To help you separate fact from fiction — and help you avoid making potentially dangerous grooming mistakes — I'm dispelling some of the most common misconceptions about pet shedding, shampooing, bathing and more.
The non-shedding breed is a myth. All dog breeds shed. Some shed more and some shed less, but all shed. In fact, within certain low-shedding breeds, some individual dogs may shed a lot while others will cast off their hair almost imperceptibly. Moreover, just because a dog doesn’t shed much doesn’t mean he doesn't require a lot of maintenance. Many low-shedding breeds like Poodles and Yorkies need regular trips to the groomer to maintain their coats.
Sure, some breeds might be better-suited to those who suffer from allergies. But no dog or cat breed is guaranteed to offer you an allergy-free life. Indeed, within these so-called hypoallergenic breeds are plenty of individuals who may trigger your allergies even more profoundly than certain members of other breeds that aren't typically thought of as being better for people with allergies. If you want a little assurance that you’re not inclined to have an allergic reaction to an individual animal once you take her home, lock yourself in a room with her for a few hours. Only then will you have a pretty good indication of whether you’re likely to suffer reactions to her.
Bathing every week or two (a typical vet recommendation for pets with skin issues) not only helps your dog or cat shed less and smell better, but also works to help prevent or manage certain skin diseases. The key is to use the right shampoo (ask your vet for a suggestion).
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. The skin is a major organ that plays a huge role in immunological defense. By using human shampoos, we may strip oils and dry the top layers of an animal’s skin, thereby compromising the body’s natural barrier against infection.
Tear stains are just that: stains caused by moistened bacteria on the skin. Although they could be an indication of blocked tear ducts or other eye conditions, they’re often just a pesky cosmetic “problem” rather than a significant health-care issue. Also, there can be significant risks associated with giving your pet a lifetime of daily oral antibiotics to "treat" the stains, so talk to your vet if this is an issue for you.