What is a keratolytic shampoo for dogs?

Our question this week was:

What are examples of keratolytic shampoos? What is it? My dog has some skin lesions and my vet recommended it and I'm not sure what it is.

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Betsy M. – Honolulu, HI


Hi – thanks for your email. A keratolytic is a general treatment used to treat the skin (the epidermis that produces excess skin). The treatments may vary slightly depending on the underlying condition. Some keratolytics are used in people to treat warts. In dogs, they are commonly used to treat dry flakey skin that can result from a variety of skin diseases. For dry skin, keratologics will soften the keratin (a component of skin) and help improve the skins moisture. Agents used include urea, lactic acid, and allantoin. Keratoloytics can also be used to treat flaking skin such as dandruff like signs. In this case, the, keratolytics commonly used are salicylic acid and sulfur. Examples include: Sebalyt, Malaseb, Sulfoxydex, Keratolux, and Sebolux.
Many keratoltic shampoos also have an antibacterial action.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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