Winter Washings for Wagging Tails
by Dr. Margaret Meier Jones, DVM CVSMT
As we approach the end of fall and the beginning of winter, we see an increase in rain, sleet, slush, and snow. And, although it’s maybe fun for our furry friends to play in, we field many calls asking us whether or not it’s safe to bathe our pets this time of year after they’ve taken a romp in the mud these precipitations often create. How often can we bathe our pets without causing them to have dry skin and rough hair coats as a result? What products are safe and effective?Are there any good home remedies or products we can trust?
Many veterinary experts believe that routine grooming of your pet, including bathing, should be done every eight to twelve weeks. Bathing more frequently than this can lead to excessively dry skin or other skin problems, such as infection. Of course, we do recommend bathing your pet if they get excessively dirty. However, if this is happening frequently during the winter months, use of dry shampoos and leave-on spray conditioners may be a gentler way to manage the situation. And, if you are noticing excessive dandruff or a foul smell emanating from your pet, a trip to your veterinarian may be in order, as prescription shampoo may be required.
Pet products are a multi-million dollar industry with thousands of skin care products available to us. We do emphasize that when looking for a grooming product for your furry friend, PLEASE ensure the product is safe for cats and dogs; and NOT a product intended for humans. The pH of the human products is too harsh for our furry friends and can truly harm your pet’s skin. We recommend Epi-Soothe Oatmeal shampoo and cream rinse by Virbac at our clinic, but some good over-the-counter commercial products on the market include Natural Pet Shampoo for Dogs and Cats by Maple Holistics, and Lola and Max Dog Shampoo by Lola and Max. If you’re looking for something you can put together at home, you can make a dry shampoo to use on your pet by taking 1 cup cornstarch and ½ cup baking soda. Mix these together well, place them into a glass jar, and cover with a sprinkle lid.
If you know your pet has sensitivity to corn, use this product sparingly. For a leave-on conditioner, place 2 teaspoons of rosemary (prefer fresh) in 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and steep for ten minutes. Strain the rosemary and place into a mister bottle to readily apply as needed. Finally, for an anti-itch spray, place 1 cup old-fashioned oats in 4 cups water overnight at room temperature. Strain through a cheese cloth and place into a mister bottle to apply to those dry, itchy areas that can develop once we turn on the forced-air heat to keep warm. And, as always, if you’d rather have someone else handle the mess, our professional groomers are available to help!