twenty-seven years of veterinary practice, I have dispensed a lot of
advice. Yet, I find myself returning time and again to a message that is so
simple and basic, that to ignore repeating it would be the biggest
disservice to my patients as well as my clients.
Two of the essential
principles of pet ownership are to always apply common sense to any
situation and to observe for cause and effect relationships. By utilizing
this advice your stress level will be lower, your pet will be healthier and
happier and your veterinary bills will be dramatically less.
For example, let us examine
the issue of how often to bathe your dog. Very often I see clients who have
been told by well meaning advisors that to subject their pet to any more
than one or two baths a year would be harmful to the well being of the dogs
skin and coat. When asked if they thought that the advice was correct most
would reply that they had wondered about it but yet ignored their gut
feelings and lived with their unwashed and odiferous companions.
In order to gently point out
the error of their ways, I would ask about their own shampooing patterns.
Most people would admit to washing their own hair several times a week. Why
did they feel that to wash their dog even once per week would have a dire
Forty years ago the shampoos
that were available for pets were essentially detergents that stripped the
skin of dirt (which was good) as well as all the oils that were important
for a healthy coat. Hence, the myth began that to bath a dog would lead to
a dry coat. Over the years, the formulations of the shampoos changed and
conditioning agents were added to the detergents thus allowing the skin to
be cleaned without damaging the precious oils.
I tell my clients that ninety
percent of the dogs could be bathed every day with ninety percent of the
shampoos on the market without any problems, although I routinely recommend
bathing every one to two weeks. But, here is where the cause and effect
principle comes into play.
Bathing may not cure a skin
problem but it should never make it worse. However, there may be times
where a particular shampoo may cause a reaction particular to that
individual. If you are observant enough to notice redness, flakiness or
increased itching after a bath, don't condemn the institution of bathing,
just use a different shampoo.
Specific skin conditions often
require specialized medicated shampoo. Consult with your local veterinarian
for the professional advice, which will benefit your pet.
WEEK: Flaking skin:
what does it mean?