Your dog constantly scratches until he's an itchy mess, maybe till he has open sores on his body. Depending on the cause of his misery, your vet may recommend using a sulfur shampoo on your favored friend. Sulfur shampoos are essentially dandruff shampoos, available over-the-counter at pet stores.
Sulfur shampoos generally contain 2 percent sulfur, and most also contain salicylic acid. In humans, sulfur shampoo is used for dandruff and other scalp issues; the use in canines is much the same. When shopping for a sulfur shampoo for your dog, look for products that use a variant of sulfur in the name. Read the label before purchasing to make sure the shampoo does contain salicylic acid and is recommended for the type of skin issues facing your dog.
Seborrhea, a skin disease that causes hair loss, scaliness, oiliness and itching, may be treatable with sulfur shampoos. Since skin diseases often mimic each other, take your dog to the vet for a definite diagnosis. More common in certain breeds, seborrhea may have a genetic component. It usually manifests itself in susceptible dogs before the age of 2. Dogs diagnosed with seborrhea with "moderate to marked scaling and mild oiliness" benefit most from bathing in sulfur shampoos, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
If your dog suffer from yeast infections, your vet may recommend sulfur shampoo baths. Usually the result of too much Malassezia pachydermatis, a yeast found on the skin of most dogs, the infection generally presents itself on the face, ears and genitals. In severe cases, it affects the dog's entire body. In addition to scratching, signs of a yeast infection include foul odor, skin thickening and blackening, and hair loss.
Dogs can suffer from a variety of allergies. While a flea allergy would probably not require a sulfur shampoo, your dog might benefit from it for other types of allergic skin conditions. Your vet can conduct tests to determine exactly what environmental or other factor is causing the allergic reaction.
When bathing your dog with a sulfur shampoo, use warm water. Apply the shampoo thoroughly, working up a good lather and getting it into the skin. With long-haired dogs, make sure the sulfur shampoo has more than superficial contact with the skin. Leave the shampoo on for approximately 15 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Don't let the lather get into his eyes, mouth or nose. Always read the shampoo label before bathing your dog in case the general directions differ.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.