Monday, October 17, 2011

Pugs, skin problems and detergent: Are they connected?

Liam the pug in a freshly washed bed
Pugs are notorious for skin problems, but when you run an internet search on the problem, most owners seem to focus only on fleas and foods.

While it's true that pugs can develop allergies to fleas and it's true that food allergies can lead to skin problems, laundry detergent can also be to blame.

Many laundry detergents contain a whole host of chemicals, including petroleum products and heavy fragrances. While they may not bother us as humans, our dogs may lick their beds, chew on their blankets and drool on their toys more often than we do (I hope). It's likely that a dog will ingest chemicals from detergents, and those chemicals can cause allergic problems.

I wash Liam's bedding once a week. It helps to cut down on any fleas he brings in from the great outdoors, and it keeps him and his bedding from smelling moldy and disgusting. This is particularly important during the winter months. He comes inside from a wet walk and dives into his bed. After a few days, that bed smells like wet dog. Yuk.

When Liam was a puppy, he developed a small case of hives on his belly on laundry day. I figured the detergent was to blame, since this was the only thing I introduced on the day he had hives, and the search was on for new detergent. Eventually, I settled on Dreft. It still contains more fragrance than I would like, but it doesn't seem to irritate his skin. 

Some dogs may still react to Dreft, which might mean more research is in order.

If your dog is itchy on washing day, this might be a great topic to broach with your veterinarian. A simple change in detergent could make a big difference to your dog.