Regular bathing using a doggie shampoo helps keep Fido looking and smelling his best without irritating his skin like human shampoo can. The ingredients contained in dog shampoo are specially formulated to clean your pup's coat of dirt, grime and unpleasant odors.
Besides water, which gives your pup's shampoo its liquid texture, cleansers are usually the main ingredients in Fido's doggie shampoo. These cleansers include the sulfate-based detergents including sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate, according to Women's Health. You may also find natural cleansers like vegetable glycerin soap and saponified coconut and olive oils. These ingredients, known as surfactants, help to loosen, encapsulate and remove unsightly dirt from your pup's skin and coat, according to the Washington Post. While some surfactants create a lot of lather, others don't and additional foaming agents like cocamide DEA or disodium cocoamphodiacetate may also be included in the shampoo to create suds during a bath.
To keep your pup's skin and coat well-moisturized, his canine shampoo may contain some emollients and humectants. Emollients are usually vegetable- or mineral-based oils, including jojoba, macadamia, safflower, corn, almond and mineral oils. The oils add shine and silkiness to Fido's coat, according to the Animal Sense Pet Products website. Humectants rehydrate your pup's skin after cleansers wash some of his natural oils away. They include lactic acid, sodium lactate, urea, propolene glycol and glycerin, according to "Muller and Kirk's Small Animal Dermatology." To properly mix emollients and humectants with the other ingredients in the shampoo, chemicals known as emulsifiers are added to the shampoos. These include glycerin, lanolin and alcohols, according to "Making Natural Liquid Soaps."
Natural ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera help to soothe itchy, irritated skin and are included in many doggie shampoo formulations. Tea tree oil can also help with skin inflammation and dandruff; it even acts as a natural flea-fighter, according to the Earthbath website. Essential oils like lemon, peppermint and orange oil may also help fight fleas while imparting a pleasant odor onto your dog's coat, states Dogster. Antibacterial shampoos contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, chlorhexidine and triclosan, which not only help calm skin irritations but also aid in healing any skin infections your pup may have. Most antibacterial or antifungal shampoos require a prescription from your vet, so consult with her before using them on your pup.
While doggie shampoos contain many of the same ingredients that you'll find in our shampoos, the balance of the ingredients is different, as is the pH of the shampoo itself, which can dry out Fido's skin. Flea and tick shampoos contain insecticides such as pyrethrin or permethrin, which can be toxic to young pups under 12 weeks old. For pups with skin allergies, look for hypoallergenic shampoo, which is free of dyes, fragrances and other ingredients that can cause skin reactions. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers list their doggie shampoo's ingredients on the bottle. Stick to brands that do, so that you know exactly what you're bathing your pup in, recommends the Whole Dog Journal.
- The Whole Dog Journal: Dog Shampoo Tests and Whole Dog Journal's Recommendations
- Dogster: Dog Shampoo Can Be More Hazardous Than You Think
- Earthbath: F.A.Q.
- Women's Health: Shampoo Chemicals Have You Confused?
- The Washington Post: Secrets of Shampoo
- Muller and Kirk's Small Animal Dermatology; William H. Miller Jr. et al.
- Making Natural Liquid Soaps: Herbal Shower Gels, Conditioning Shampoos, Moisturizing Hand Soaps, Luxurious Bubble Baths, and More; Catherine Failor
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images