Case Studies

Pepper's Story: Part 1

Pepper's Story: Part 1

Labradoodle Puppy with a great big itch!

Pepper @miniblackpepper was one of the lucky UWDOGS Winners from our Melbourne Dog Lovers Show Giveaway 2019. On meeting Pepper, it became clear that our meeting was meant to be. Tieng, Pepper's Mum explained that Pepper had always been an itchy pup, in fact, insatiably itchy.

"Right from the start she would run to play, and stop to itch along the way."

Tieng sent us these videos🙄

This is Tieng's recount of our first call:

6 May 2019
Following an initial telephone call with Gayle (owner of UWDOGS) we received a parcel containing Underwater Dogs products (Pepper's Dog Lovers Show Prize)... It is fair to say, we could smell them before we saw them. On opening the parcel Pepper seemed extremely interested, the beautiful aroma of coconut filling the air. I've never been that fond of coconut but this was different, it smelled so light and natural.

In an email that followed Gayle said:

Dear Tieng and Pepper,

Congratulations on your Dog Lovers win, I am thrilled to have Pepper trial our products and to follow her story. To hear that she has always been an itchy pup, and to know you have tried so many things, I feel you must wonder, what else you can do. 

As you will have experienced thus far there are no magic potions, and if you've already looked into both internal/external allergies with your Vet, then it's possible you may just have a pup with very sensitive skin (i.e. maybe grass/environmental sensitivities). The mixed breeds especially, cavoodles, moodles, labradoodles, groodles and poodles have rather sensitive skin - other breeds like pugs, bulldogs, frenchies, shih tzu’s and many more are also susceptible. No one can tell us why.

But this is what we do know:

Dry skin causes itching and itching causes inflammation, further scratching can cause breakage of the skin, bacteria gets in then hello... skin disease. We also know that medicated shampoos kill bacteria (it's what they are formulated to do), but they also dry the skin... and so the cycle would seem to repeat.
This is all logical thinking. 

Fleas - I haven’t seen fleas on a dog for a very long time (rescue dogs aside) - so not usually a factor. With great products like Nexgard & Bravecto on the market, Fleas are no longer the enemy.

Allergies - Sadly, whatever is causing Pepper to itch will probably always do so - I am just continually amazed as to how many dogs are on medication, antibiotics and/or steroids to counteract their plight. It is soul-destroying.

Underwater Dogs is a professionally formulated product, soap-free, paraben-free and pH balanced especially for canines. Formula's are full of high quality naturally moisturising ingredients, and created to allow both skin and hair to easily absorb nourishment. UWDOGS cannot cure an allergy but we do know that by helping to develop great skin health, we can help re-build skin elasticity giving it a healthy chance to counteract and recover from bursts of nasty allergens. It’s working, and the results are heart-warming.

By treating Pepper’s bath-time routine a little more like your own (shampoo & condition) and more regularly than you think - we hope to see some positive results. As she is so active, sea, pool, creek, mud, sand etc, rinsing after each outing will be imperative. I would look at bathing every week (shampoo and condition) for the first 3 baths and I would hope you see and feel a difference almost immediately.

For those who say, "You shouldn't bathe your dog so often." We say... that can be very true
, although it depends solely on 'what' you bath your dog in. Shampoos (and conditioners) that do not have a professional, quality base (the cheaper varieties), do not have conditioning formulations that aid in the skin rejuvenation process. They are heavier in substance and usually end up sitting on top of the skin and hair shaft without adequate absorption.

If you have ever used cheaper haircare products on yourself and wondered why your hair is so slippery following the conditioning process - takes forever to dry - and leaves the hair feeling heavy and oily within days... this is actually your product still coating the hair shaft, without having not been absorbed.

UWDOGS Conditioner may be used as a Leave-in 
Treatment. It's light, quality formulation and ability to be absorbed into the skin and hair shaft, will not leave the coat slippery, oily or heavy. Just massage this product thoroughly into Pepper's skin (and fur) after her shampoo, and give a light rinse across her top side, leaving most of the product on her itchy areas beneath. This will aid in adding extra moisture and protection to these dry, sensitive, allergy-prone areas. 

