Is your dog’s hair normal, meaning not greasy or dry? Is the coat free of knots and does he/she have healthy skin? If you’ve answered yes to all of these, then you can go with a basic everyday cleansing shampoo. There are many different and wonderful products on the market today. If you are looking for more natural products then you can go organic. If you’re partial to strong, yummy scents then you can base your decision on a wonderfully aromatic shampoo. If you personally don’t want any kind of lingering scents on your dog, go with something hypoallergenic. These will be dye and odor free. Hartz makes a really great, good cleansing, clean rinsing, dye-free hypoallergenic shampoo. You can also pick a shampoo with a conditioner built into it; often referred to as a “conditioning shampoo”. This will make your bathing job one step quicker. Hartz also makes several nicely scented, good cleaning, conditioning shampoos, some of which are aloe-based. However, if you feel your dog’s coat is a little on the greasier side you might want to skip the conditioner altogether.
Now, if your dog’s coat seems dry you may want to opt for a crème rinse conditioner. These are usually thicker, and are left on a bit longer and need to be rinsed well. For adding extra moisture to the coat, a conditioning finisher spray can even follow the grooming. Just be careful not to over condition the coat, as you run the risk of weighing it down and making it appear greasy.
When choosing the right products for your dog, the most important thing to consider is their skin condition. This can get tricky if you’re not sure of a condition he/she may or may not have. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian. As a rule of thumb, red, blotchy and/or raised bumps are never a good sign when seen on your dog’s skin. If this is something you’ve never noticed, again, please consult with your physician before making any decisions about grooming. However, if your dog has a simple case of dry, flaky skin, some dandruff, or even mild allergies, a good oatmeal shampoo is best. Oatmeal-based shampoos are of the mildest and most soothing varieties available to the grooming world. So, when in doubt, go with oatmeal. An aloe-based shampoo can sometimes be nice and soothing for an itchy-skinned canine friend. Hartz makes several, very nice aloe-based varieties. They smell wonderful, leave the coat soft and shiny as well as clean. Again, if your dog is clawing at itself uncontrollably, a bath should not necessarily be your first course of action. However, if your dog has already been diagnosed with a specific skin condition and you’ve already been advised on what products to use, then by all means proceed. If this is the case, your veterinarian has already hopefully made the proper shampoo recommendation for you. Sometimes you may even be using a pharmaceutical grade shampoo. If this is the case, it is very important that you please read the instructions on the label of the bottle, and follow them to the “T”.
Now, assuming you’ve chosen a shampoo and conditioner you’re happy with, let’s think about some other products that will make your job easier. There are a number of detanglers on the market that help with the longer coated dogs; the Poodle, Shih Tzu, Maltese and the like. Detangler spray will help loosen knots, hopefully making it possible for you to brush them out. Please note, if your dog has 5 or more quarter-sized knots in various spots throughout the body, I would not attempt a bath. If you cannot easily brush these knots out, even after using detangler spray, please call a grooming professional. It is strongly inadvisable to put a severely knotted or even matted dog into a bath. Water will tighten-up knots, shrinking them closer to your pet’s skin. This will make your furry friend very uncomfortable and a successful grooming session is very unlikely at this point.
When grooming our pets we of course want the experience to be as fun-loving and positive as possible. Of course, there may be some water splashed about (usually on the owners) and some dirty suds to clean up afterward. But if in the end this is the worst of it, then you can pat yourself on the back! You’ve done a fine job, and I’m sure that “Fluffy” would say the same if he or she could.
Written by Erica L. Sanfiz
Just 4 Paws Pet Spa Owner & Professional Pet Stylist