I am childless by choice, but I do have these adorable, curly haired fur babies who came into my life in January 2016
Meet Livvie (white) and Bobigny (black and white). I'm kind of obsessed with taking care of them. They have helped me with my mental health, since I do a lot of my work and study from home. Having two little creatures who depend upon me to give them stability (I'm their second owner), love and care makes me feel good.
With the exception of owning goldfish when I was 9 years old (Didn't last long), I've never owned pets. I did a lot of research and experimenting the first few months I had Livvie and Bo. When I get obsessed with something, I want to know everything about it! It's partly why I even have a natural hair and beauty line!
So here are the natural hair and health principles that I use on my dogs as well as myself. These are just things EYE have found to be helpful.
Bo and Livvie are Shih Tzu-Maltese. The latter breed can have curly fur, and they definetely have that trait! While they do not shed hair (which is why I can own them as an allery sufferer) like short-hair dogs, their hair needs to be taken care of with great sensitivity. At first I tried to use all natural soap, but it made their hair feel dry and straw-like afterwards. I realized my obvious mistake later becaue I would never wash my own hair with soap, even the natural kind. The pH is above neutral, thus not good for natural hair.
After looking up ingredients for puppy shampoos, I noticed that most, if not all, do not include sulfates and lots of other ingredients that most natural hair wearers don't like either. Dogs have really particular skin, prone to all kinds of skin ailents. If you are a person with sensitive skin you can understand. The majority of dog shampoos on the market are comprised of coco betaine as the main surfactant (detergent). It is the one that boosts the bubbles, thickness and efficacy of other surfactants in shampoos. I made my own puppy shampoo by adding this ingredient, plus another one that is commonly used in children's products because of its mildness (also in our sensitive skin face wash!): disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, or DLS Mild.
I've found using a small amount of lightweight leave in conditioner on my babies makes their curls pop, but also leaves their mane silky smooth. I just use the same one I use in my own hair (Leave Me Be Leave-In Conditioner) because it's glycerine-free , silicone-free and very light-weight. I know I am extra. I know!
Air-Drying Their Curls
This is pretty self explanatory. Whenever we have a warm, sunny day, I take the opportunity to shampoo Bo and Livvie, then I take them on a long walk immediately afterward. They enjoy running around like mad when they are wet, so getting them outta my house is perfect! In the winter, I use the blowdryer on warm to get them dried quickly.
Regular Detangling sessions
My nearly-5 year old baby girls have lovely, long tails. When it's humid or wet outside, their tails actually get kinky! I kid you not, the texture changes. Because the fur on their bodies is even more fine, I have to comb through their long ears, tails, beards and body (in winter when they are longer). The leave-in condioner helps, as their hair doesn't tangle as easily. I use the same bottom to top detangling approach as I do with my own, but with tools suitable for them. That means a wire-haired brush and metal comb.
In addition to eczema, I have a lot of allergies and sensitivities, which can produce distressing results on my skin, like welts and patches of redness. I even used to be plagued with chronic urticaria and angioedema. Since lowering my gluten intake and consumption of processed foods and sugar, this condition arises less frequently.
When Livvie and Bo first came to me, their hair was overgrown, and they had bald patches in parts of their fur. The skin below was red an very irritated. I did some research to find out that those are called 'hot spots' , one cause of which is an allergic reaction to wheat. The bag of food they had been eating for years was full of wheat, colour and other additives.
I put them on a wheat-free, gluten-free diet and their fur bounced back within a month. They have not had the hot spot problem since.