How to Care for Your Wrinkly Dog

By PetMD Editorial on May 8, 2018

By Daryl Conner

It’s hard to look at a wrinkly dog and not smile. There is something about a soft Pug mug, draped in folds, or the furrows on a Bulldog, Mastiff or Shar-Pei, that makes many a human find themselves hopelessly attracted to the look. However, as endearing as a wrinkly dog is, their wrinkles do require a little extra care to maintain. Here are some simple steps to keep the wrinkles on your dog as healthy as they are adorable.

Keep Them Clean and Dry

Dr. Kate Pierce, DVM at PenBay Veterinary Associates in Rockport, Maine says, “The most important part of preventing infection of facial wrinkles in brachycephalic [short-nosed] dogs is keeping the folds clean and dry. You can use hypoallergenic, unscented baby wipes or veterinary wipes containing the ingredient chlorhexidine. Drying well with cotton balls helps prevent the overgrowth of yeast and bacteria.” Chlorohexidine is an antiseptic that can be used to gently clean your dog’s wrinkles and prevent infection. VetOne KetoHex antiseptic wipes and Duoxo Chlorhexidine wipes both contain chlorohexidine and are safe to use on your dog’s face as long as you avoid contact with their eyes.

How do those wrinkles get dirty, anyway? Normal shedding of the hair inside the creases, as well as an accumulation of dead skin cells, can collect between the folds. Skin folds tend to be warm and moist, too. Add to this any dirt your dog picks up from playing outside, and even bits of food that may get trapped, and you have a recipe for irritation and infection. 

Nourish the Skin From the Outside

Michelle Knowles, a certified pet aesthetician and master groomer at Faust Animal Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, suggests that deep skin folds be cleaned daily, or at least every other day. However, she cautions, “if the skin in the folds becomes overly dry, it can lead to micro cracks in the skin inside the folds. This allows fungus and bacteria to get a foothold.” She suggests that owners use “plant extract minerals, mixed into a few drops of nourishing oil such as emu, avocado or argan and wiped into the folds with a cotton ball.” She adds, “Minerals are the building blocks of skin and are an important part of the immune system.”

Nourish From the Inside, Too

A dog’s diet can also play a role in the health of their skin and their skin folds. Talk to your veterinarian about supplementing your wrinkly dog’s diet with fish oils, which support skin health, and/or a vitamin and mineral supplement designed to help your pet maintain a healthy skin and coat. Two options that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are Zesty Paws Wild Omega-3 fish oil or Nutri-Vet Adult Vite Plus chews. The fish oil can be added to your dog’s daily meal, while chews can be given as a treat like a daily supplement. Dr. Pierce says, "Omega 3 supplements are a good natural anti-inflammatory and are good for skin overall."

Bath Time 

When it comes to bathing your wrinkly dog, here are some tips to help support skin health.

  • Use a mild, basic cleansing shampoo that has been specifically formulated for use on dogs. TropiClean Hypo-Allergenic Pet Shampoo is a gentle hypoallergenic shampoo that is made to be extra mild so that it won’t irritate skin.
  • Try dipping a damp kitchen sponge into the shampoo, and then using the sponge to wash your pet all over. The sponge will distribute the shampoo evenly, and is perfect for cleaning in and around wrinkles, as well as the sanitary areas and paw pads. Rinse the sponge as needed, then reapply the shampoo. You can easily store the sponge attached to the pet’s shampoo bottle with a rubber band. That way you won’t get it confused with the sponge for dishes.  
  • Rinse your pet completely, then rinse again, to be sure you have removed every trace of shampoo, especially from the areas under any folds. Leftover shampoo residue can cause irritation and itchy skin, which can lead to skin issues.
  • Towel-dry your dog, making sure to pay special attention to the creases.  You may find that using sections of paper towels in the wrinkles helps remove more moisture than a regular bath towel can. You can also use a microfiber dog towel that’s designed to be super-absorbent. It is important to try to get all the moisture out of the skin folds in order to prevent them from turning into bacteria breeding grounds. 

When looking for dog grooming supplies for your pet, ask your veterinarian or groomer for recommendations about which types of brushes and products will work best for your breed of dog. Keeping your wrinkly dog’s folds under control can be done with a little effort. 

Image via Shutterstock

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