Whether you’re a professional dog groomer or you take care of your dog’s grooming needs yourself, you might be wondering about the type of water that’s best for pet grooming.
Hard water has several known side effects when used for dog grooming. So what are the improvements and benefits you can expect to see if you install a water softener in your home or business?
We’ve shared everything you should know in this guide.
📌 Key Takeaways:
- A water softener is a water treatment system that exchanges calcium and magnesium hard water minerals with sodium ions.
- Soft water lathers better with soap and is better for skin health, so installing a water softener can reduce your spend on grooming supplies, promote clean, soft fur, and prevent skin issues in dogs.
- There are several types of water softeners you can use for pet grooming, including point of entry water softeners for softening your water at home, and portable softeners for mobile grooming business.
Table of Contents
🚰 What Is A Water Softener?
First, a quick overview of water softeners and what they do.
A water softener is a water treatment unit that’s installed on the main water pipe that enters your home or business.
It removes calcium and magnesium “hardness” minerals from water, which cause a number of aesthetic issues, including mineral buildup and soap scum. These minerals are replaced with equal amounts of sodium, which prevents water from being able to cause these issues.
Water from a softening system is known as soft water because it contains low very low levels of calcium and magnesium ions.
✅ Benefits Of Water Softeners For Pet Grooming
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a water softener for pet grooming.
Reduced Soap Use
If you’re trying to keep your grooming business’ costs low or you just don’t want to spend a fortune on pet soaps and shampoos, you’ll be happy to hear that using soft water for grooming should help you to reduce your soap use.
Soft water lathers better with soap, meaning that you can use less soap to achieve the same lather as you would with hard water.
Why do you get a better lather with soft water? Because soft water doesn’t contain hardness minerals, which react with soap to form an insoluble substance called soap scum. Soft water doesn’t produce soap scum, so all the soap you use should provide a good sudsy lather.
That means you can spend less money on your favorite grooming soaps and shampoos – or you can upgrade to a more expensive product that’s even better for your dog’s health, knowing that it’ll last longer and essentially cost the same as cheaper products when used in the long run.
Using water that lathers better with soap should help you to achieve a cleaner, softer coat when grooming a dog.
The suds from your shampoos and soaps go further, and the better lather means you have plenty of soap to get into every nook and cranny in your dog’s fur.
There’s no formation of soap scum, either, which means when you’ve finished washing your dog, their fur should be completely clean and free from lingering mineral residue.
Reduced Risk Of Itchiness & Irritation
We know that hard water is linked to irritation, itchiness, and dry skin issues in humans, while soft water doesn’t cause these issues – and it seems that the same is true for pets.
One 2010 study looked into the effect of shampoo treatment with water softened with ion exchange on dogs with pruritus (itchy skin, often caused by dryness) and dermatitis (skin irritation).
The study found that soft water “significantly decreased” dermatitis and itchiness scores in dogs, while shampoo treatment with normal hard water did not. The study’s author concluded that shampoo treatment with soft water promotes skin barrier recovery, and may be helpful in managing pruritus and dermatitis in dogs.
🚱 What CAN’T Soft Water Achieve For Pet Grooming?
It’s true that soft water helps you to achieve a cleaner, softer coat when grooming pets, and there’s evidence that suggests soft water can reduce itchy and irritated skin conditions. Plus, it should help you to cut back on your spend on grooming supplies.
However, we’ve seen some sources that say soft water can reduce odors and stop your pets from getting fleas. This is unlikely.
Whether you wash your dog in soft or hard water, you should eliminate odors to begin with – but, over time, you’ll start to notice the dog smell creeping in once more, signaling that it’s nearly time for another grooming session. Soft water won’t prevent your dog from acquiring a funky smell when they next need to be cleaned.
In the same way, regular washing in both hard and soft water will help you to identify fleas and other pests in your dog’s fur, but soft water won’t miraculously prevent your dog from ever getting fleas in the future.
Manage your expectations – soft water enhances the grooming process, but it doesn’t do the impossible!
📑 Final Word
If you want to set your pet grooming business apart from your competitors and boast another benefit of your grooming process, or you simply want to wash your dog as effectively as possible at home, installing a water softener is the answer.
Soft water should help you to use less soap, and it’s the ideal solution for dogs that suffer from itchy skin issues, allergies, and dryness that could be exacerbated by normal tap water (which is, more often than not, hard water).
The type of water softener that’s right for you depends on your needs.
For instance, if you run a mobile dog grooming business, you’ll be best off with a portable water softener.
But if you wash your dog in your bathroom at home, you should install a conventional full-size ion exchange water softener, so your entire home – including all appliances and fixtures – can benefit from soft water.