What’s in a Pet Shampoo?

Pet shampoos have been developed to treat a variety of skin conditions in dogs and cats. Understanding the function of the various ingredients may appear daunting. 

Skin and coat conditioners for dogs and cats are designed to lubricate skin surface and help prevent tangles and mats from forming within the coat. They also help replace the natural oils lost from the skin and hair due to bathing and disease.

These oils act as moisturisers by helping to retain moisture next to the skin, thereby leaving the skin and coat soft and supple. Emollients are substances that sooth and soften the skin surface. They have been proven to be helpful if the skin is especially sensitive or irritated.

The following table should help you understand why certain ingredients are included in a pet shampoo. This information can help you, with consultation from your vet, to select the right one for your pet’s skin condition –

Ingredients

Comments

Insecticidals For treatment and prevention of fleas, ticks and some types of mange
Pyrethrin For treatment and prevention of fleas, ticks and some types of mange
Pyrethroids, such as permethrin DO NOT USE ON CATS
Carbaryl Good if sensitive to Pyrethrin
Antiseborrheic For removal and prevention of scales, and in some cases to remove excess oils
For seborrhea oleosa Characterised by scales and excess oils
Sulfur Removes scale and crust and reduces scale production
Reduces itching
Works best when used with an equal concentration of salicylic acid
Salicylic acid Removes scale and crust and reduces scale production
Reduces itching
Works best when used with an equal concentration of sulfur
Refined Tar Most potent ingredient to reduce scale production
Reduces itching
Degreases
Can be irritating
DO NOT USE ON CATS
Selenium sulfide Removes scale and crust and reduces scale production
Degreases
Can be irritating to scrotum and mucous membranes
Best to limit its use to yeast infections and severe oiliness
Must leave on at least ten minutes for antifungal activity
DO NOT USE ON CATS
Benzoyl peroxide Removes scale and crusts
Can dry out the skin
Excellent degreaser and flushes out hair follicles
For seborrhea sicca Characterised by dry scales
Sulfur Removes scale and crust and reduces scale production
Reduces itching
Works best when used with an equal concentration of salicylic acid
Salicylic acid Removes scale and crust and reduces scale production
Reduces itching
Works best when used with an equal concentration of sulfur
Antipruritic For relief of itching due to conditions such as atopy and other allergies
Colloidal Oatmeal Reduces inflammation
Hydrocortisone Produces minimal side effects when compared to oral steroids
Aloe vera Produces minimal side effects when compared to oral steroids
Pramoxine hydrochloride Topical anesthetic
Diphenhydramine Antihistamine which decreases inflammation
Menthol Has cooling and anesthetic effect
Sulfur Removes scale and crust and reduces scale production
Reduces itching
Works best when used with an equal concentration of salicylic acid
Salicylic acid Removes scale and crust and reduces scale production
Reduces itching
Works best when used with an equal concentration of sulfur
Cool water rinses Removes scale and crust, and reduces scale production
Reduces itching
Works best when used with an equal concentration of sulfur
Antibacterials For treatment of bacterial infections, such as pyoderma, folliculitis and impetigo
Benzoyl Peroxide Removes scale and crusts
Can dry out the skin
Excellent degreaser and flushes out hair follicles
Chlorhexidine Higher concentrations may be irritating or dry out the skin in some animals
Povidone Iodine Higher concentrations may be irritating or dry out the skin in some animals
Triclosan Low potency
Ethyl Lactate Flushes follicles, has some degreasing activity
Sulfur Removes scale and crust, and reduces scale production
Reduces itching
Works best when used with an equal concentration of salicylic acid
Can help prevent staph infection
Antifungals For treatment of ringworm and yeast infections
Miconazole 2% Less expensive than ketoconazole
Chlorhexidine 2-4% Some activity against yeast, less against ringworm
Higher concentrations may be irritating or dry out the skin in some animals
Povidone Iodine Not as effective, can cause irritation
Ketoconazole 2% Highly effective
 Selenium sulfide 1% Removes scale and crust and reduces scale production
Degreases
Can be irritating to scrotum and mucous membranes
Best to limit its use to yeast infections and severe oiliness
Must leave on at least ten minutes for antifungal activity
DO NOT USE ON CATS
Emollients Add oils to skin
Sunflower Oil Add oils to skin
Borage Oil Add oils to skin
Cod Liver Oil Add oils to skin
Coconut Oil Add oils to skin
Olive Oil Add oils to skin
Salmon Oil Add oils to skin
Evening Primrose Oil Add oils to skin
Safflower Oil Add oils to skin
Sesame Oil Add oils to skin
Lanolin Add oils to skin
Emulsifiers Help distribute emollients
Cetyl Alcohol Help distribute emollients
Laureth-5 Help distribute emollients
Lecithin Help distribute emollients
PEG-4 dilaurate Help distribute emollients
Stearic acid Help distribute emollients
Stearyl alcohol Help distribute emollients
Humectants Rehydrate skin
Carboxylic Acid Rehydrate skin
Lactic Acid Rehydrate skin
Urea Rehydrate skin
Sodium Lactate Rehydrate skin
Propylene Glycol Rehydrate skin
Glycerin Rehydrate skin
Polyvinylpyrrolidone Rehydrate skin

Our Experts

Niamh McElhinney is a Connolly’s RED MILLS Nutritional Advisor, Professional Certified Groomer, Micro-Chipper, and Owner of K9 Millionhairs. She has o ...

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