I I use conditioner on every dog I see . This seems to be a very important step that owners at home and even some professional groomers and vets seem to forget, but to me it is the most vital part of the bathing process. Specially for dogs who have skin issues.
Why is it important ?
Let's first talk about the epidermal barrier - first line of defense
How does our skin barrier work ? -Bricks and mortar
The epidermis (outer layer of the skin), is the front line soldiers for our bodies defense system. It is often described as a wall of bricks, dead cells filled with Keratin (aka Corneocytes) and the mortar holding them together are made from lipids (fats). Within three layers of the epidermis it preforms many jobs, defense against bacteria and viruses, maintaining fluid loss, protects the inside from the outside world.
Hydrolipid film. - protector of the protector.
The epidermis is covered by a thin layer of water and lipids called the hydrolipid film. It is maintained by secretion from sebaceous glands and acts as a further barrier against bacteria and yeast
Where does conditioner fit in ? If a dog suffers from skin issues it most likely means there is a disruption to the hydrolipid film and the epidermis. The reasons for this disruption can be due to genetic, environmental factors or what usually is the case a mixture of both, making it a complex issue to fix. The role of shampoo is to remove dirt, grime and OILS. While there are different grades of shampoos and how much they strip oils from the skin differs from product to product, the end result is still a breakdown of the lipids and skin barrier. Healthy skin will reproduce the natural oils and replace the skins barrier on its own in time. This process however can take up to 12hrs. By applying conditioner we are replacing this barrier until the skin can replenish itself and avoiding long term damage.
For dogs with skin issues, replacing this layer may take longer or if it even happens at all. This is usually why a lot of dogs with skin issues end up with secondary bacteria and yeast infections. The job of conditioner can help replace this layer until the root cause of the skin issues are found and treated. Just like we as humans moisturise daily when we have skin issues, daily moisturising may also need to be part of your dog's routine.
If your dog has any skin or health issues, always speak to your vet, my advice for those dealing with chronic skin issues is to find a vet dermatologist for further help.
Bianca is the owner and groomer at Funky Fur dog grooming and always looking for ways to help you care for your pet.