When it comes to dog shampoo, one kind does not fit all. Some shampoos are designed for treating certain conditions or are intended to remove parasites from the dog's body. Others are meant to whiten, brighten or condition the coat. Yet others are simply intended to remove dirt after a fun romp in the yard. Understanding what each shampoo does is vital to choosing the appropriate tool for the task -- or bath -- at hand.
Some shampoos make a dog's coat look whiter or darker, using enhancing agents that remove the yellow oxidation from urine or add bluing or bleach to create a more vibrant white coat. The blue or purple optical enhancers in some whitening shampoos cause the coat to reflect more light, making the coat appear shinier. Whitening shampoos have the same shine-producing effect on black coats, but specific color-enhancing shampoos are available for both black and brown coats.
Shampoos have been developed to control fleas, mites, ticks and other external parasites. Insect-control shampoos are intended to eliminate parasites already on the pet and to leave a short-term barrier preventing reinfestation. These shampoos can be extremely toxic, particularly if they contain pyrethrins as an ingredient. Toy-sized and other small dogs are more likely to experience toxicity from insect-control shampoos and other populations, such as puppies, pregnant dogs or otherwise debilitated dogs.
Medicated shampoos, which include antifungal, antiseptic and antibacterial varieties, are used to treat dogs for specific conditions. Many medicated shampoos are only available from a veterinarian or by prescription only. Medicated shampoos are typically used to treat a particular condition and are discontinued once the condition no longer exists. Chlorhexidine and sulfur are two commonly used ingredients in medicated shampoos.
Shampoos for Coat and Skin Care
Some shampoos are intended to soothe a dog's sensitive skin or to perform a combination of tasks. Many coat conditioning or softening shampoos, for example, contain fragrant oils and may also be moisturizing.
Texturizing shampoos are another form of specialized shampoo. These shampoos are intended to enhance the rough, wiry terrier coat texture. Texturizing shampoos are often used on dogs competing in conformation shows, to maintain the texture of their coats despite frequent bathing.
By Jo Chester
Grooming Smarter: How Whitening Shampoos Work
PetEducation.com: Flea Control and Prevention
PetEducation.com: Pyrethrin and Permethrin Toxicity in Dogs and Cats
Dog's Best Life: Choose the Right Shampoo and Bath Products for Your Dog
PetEducation.com: Dog Shampoos: The Function of Common Ingredients
About the Author
Jo Chester holds a certificate in pet dog training from Triple Crown Academy for Dog Trainers. She has trained dogs for competition in conformation, Rally and traditional obedience and agility. Chester has two goats, chickens, rabbits, a collie and a pet rat, in addition to several much-loved Toy Fox Terriers.