Our pets are family, and just like we take our own personal care and grooming seriously, we should be taking our pets’ grooming seriously too. Washing and brushing them regularly will not only ensure a cleaner home, but also a healthier pet.
But just how often should you be washing your dog? Is it really necessary to use a variety of products? And how do you select the best grooming products that are both effective and safe? We asked two pet experts for some advice: Travis Fraundorfer from Skout’s Honor, a US pet brand that’s sold exclusively at Woolworths, and Dr Barbara Affleck from Manorswood Veterinary Clinic, who chatted to us on behalf of South African Veterinary Association (SAVA).
There are a lot of pet grooming products on the market, from shampoos, to powders, to doggie perfume! What are the essential grooming products that all pet owners should have at home?
Travis: Every pet parent wants their animal to look and feel their best! When selecting grooming essentials, it’s important to look for brands that not only keep them clean and smelling fresh, but also products made with safe and beneficial ingredients that will offer additional benefits for the skin & coat. Skout’s Honor’s Probiotic Grooming line for pets is available in several incredible fragrances, and also brings the natural healing power of live, active probiotic cultures to the skin to help eradicate and prevent itch, odour, shedding and dryness.
Dr Barbara: The essential grooming products that I would advise pet owners to have at home would be a good quality brush, a mild pet shampoo (if you have a cat, always make sure that the shampoo is safe for use in cats) and a good quality pair of pet-specific nail clippers.
How often should you be washing or grooming your pet?
Travis: Every pet is different, but if you can find a safe, gentle and hydrating shampoo that won’t dry their skin out – it’s generally okay to bathe them as much as you like. Always check with your veterinarian if you are unsure what is best for your pet.
Dr Barbara: Grooming or washing your pet is dependent on the pet that you have. It is considered a good idea to bath them at least once every two to three months, especially if they have a short, smooth coat and no skin problems. For instance, dogs that are more active and prone to getting dirty/swim often need more frequent baths. Long-haired dogs usually need to be groomed more regularly to keep their coats from matting; the suggestion is generally once every four to six weeks with regular brushing in between. Hairless breeds may need to be bathed weekly, as well as dog breeds that tend to have oily skin (such as cocker spaniels and basset hounds). Dogs with skin allergies or skin conditions usually benefit from more regular baths with a special medicated shampoo, but this frequency will depend on instructions provided by your veterinarian.
A lot of owners worry that pet grooming products may cause itching or sensitivity. What are some of the ingredients they should avoid when shopping for pet products?
Travis: Many pets are allergic to fragrance – and believe it or not, natural essential oils tend to cause more irritation/issues than synthetic fragrances when applied to the skin. Try and look for hypoallergenic or fragrance-free options if you have a pet with extra sensitive skin. It is also advised to opt for a product that is free of sulphates and parabens.
Dr Barbara: Sometimes shampoos with artificial fragrances and colours/dyes could potentially cause itching or sensitivity. The best advice would be to choose a specially formulated product for dogs and/or cats. Should this product still cause skin sensitivity, it would be best to consult your veterinarian regarding special shampoos for sensitive skin and skin allergies.
When it comes to pet grooming products, is natural necessarily better?
Travis: Natural is generally better because you are limiting the chance of harmful chemicals and extra ingredients that may be used in the formulations. Keep in mind that even some of the best products out there may be ‘mostly’ natural instead of 100% natural due to fragrance, preservatives, etc., which are necessary in small amounts in order to keep the products fresh, safe and effective. Today’s pet parents seek products for their animals just as they would for themselves and their family members and ‘natural’ tends to be a key factor in that decision-making process.
Dr Barbara: It depends on the source of the product and the intended use. Using ‘natural’ products from a reputable company that has done all the adequate research, safety testing, and registration with a regulatory body for products (such as SAHPRA) could be a really good product to use. If your pet has a specific skin condition that requires a special formulated medicated shampoo, then ‘natural’ is not necessarily better.
Can you share your shampoo with your pet? Or should you always stick to products specially formulated for animals?
Travis: Rule of thumb is stick to products specially formulated for animals. On the other hand, Skout’s Honor’s entire Probiotic Grooming line can absolutely be used on humans.
Dr Barbara: It is always better to stick to products formulated for animals as there can be ingredients in human shampoos (such as artificial colours and fragrances) that can be harsh on your pet’s skin. Human skin has a different pH to dog’s skin, with human’s more acidic and dog’s at a more neutral pH. This means that human shampoos tend to disrupt your pet’s skin barrier and make it more vulnerable to bacterial infection. It also tends to strip their protective oils and makes their skin feel dry and flaky, making your pet scratch more, causing more damage to the skin.
Some of our favourite pet grooming products available at Woolworths are:
Skout’s Honor Probiotic 2-in-1 Honeysuckle Pet Shampoo & Conditioner (R179.99)
The Skout’s Honor Honeysuckle probiotic pet shampoo and conditioner gently cleanses and moisturises the skin and coat and is great for healthy pets and pets who suffer from skin allergies. It contains avocado oil and topical probiotics that help support a healthy microbiome to defend against common skin problems such as itching, odour, dryness, dandruff, hot spots, yeast, and excessive shedding.
Skout’s Honor Honeysuckle Probiotic Pet Conditioner (R179.99)
This 98.5% natural probiotic conditioner contains avocado oil and is designed to support against shedding, itching, dryness, hot spots and odour by hydrating and leaving fur silky and smooth.
Posh Pets Deodorising Powder for Pets (R59.99)
A brilliant refresher to use in-between shampoos, this deodorising powder helps control unwanted odours.