We look forward to following Pepper's bath-time regime and hope to see some recovery and in time... a dramatically diminished itch. Any questions, just reach out.

Kind regards, 
The Underwater Dogs Haircare Team

20 May 2019
Hi UWDOGS! We had our first bath using your products and I wanted to let you know that it was an absolute pleasure. What I noticed the most was Pepper's response while I was giving her a pamper session. She couldn't stop licking me - she usually licks me when she really likes what I'm doing for her.

After her bath she was unusually happy and wanted to play. With previous baths, she was so quiet, and just wanted to lay down on the concrete outside and itch. So to see her happy and want to play, I knew we had done something good for her. 

It's now been a week since our first bath and my husband has noticed a "decrease in her itch. She used to scratch ALL the time, but now only occasionally". This is a great improvement!

I've been struck down with the flu this week so I've organised with the groomer to bath her using UWDOGS (2nd bath). Although I love her kisses, I love it when someone else baths her. We'll touch base again after her next bath.

BTW here's some notes I took before and after her first bath.

How Pepper's itching and skin problems has affected our family
  • Pepper itches constantly all the time, unless she is sleeping or playing at the beach
  • Constantly interferes with activities
  • Plays games and stops to itch
  • Plays with toys and humans and stops to itch
  • Feels hot and doesn't want to play, just lays down on the cool tiles or outside on the concrete
  • Digs the tan bark to create a crater to sleep in the dirt
  • Affects social times with other dogs as she stops to itch
  • Constantly interferes with sleep
  • Wakes up in the middle of the night and scratches
Annoys us by jumping onto the bed and itching on our bed, interrupts our sleep.

Itchy Spots
  • Bottom
  • Paws
  • Legs
  • Chin
  • Ears
  • Tummy

During bath
  • Shampoo was really light, so it was easy to rub into the thick fur.
  • Shampoo, didn't make too many bubbles, so it was easy to wash out.
  • Shampoo didn't feel dry on my hands.
  • I decided to shampoo twice, because there was so much dirt coming out from the first wash.
  • Second wash made Pepper's fur feel rubbery on my hands.
  • Conditioner was really nice to use, feels smooth on the fur, easy to rub into the fur and get in as deep as possible. The conditioner feels light.
  • I usually don't like the smell of coconut products, but I like UWDOGS fragrance because it wasn't over powering at all, and the fragrance seemed natural.
  • I felt like Pepper needed the extra conditioner to restore her moisture so only gave a very light rinse, and left most of the conditioner in.
  • Blow dried well and the conditioner didn't feel heavy or slippery while blow drying.
  • The conditioner that I previously used - if we didn't wash it out properly it would feel like slippery like soap on the fur.
  • I wasn't hesitant with leaving UWDOGS conditioner in as it felt so light, similar to putting a moisturiser into the skin and it was very smooth.
  • Usually doesn't lick me during bath, but couldn't stop licking my hands.
After first bath
  • Usually Pepper is mad after a bath and wants to just sit outside.
  • This was the first time after a bath that Pepper was really happy, and just wanted to play.
  • Stopped to itch once, but continued to play.
  • Fur feels soft, extra fluffy and silky.
  • Smells lovely and sweet.
  • Hoping to have less itch, to no itch and more healed skin ready for the summer beach and water activities.
  • Friend commented "Look at her shine" 

UWDOGS Response - 1 June 2019
This is such positive news! I am thrilled to have your first set of feed-back and how amazing is it that you've witnessed Pepper's immediate attitude change towards bath-time. Such a good sign.

If the itching has subsided some - this is even better - remember - there will be a part of Pepper that is almost on remote. She has itched for so long, that some of her scratches may be fuelled by habit. It will be good to see what happens after the groomer uses the products next time. Please ask her to lightly rinse out the conditioner (leaving most of it on) as you have done this first time round. It will be great to get her feed-back too!

As for the shine…. Enjoy! It’s nice when somebody else notices. A great start, and thank you for keeping such good records. Pepper is looking beautiful😘

26 July 2019
Hi Gayle, Sorry we have not kept closer contact, but it has suddenly become obvious that you were right about Pepper's itch subsiding. We have been so used to her itching that it's taken several weeks to actually note that she is not. There is the occasional dog scratch, but not the incessant itching & we now all sleep through the night!

