Emily, an owner of a French bulldog, called me recently to tell me that her pet had a problem with dry ears. Emily had read that dog owners should execute regular ear care with a damp, warm cloth and never put cotton swabs in an ear canal.
The recommendation Emily had found for dry ears was to rub a small amount of baby oil around the ear edges to refresh and heal the skin. Similar recommendations were given for a dry nose.
Emily asked me for advice on whether these were appropriate therapies and how to prevent her dog's ears and nose being dry. She wanted to know whether this problem inevitably occurs, and if so, what she should do about it.
To begin with, seborrhoea, or dryness characteristic of the whole body of a dog, is easiest to notice on its ears, and this is true for all dog breeds. It is a direct consequence of not bathing the dog often enough and of the buildup of large quantities of lanolin because of that.
French Bulldog owners usually don’t expect a shorthaired dog to require any special care, which is why they usually only give the occasional bath with a quick shampoo and rinse.
What all dog owners need to know, however, is the importance of also using a conditioner after shampooing. In the case of shorthaired breeds like the French bulldog, we are not talking about using conditioner for easier combing and grooming, but about a regular cleansing of the coat and its rehydration.
If we use a conditioner when bathing a dog, we will restore the skin’s natural oils that were washed away with shampoo. As for baby oil and its use on dogs, it is not recommended simply because the pH value of human skin is 5.5 (very acidic) and can sometimes be close to 6, depending on the area of the body and one’s diet.
Products intended for human use are made to be suitable for human skin and are not recommended to be used on dogs as dogs require a neutral pH value, which is around 7.
The only oil that can be used on dogs is coconut oil. Coconut oil can be applied to the nose, paw pads and to the tops of the ears if there is a need for that. But here is a question: Why would you only treat the top of the ear when dryness on the ear is a direct consequence of dry skin of the whole body?
It’s simply that excessive dryness is first noticeable on the ears. The truth is, a major cause of skin dryness and flaky skin areas is the inadequate bathing of the dog.
So, here is what Emily’s story has helped reveal:
We have to bathe a shorthaired dog often enough to maintain healthy skin and coat, just as we do for a longhaired dog. It may be harder to remind ourselves to give the bath because the dog’s coat doesn’t tangle, but it’s just as necessary.
Keep in mind that the shorthaired dog needs just as much coat pampering as his longhaired cousins. The French Bulldog has an undercoat, even though it may be hard to notice, and he requires a full bathing treatment that cares for it as well as the outer coat, which means using a conditioner after the shampoo and rinse.
If we bathe our dog often, and don’t use conditioner, the dog’s body will create layer upon layer of lanolin because of the dry skin and, consequently, intense secretion from his sebaceous glands. And believe me, lanolin is a smelly oil!
That’s why sometimes our shorthaired dogs living in apartments with us have a strong smell—ugh. It also helps explain where the well-known adage of “don’t bathe your dog often because it is going to smell more” comes from.
This idea is correct, to a certain point. But as we’ve pointed out, failing to bathe often enough, and not bathing properly, can lead to other troubles, including seborrhoea.
The thing that is far less known is that a dog will not smell if you bathe them often and use a conditioner!
Our advice? Consider putting your dog on a regular bathing schedule using a quality dog shampoo and conditioner, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
We strongly recommend our own Sasha Riess "The Shampoo" and "The Conditioner" because it is a luxury bathing system designed for dogs and made from the finest ingredients added to the crystal clear mineral waters of Europe’s ancient hidden sea.
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