Dogs’ skin and human skin have very different Ph balances. Skin has a thin layer called the acid mantle, which protects the topmost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, from contaminants such as viruses and bacteria. It also keeps the body hydrated by absorbing water and reducing evaporation. When we bathe, the acid mantle is washed away. To counter this, most soaps and shampoos have ingredients that moisturize and protect the skin until the acid mantle renews itself. In order for the acid mantle to do its job, the proper balance of acidity and alkalinity is crucial. This is called the Ph balance.
Human skin has a normal Ph balance of 5.5-5.6, which is on the acidic side. Dogs, on the other hand, have a normal Ph balance of 6.2-7.4, which is more neutral. Using a human shampoo on dogs disrupts the acid mantle, leaving your dog vulnerable to parasites, viruses, and bacteria. It also makes his skin feel dry and flaky, which can lead to repeated scratching and abrasions. This makes it easy for bacteria to invade.
Dog’s skin is actually more sensitive than ours; we have 10-15 layers of skin cells, canines have only 3-5. Shampoo with the wrong Ph balance and/or harsh chemicals can irritate a dog’s skin and strip away the protective oils from his coat and skin.
So, without that crucial acid mantle, dogs are left open to a host of unpleasant and possibly dangerous conditions, ranging from dry flaky skin, rashes, and itching to infections.
Sometimes dry skin is caused by environmental conditions such as cold weather and dry air, or by excessive bathing, harsh soaps, and poor nutrition. If you suspect that your dog’s dry skin is the result of nutritional deficiencies, environmental conditions or bathing habits, it is still a good idea to consult your veterinarian in order to rule out more serious conditions.
Dry skin does not present in the same way for every dog. Symptoms associated with dry skin include:
Some dogs experience only one of these symptoms while others present with several. Keeping an eye on your dog’s symptoms can help your veterinarian diagnose the cause of your dog’s dry skin.