This Veterinarian’s Five Most Annoying Pet Grooming Myths

3. Pets need baths only infrequently. It seems there’s high anxiety within American popular culture on the subject of over-bathing: “Bathing your pet every week is the worst thing you can do for your pet’s skin. It strips their skin of moisture!” is commonly overheard in our hospital’s lobby.

The truth, however, is that over-bathing is nowhere as common as under-bathing. Moreover, it’s unlikely to prove as problematic — especially when you consider that so many pets have skin diseases that require very frequent bathing.


Plus, it’s undeniably true that bathing every week or two (a typical vet recommendation) not only makes your dog or cat shed less and smell better, but also works to help prevent certain skin diseases. The key, however, is to use the right shampoo (ask your vet for a suggestion).

4. People shampoo is just as good as pet shampoo. I hear it all the time: “Pet shampoo is a sham. It’s the same stuff just repackaged at a higher price.” And while I can’t say for sure that’s not true for all pet shampoos, I can attest to the fact that the shampoos veterinarians recommend are almost always designed and formulated for pet skin.


Truth is, human shampoos and pet shampoos are not created equal. That’s because dog and cat skin and human skin are not alike in many ways. For starters, human skin is more acidic than pet skin. Then there’s the fact that we have sweat glands all over our skin, while similar glands in dogs, for example, are only on the foot pads. While there are more differences (and some of them do impact the chemical makeup and consistency of shampoo formulas), these are the most commonly cited.

But there are more perils than just these. The skin is, after all, a major organ that plays a huge role in immunological defense. By using human shampoos, we’re stripping the oils and drying the top layers from an animal’s skin, thereby compromising the body’s natural barrier against infection.


5. Tear stains are bad and should be treated. Tear stains are just that: stains caused by ruddy pigments in the tears. As such, they’re really just a pesky cosmetic “problem” and usually not a significant health care issue. That’s probably why I get annoyed when owners either beg for a veterinary solution or worse — they show me a bottle of oral medication they’ve been using to help “treat” the stains.

Sure, it works. But is giving your pet a daily antibiotic (the most common tear stain product) worth it? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a couple of innocuous stains on my face than assume the risks posed by the lifetime of antibiotics it takes to keep me “prettier.”


Your Turn to Rant

How about you? Do you have grooming myths you want to see busted? If you’re a groomer, now’s your chance to have your say!

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