What’s the deal with medicated shampoos for dogs? That’s what a reader needed to understand – here’s what I told her!
Q: My dog has a skin problem, and the veterinarian recommends using a medicated shampoo. What can you tell me about how these products function?
A: Medicated shampoos are external treatments, meaning they’re applied to the body. They may be used to remove scaling or crusting; fight parasites, bacteria or fungi; or relieve itchiness.
Depending on your dog’s skin problem, a medicated shampoo may have one or more agents, the active ingredients that do the work. Antibacterial agents contain benzoyl peroxide, chlorhexidine, triclosan and salicylic acid. They each work in different ways, typically by assaulting bacterial cells, ruining plasma membranes or lowering the skin’s pH, for example.
Antifungal shampoos work against dermatophytes — fungi that can infect skin, hair and nails by colonizing keratin tissues — and Malassezia, a kind of yeast that can overpopulate the skin. Common antifungal ingredients contain miconazole and chlorhexidine, both of which could also have antibacterial properties. It’s important to have a definitive analysis for a fungal infection, because not every agent works against both dermatophytes and yeasts.
Anti-itch shampoos are generally used in combination with other drugs to help soothe the itch. They may function by moisturizing dry skin or supplying a cooling or tingling sense. A standard kind you may have seen is colloidal oatmeal. Its properties contain a high concentration of starches, different kinds of phenols and saponins, all which work together to give colloidal oatmeal its cleansing, moisturizing, soothing and anti inflammatory effects.
Dogs with scaly, crusty or oily skin problems typically need a shampoo which has antiseborrheic agents including sulfur, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Their occupation will be to normalize the skin.
Be certain to ask your veterinarian about potential side effects. Depending on the kind of shampoo, these may contain dry or irritated skin. Some merchandises may bleach cloth or hair.
Read more, including the best way to deal with a compulsive cat, in this week’s Pet Connection!