Are You Overwashing Your Dog?
Probably, according to Dr. Lisa, a celebrity vet who just launched a line of eco-conscious dog grooming products.
Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)
Emergency veterinarian and Australian TV personality Dr. Lisa Chimes (aka Dr. Lisa) is on a mission to get you to stop washing your dog. Not entirely, of course, but certainly a lot less often. Why? “We see a huge problem here in Australia, and globally, with dogs suffering from itchy, flaky, dry, and sensitive skin,” says Dr. Lisa, “often as a result of over-washing [with products that are not properly formulated for a dog’s skin.]”
To solve this problem, in late 2019, she launched DOG by Dr. Lisa — a line of dog wipes and other grooming products designed to work with, not against, your dog’s pH. “A lot of the pet products on the market just aren’t up to scratch, and you can’t just use human products on your dog because human skin is more acidic than dog skin,” she says. “You need to get the pH right or you’re going to interfere with the dog’s skin barrier.”
To avoid over-washing, Dr. Lisa recommends using her specially-formulated dog wipes to spot clean your dog as needed. “They’re sort of like reformulated baby wipes, but bigger and wetter,” she says. Beyond that, she recommends waiting at least four to six weeks (longer, if you can) between baths, and making sure to brush your dog’s coat daily and use conditioners as needed to keep their skin and coats moisturized. “[Doing this] our customers have said they’ve been able to take their dogs off allergy creams and all sorts of things because they’ve improved the dog's skin barrier, which is huge,” says Dr. Lisa.
Dr. Lisa started developing the wipes and other products in 2018 with the help of a formulation chemist in Australia, and launched the brand nationally 18 months later. “We started with a soft launch of Facebook,” she says. “It didn’t feel appropriate to really be advertising during the bushfires, when all these people and animals were suffering — but within a month of the products [going live], we sold out.”
Then the pandemic hit and the whole operation came to a halt. “We were getting a lot of feedback from our customers that they weren’t happy with products being made in China — this was during [the first wave of] the pandemic, when tensions were high — so I found a manufacturer here in Australia who has been amazing, and one in New Zealand to make our compostable bags and wipes. As of the end of 2020, I’m proud to say that all of our products are Australia and New Zealand-made.”
Sustainability is also top of mind for Dr. Lisa. “We are really trying to avoid plastics and harsh chemicals and really trying to manufacture in a way that's going to minimize our impact on the planet,” she says. “All our products are biodegradable and our wipes are 100% compostable; they’ll even break down in a landfill. And the liquids are formulations that are safe in the ground and safe in the water. All our containers are aluminum and we make refill bags, so you can refill the containers or recycle them, and our brushes and towels are made from bamboo.”
DOG by Dr. Lisa also donates a portion of their proceeds to the RSPCA (Australia’s version of the ASPCA in America) and other local animal welfare charities. “We’re a startup, and we’re still trying to generate profits, so [the amount we are able to give] is variable and depends on how the year is going, but it is my hope to work up to a fixed percentage that can be a decent amount,” says Dr. Lisa.
DOG by Dr. Lisa is now available in the US with new products on the way. “We’ve just launched a urine cleaner in Australia, which we’re hoping to have in the US and Canada in the next few months,” she says. The brand is also expanding into cat products — wipes, brushes, and “a really nice bamboo rake,” although the arrival of those particular products in the US is still TBD. “I’m a mom to four kids and three dogs,” says Dr. Lisa. “I’m also a veterinarian. And I really just wanted to create a line of products that I would use on my own family and patients.”
“If your dog is stinky or looks dirty, wash ‘em!” Plus more pro tips from LA dog groomer Jess Rona.
Spoiler: They’re probably already in your pantry.
The founder of Package Free says there’s a low-waste alternative to every pet product sitting in your trash right now.
Expert tips to help reduce your pet’s carbon footprint. (Pawprint? You get it.)
Charles Manning is an actor, writer, and fashion/media consultant living in New York City with his two cats, Pumpkin and Bear. Follow him on Instagram @charlesemanning.