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The material on this page is from:
Start Your Own Self-Serve Dog Wash, and How To Trim Your Dog's...Nails! And Why You're Probably Dumber Than Your Dog, both by David A. Grass. It may be used only with permission.


People are often fooled by a shampoo’s appearance or impressive label. It is actually the cheapest, least effective shampoos that are typically the most colorful, thick, sudsy, and fragrant. Manufacturers sometimes try to make an inferior product look good with unnecessary chemical additives, rather than perform well by relying on superior formulation and ingredients. These additives can be harsh on the skin and coat, do not make the products any more effective, and may not rinse out well.

Contrary to what most people think, lather actually has nothing to do with cleaning ability (yes, you read that right!). This may seem counter-intuitive because we have been led to believe otherwise by advertisers (and perhaps our mothers), but excessive lather can actually indicate an inferior product.

I remember this first being pointed out to me by a chemistry teacher in junior high school. She told the class a story about when she had worked at a Procter & Gamble® research and development lab. She said that when a particular laundry detergent first came out, it produced few suds, yet was probably the most effective detergent on the market at the time.

However, appearance and myth being more important to the public than results, complaints poured in about the lack of suds. Customers had equated lack of suds with lack of effectiveness, regardless of actual results. The company ended up having to appease the public’s stubborn misconceptions by adding ingredients which artificially produced suds while contributing nothing to the product’s performance.

Similarly, some of the cheap shampoos are actually too thick because people believe that thick is good—a sign of quality. But most dogs have dense fur, and thick, gooey shampoos may not penetrate down to the skin well or rinse out easily. A number of times I have heard individuals say things like, “I’ve been told to rinse until I’m sure all the shampoo is out, then rinse some more.” That may be true when using inferior shampoos. However, quality shampoos rinse out quickly and thoroughly.

A fairly common anthropomorphic mistake is for people to use human shampoo on their pets. Experts agree this should not be done, as it can damage the coat and irritate skin. Human shampoos contain harsher detergents which strip too much of the natural oils from a dog’s fur. In addition, they are not pH balanced for dogs, whose fur has a very different pH than our human hair does.

© Copyright, David A. Grass,
Start Your Own Self-Serve Dog Wash, 2001.
How To Trim Your Dog's...Nails! And Why You're Probably Dumber Than Your Dog, 2003. All rights reserved.

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