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To Shampoo or To Not Shampoo

Posted by Daryl Conner on Feb 17th 2022

To Shampoo or To Not Shampoo

Some old wives’ tales hang on with the tenacity of a terrier. One of them is that dogs that are bathed too often will suffer from dry skin. Many a person has said to me, “The book for my dog’s breed says to never wash them more than every 6 to 12 months, or it will dry out his coat.” I suspect this myth came from the time when pet shampoos were harsh products that had to work hard to wash out months’ worth of dust, dirt, grime, and sebum.

The fact of the matter is that a clean, conditioned, brushed, and dried pet looks, feels, and smells so much more pleasing than a dirty one. As dogs have moved from predominantly living in yards to sharing our homes and furniture, keeping our pets clean has taken on a new level of importance. Yet when people read in respected books cautions about over-washing, it causes understandable concern.

The good news is that modern shampoos are carefully formulated to clean well without being harsh. I asked shampoo manufacturer Dave Campanella from Best Shot to help me understand how pet shampoos work. He said, “Shampoos use surfactants (short for surface active agents.) One end of the surfactant molecule is attracted to water. The other is repelled by water but attracted to oily substances. Anionic detergents work by reducing the surface tension of a liquid, allowing the shampoo to spread and penetrate better, and remove the thin layer of oil known as sebum from the hair and skin.” Making pet shampoos has become a big business, and lots of research has been done to produce mild, yet highly effective products. Today’s pet shampoos leave our dogs clean and fresh without being too harsh.

An example of this can be seen any time you observe a dog show. Many of those lovely dogs, with their glowing, flowing coats, are bathed every week. Some are even washed daily during the show season. Never will you find more beautiful, healthy-looking dogs. This is proof that frequent baths with high-quality products does no harm. It is recommended that every shampoo is followed by a conditioner to replace the oils the shampoo removes, smooth the cuticles of the hair shafts, and reduce static.

It’s time to wash the myth of frequent baths down the drain. Enjoying a freshly cleaned pet is one of life’s pleasures that no one should deny themselves based on old, inaccurate news. Wash on!