Dogs and human beings have been companions for thousands and thousands of years. The original dog stock, living on the edges of human gatherings, did not get bathed, but then neither did the humans. Most dogs currently in existence in the non-Western world continue to live on the fringes of human societies: they are not pets although they exist within the human social context by scavenging as their ancient ancestors did. These dogs don't get bathed either. In fact bathing, for both humans and dogs, is a relatively recent invention.
Although soap was in existence as far back as 2800 BC among the Babylonians, it was used for cleaning cooking pots and pans, not bathing It was not until 1790 that soap, which had been expensive to produce, was available at reasonable prices for the masses. Perhaps it was only as human dog owners began to become clean that the "need" for their canine companions to also be clean emerged.
History does not record the first doggie bath. Since the nobility kept large hunting dogs (and by law were the only people who could own dogs) and kept them indoors, one can imagine that the first bath of an Irish Wolf Hound was an interesting experience for the poor servant who got stuck with that job! Fast forward a couple of centuries to now. Google "Dog Soap° and you will find page after page after electronic page of both information and advertisements on dog soap and shampoo. Google "Dog Flea Soap* and you will find even more pages and advertisements. Dog groomers abound and doggie shampoo is a big business, part of the enormous multi-billion dollar pet industry.
We who have chosen the Kerry Blue Terrier as our companion know that we have to bathe our babies. Those of us who do not keep our Kerries in short show cuts know even more - those long curly blue-grey locks can trap both interesting Hems and insects, not to mention dirt and sweat from our very active dogs. Our non-shedding breed must be brushed and bathed with some regularity.
When we Google "Dog Shampoo' one of the first questions that dog owners in genera) pose is this: Can I use my human shampoo for my dog? The answer is a simple 'No!' Even though I just paid $25 for 18 ozs. of the organic, imported shampoo I use, it will not work for my KBT. Why? Human skin has a different pH than dog skin (pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity). Dog shampoo has to be the correct pH to not harm our dog's skin. Further, human shampoo often contains additives and fragrances that are not good for a dog's skin.
The first thing to look for in a dog shampoo is that it is specifically formulated for dogs. A second consideration: Why are we bathing the dog? Is the bath a regular grooming bath, anti-pest, anti-dandruff, anti-unknown odor? (See the KBTF Newsletter from Summer 2013 for an article on skunk odor removal.) is the bath to give our Kerry a shiny coat? A visit to any of the fast growing major chain pet stores wilt yield a specific shampoo for each objective. Match the shampoo (after checking the ingredients) to the specific task.
The first word of advice: Do not buy cheap dog shampoo. The second word of advice: Read the label and look for additives including alcohol which will dry the dog's skin, and preservatives. Especially look for perfumes or methods of making the dog "smell good." It is often the additives, especially the perfumes which will cause negative reactions—both skin and respiratory complications.
Also, look for where the shampoo was manufactured. If the shampoo was imported, consider mat other countries may not have strict quality standards that the United States has. Once again, it is the additives that cause potential problems.
Third word of advice: Do you really need to shampoo for any other reason than basic cleanliness? Consider that any objective other than being clean enough to not smell up the house is a consideration that is not for the dog, it is for you; and ask yourself if it is really necessary to expose your KBT to possibly questionable ingredients.
Making Dog Shampoo
It is possible to make your own 'pure' dog shampoo. Castile soap is a basic soap ingredient that is used in the "pure-ist" approach to dog shampoo recipes. Other home-made shampoos consistently use Lemon Liquid Joy but please be aware that the latter does contain a number of those 'extra' ingredients, although these ingredients are diluted in the recipes. These shampoo recipes are readily found by a Google search.
Flea Shampoo: Does it work?
Flea shampoo kills adult fleas living on a dog. That is as far as it goes. The point to realize is that 95% of the fleas' life cycle is not spent living on a dog. Flea control is an environmental process which cannot be found in any shampoo product.
The primary ingredient in any conditioner (human or canine) ] is oil. A conditioner ireplenishes the natural oil that is removed by the shampoo. Again, check out Ithe conditioner's ingredients and avoid conditioners that contain preservatives, dyes or perfumes. And no, human conditioner is not an acceptable choice.
Shampoo and Conditioner Summary
Read the ingredient list. Use only products specifically intended for dogs. Check the country of manufacture— does it have strict control and inspection processes? When in doubt, check with your vet for the proper kind of shampoo to purchase.
While our Kerries might dislike the process of shampoo/bathing, we all like our dogs to be fluffy, free from the dirt and whatever else they pick up on those Velcro bodies they have, and to smell good. By making sure to use the right doggie shampoo, we not only get a clean, non-stinky Kerry but also the confidence that we are not harming its skin or activating its allergies.