About 95% of a dog’s body is covered with hair. Besides making the dog soft and huggable, this coat helps protect the skin and keep it healthy. In both dogs and people, the skin is the largest and one of the most complex organs of the body. It’s a natural barrier that prevents dehydration and provides protection from the environment.

In an attempt to keep the hair coat clean and fresh, many pet owners bathe their dogs with their favorite made-for-people shampoo, cream rinse or body wash. Unfortunately, the pH levels of human skin and canine skin are quite different. Products made to protect more acidic human skin can be troublesome for a dog’s more alkaline skin. If a shampoo formulated for human skin is used on a dog, it may disrupt the dog’s skin pH. This can create conditions for bacteria, fungi and parasites to get out of control. Furthermore, the shampoo may dry out the skin, which then becomes itchy. As the dog scratches, he can nick or cut his skin, allowing microorganisms to enter and start a cycle of skin problems.

Everyone in your clinic can play a part in educating pet owners that maintaining a dog’s coat starts with an awareness of skin care. To avoid bad hair days, recommend only a pH-balanced, moisturizing shampoo formulated specifically for dogs and made to help maintain the pet’s natural skin oils.