Coat Care for Dogs in the Winter

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Winter…snow, dry air, and heating from the furnace.  All lead to itchy skin and lackluster coats on dogs in the winter.  So what can you do?

By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,

Avoid using human shampoos on your dogs

Human skin is normally more acidic- dogs more alkaline. Dog skin pH is about neutral, like pure water, while humans tend toward acid; which is why a vinegar or lemon rinse will make human hair really shiny. But even human baby shampoo can dry out a dog.

Here’s the thing-

ALL shampoo manufacturers draw from the same ingredients and ingredient suppliers, be it for human or canine use. The exception would be, of course, pesticides that kill ticks and fleas. As much as the manufacturers would like you to believe that there is a big difference between human and dog shampoo, the reality is, there’s not. The real difference lies in each individual shampoo or conditioner’s ingredients. This accounts for the wide range in the quality of human and dog shampoos.

Here’s the kicker-

The FDA now requires human shampoo manufacturers to list all ingredients on their products- dog shampoos don’t have to, and it’s a rarity to find one that will disclose their ingredients, even if you call the company and ask.

I use a good dog shampoo unless they get into grease, or like some rescue dogs, have never had a bath in their life. Then I use Palmolive dish soap, followed by dog shampoo to return the pH. In the winter for my black schnauzer, I rinse him in diluted Listerine to prevent flakes. I don’t know why it works, but it does.

Here’s Kim Walker’s shampoo recipe from Sharron’s Grooming, Cactus Canine Center

22 ounces regular Ivory dish soap. (If you can only find the “ultra”, use 1/2)

2 cups regular white vinegar ( as an acidifier. Use white only- no substitutes! )

2 ounces glycerin ( as a humectant. You can find this at any drugstore. )

Put all of it into a one-gallon bottle, and fill with warm water.

That’s it! It won’t feel like “regular” shampoo because it doesn’t have any thickening agents in it, but it will work just fine.

Ultimately the true key to healthy skin and coat is diet!

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