Shampoos that are designed to be used on pets can do more than just clean your pet’s coat or skin. Shampoos for pets may be used to treat skin conditions, allergies or parasite infestations such as fleas. Human shampoos are not an option for use on pets. We have more acidic skin and the shampoos we use are too harsh for pet skin. Such shampoos can harm their skin and strip it from essential oils.
Pet shampoos can remove dirt and odors from our pets’ skin. Oatmeal, aloe vera, fatty acids and Vitamin E are used in soothing shampoos for pets. Other ingredients can be substances that have antiseborrheic and antibacterial properties. Emollient shampoos can add oils to the skin and relieve the symptoms of dry or itchy skin. There are solid shampoos or bars and gels. Powdered shampoos can work without water.
Pet shampoos are usually full of chemicals, just like shampoos for people. Ingredients such as sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate or propylene glycol are approved by FDA but there are growing concerns about the potential risk of such substances. Skin irritation and hair loss may be associated with products that contain such chemicals.
Pyrethrins are substances that were used in pet shampoos for flea control. Unfortunately, it seems that these substances were associated with increased risk for autism disorders in children. A Californian case control study on household pesticide use revealed that mothers and children who have been exposed to products containing pyrethrin showed in increased risk for autism spectrum disorders.
While pyrethrin has a very short half-life outdoors, in pet hairs it lives longer, thus causing people to be more exposed. Pregnant mothers who were exposed to pesticides posed an increased risk to give birth to a child with autistic disorder.
There are alternatives to such shampoos that contain non-toxic ingredients derived from plants. Some of them are organic and biodegradable. And flea prevention cannot be achieved by using only shampoo.
While cats that live indoors are easier to keep clean, they do need to be washed from time to time. There are dry shampoos that can be used on water-phobic cats. They contain lavender essence that can calm the cat.
Dogs can be easier to wash than cats, but as they age they may be affected by joint pain and it becomes more difficult to get them into a tub. Cleansers in towelette form may be the solution for such pets.
There are natural products that act as flea repellents. Cedar, mint, rosemary or lavender are some such examples. An essential oil that is effective in repelling fleas is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has natural antibacterial properties and oils that can moisturize the skin.
Some shampoos contain conditioners that keep the coat smooth and smell nice. Natural dog conditioners include Aloe or Shea butter.
Allergy induced skin problems are present in 12 to 20% of our dogs and cats. This means they need frequent bathing and hypoallergenic shampoos. Shampoo therapy has become a component of treatment for most skin disorders in our pets.