampoo, that’s true. However, making sure that our canine companions are washed with a good shampoo has a number of benefits beyond just the fragrance it provides.
- Regular bathing helps keep your pup’s coat clean and reduces skin irritation.
- It keeps parasites off of your pup.
- Bathing can be a bonding experience if approached positively (with treats in hand, of course).
Bathing makes our pups smell good, but overall it’s got an effect on their health, as well as the relationship between them and you. It’s a necessary experience.
How Often Should I Be Bathing My Pup?
Ultimately, the only real answer is not the one most people want to hear: You need to bathe your pup as often as they need it. How do you determine when they need it? By looking at a couple of key things:
- Coat Length - Dogs with shorter coats need much less frequent bathing in most cases, while dogs with longer coats need more frequent bathing to prevent matting and tangling.
- Daily Activity - What does your pup do all day? If they’re out in the dirt getting grimey, they’re probably going to need to take a bath more often.
How To Identify Ingredients in a Shampoo
When you’re looking for a shampoo, you’re bound to have questions about how to choose the best one for your dog. Thankfully, most shampoos have covered what coats their product works for. You’ll see packaging clearly labeled, designating if the shampoo is best for short coats or long coats.
Something that isn’t always covered, however, is the ingredients. We’ve got the most common ingredients to avoid, as well as what you’ll want to look for in a good shampoo.
Ingredients to Avoid
When you’re looking for a shampoo for your pup, be sure to avoid the following ingredients, as they can be harmful to your four-legged friend. These will be listed in the actual ingredients list on the label.
When a manufacturer lists this as one of their ingredients, it simply means that they’re hiding one of the following ingredients on this list from the eyes of their customers. You want an ingredients list from the manufacturer to be clear and mystery-free. This is one of the worst things you can find on the list, so be sure to avoid it entirely.
Artificial Fragrances or Colors
One of the biggest things we avoid as people is artificial ingredients, so the same rule of thumb should apply to products we purchase for our pets. Artificial fragrances and colors are often made from harsh chemicals that can seriously damage the health of your pet when they’re exposed to them over long periods of time.
If it’s artificial, it’s not good enough for your canine companion’s coat.
Parabens are preservatives that, quite frankly, need more research. However, early results from paraben studies indicate that they are stored in the body and lead to a whole range of unwanted health risks, including cancer.
While mineral oil may sound like a nice ingredient, it’s far from it. Mineral oil is known to create a “protective” barrier over your pet’s skin, helping it to retain moisture. However, it also prevents your pup’s skin from releasing its own natural oils, which can cause serious skin problems over time.
Another ingredient used to help the skin retain moisture but can often cause serious skin irritations in pups, just like mineral oil. Additionally, it is often used as a penetration aid, meaning that it helps other chemicals pass through your pup’s skin as it conditions it. This means that any number of chemicals can affect your dog in addition to this one.
This ingredient actually starts out relatively harmless, like sorbitol, a sugar alcohol made from corn syrup. However, in the process of changing sorbitol into polysorbates, ingredients are added that are known to be carcinogenic, and they aren’t always removed entirely from the final product.
All of that may seem a little overwhelming, which is understanding. However, these are ingredients that are very easy to identify on labels and can go a long way in making sure what you're giving your pup is the best option for them.
What Ingredients To Look For
When looking for a dog shampoo, you simply want to look for natural ingredients and a shampoo that’s clearly labeled when ingredients that are harder to identify are present.
This indicates that the company is transparent with what they are putting into their products, something that you want from any company, but especially one that makes things for your four-legged friend.
How To Choose Your Shampoo
Now that you’ve been educated about what ingredients to avoid, it’s time to break down the process of actually picking the right shampoo for your pooch!
1. Consider Your Dog’s Coat
When picking a shampoo, the type of coat your dog has plays an important part in picking the right product. Thicker coats will need a more rigorous shampoo, while shorter coats will need something a bit softer. Some shampoos available are made specifically for coats of different lengths, as well as coats of different textures.
2. Consider What Your Dog Does
Does your pup spend a ton of time in the dirt? You’ll need a shampoo that cleans their coat better than a dog that spends most of their time inside. Your dog’s routine and outside behaviors are important in picking the right product.
3. Read the Ingredients
Once you’ve narrowed the list of shampoos down, read through the ingredients. This will ultimately determine what shampoo you end up buying. You’ll want to identify naturally derived shampoos that are free of parabens and sulfates.
These are going to be the best for your pup. Then, if you’ve got more than one option left after reading the ingredients, you can pick based on the scent and what you think your pup will like better!
The Best Bath
Picking the right shampoo for your pup is an important task, as you want to make sure that whatever you’re using is safe. Be sure to choose a shampoo that avoids any of the ingredients we’ve listed here and one that will clean their coat the right way.
Grooming is a necessary part of having a canine companion, and by using our guide, you can help make bath time safe and enjoyable!
Dog Shampoos: How to Find the Right One for Your Dog | American Kennel Club
How Often Should You Wash Your Dog? | The Spruce Pets
Fragrances | Children's Environmental Health Network