Scale, oil and water – Bathing for balance

Bath Dog website

November 18, 2014 –  When your pet is scaling, flaking, peeling or just plain dealing with dandruff; do you muscle your way to the medicine cabinet and reach for the first moisturizing spray, lotion or balm you can find?  When there’s more pet hair on the floor than on your furry friend; do you reach for the Rogaine?  When your pet smells like a wet tennis shoe, feels like a grease ball or is having a bad hair day, do you chalk it up to being typical for animals?  Wrong, wrong and WRONG!   Scaling rarely reflects “dryness,” shedding seldom relates to “balding,” and normal animals are not odiferous, oily or unkempt.  Bottom line:  Go back to the basics… seek out the shampoo and, yes, bathe your pet!

You must be kidding!  Everyone knows that…

Pets should never be bathed.

Bathing will wash away the natural oils.

Shampoos dry out the skin.      

Many myths surround the act of bathing dogs and cats; most of them are likely due to the fact that we don’t like doing it, they don’t like having it done, and the benefits of bathing are thought to be exclusive to humans.

We and our pets both share three important ingredients for healthy skin and hair… a delicate balance of scale, oil and water.  Too much scale; and the skin and hair look dull and dry.  Too much oil; and the skin plugs up, the hair falls out and the microbes overpopulate.  Too much water; and the skin becomes spongy and fragile.  Rule of thumb:  “Wet the dry skin and dry the wet skin.”   Bathing wets the skin, removes the scale, decreases the oil and eliminates microbes (bacteria and yeast) and allergens.  It’s a “Wash-Win” solution.

Scaling (aka flaking, peeling, dandruff) is Mother Nature’s way of protecting, replacing, and mending the skin.  It happens year-round in all of us, and goes undetected until it piles up.  The most common causes of excessive scaling are irritation and inflammation triggered by oily skin, topical flea products, insect bites, shedding, improper diet, and allergies.  The best treatment is bathing with medicated pet shampoos designed for removal of excess scale (keratolytic).

Oiliness (aka seborrhea, acne) is caused by a buildup of natural oils; generally related to breed, age, gender and location.  Unlike humans, pets have oil glands covering their entire body, but the oiliest parts of their skin are the chin, ears, back, paws, tail and bottom (perianal, anal sacs).  Both yeast and bacteria will grow better and faster in these areas.  The best treatment is bathing with medicated pet shampoos designed for removal of excess oil (antiseborrheic).

Moisture weakens the skin, promotes bacterial and yeast growth, and leads to odor.  The primary reservoirs of water and infection are the corner of the eyes, lower lips, ears, paws, vulva, prepuce, and rectum.  The best treatments are regular cleaning, antimicrobial pet shampoos, wipes, drying agents (powder), moisture barriers and grooming (shorten the hair).

Take home message:  Healthy hair and silky skin require regular bathing to maintain the balance of scale, oil and water; especially if you’re a dog or cat.

Sing along… Clean and dry is the reason why,

                      Shampoo for our pets, we must buy;

                      With a wipe for the eye, and some powder too,

                      They’ll soon be feeling as good as new.