We began our UWDOGS journey with your Puppy shampoo (extra-mild), and now have graduated to the normal every day dog shampoo. This is working well. Love how it doesn't create lots of soap-suds (bubbles)... it's so easy to wash out.

I did find out along the way that my hubby washed Pepper and didn't use conditioner🙄. The itchy-scratchies returned. I believe the conditioner is making such a huge difference. So now I'm more convinced than ever that I need to get the moisture into her skin, massaging the conditioner in & lightly rinsing... then letting her dry.

Everyone is noticing how shiny and healthy her coat is, not to mention soft and smelling almost edible. This is a huge difference for us and we are so very grateful. Will stay in touch, take care and thank you.

1 September 2019
Winter has been great, with no itching or licking. We have continued to bath Pepper once a week, the Conditioner being our greatest asset. I am unsure if she enjoys her bath, but keeping her skin hydrated means we have had little or no disturbance during the night, and socialising has been fun without stopping to itch all the time.

Some people comment that she could be a model. I tell them, '
Maybe a plus size model🙄'. Also, my parents have never had a dog in their house (over 40 years), but they like how Pepper is clean and smells so fresh, so she is always welcome in their home.

Thank you Gayle and UWDOGS for your beautiful products. We love what you do and your common sense philosophy. We are truly grateful that our paths have allowed us to meet. Thank you.

UWDOGS Response - 4 September 2019

Really happy to hear that Pepper has been showing some solid improvement. This however will be tested come the warmer weather, and if her allergies are as we suspect (grass & pollen) her little body will be put to the test. 

The trick will always be to condition her well. Whether that is a paw bath, or spot bath (under- carriage) or where ever the itch is prevalent. Leave the conditioner on with only a light rinse. If she is getting itchy legs or paws, leave the conditioner on between her toes 🐾🐾 (for want of a better word). As long as the skin is clean, the conditioner will be absorbed and this will aid in her recovery, cooling the area and protecting it as much as is possible.

Fingers crossed, as Spring is in the air. 

4 December 2019
So around October... the weather started getting warmer as Spring kicked in and the pollen's started to do their thing. We noted that Pepper started to lick her paws and itch. We could hear her chewing her paws in the middle of the night. And before we knew it... it was too late... we realised one of her paws was inflamed. 

We had to visit the vet to get antibiotics for the sore. Grrrr... Grass/pollen allergy as we had thought so she was 
prescribed Apoquel - which worked for the allergy, but is so expensive.

We took the Apoquel for a few weeks and combined this with weekly bathing. But it's Spring and s
he was always out and about going everywhere with me, playing ball and running on the grass... laying on the grass.

I was getting allergies from just hugging and patting her, and then my own eyes began to itch! 
Around early November, we decided to stop taking the Apoquel. We figured that we just needed to wash her more regularly...
So our plan was to give her a full wash every third day. The idea being that we would wash away the grass and plant pollen. We focused mainly on the itchy areas, tummy, paws and chin. This bath every third day was great and she immediately had less itchiness and scratching.

We used the usual UWDOGS shampoo and always left the conditioner on, with extra conditioner on the affected areas. During hot days she air dried outside. Cold days we blow-dried her.

I used to dread bathing Pepper with our old brand, because it would take so long to shampoo and then wash all the bubbles out. I couldn't really wash all the conditioner out, and it would leave that sticky feel. Pepper would hate it and sometimes she would bite. I know this was her way of letting us know how she felt, but it made us feel bad.

Using UWDOGS makes it so much easier and faster, no bubbles but a really clean wash and the leave in conditioner saves me time adding the moisture - so it's win win. Pepper continues to lick me during the process😋

Note* We did expect the spring grasses and pollens to affect Pepper, but we have to say the regular baths were the key for us. 
We do not mind washing more often if it helps with her itching. We'd prefer to wash more often than to give her the Apoquel. We will see how see progresses through the hot Summer months.


28 January 2020
Pepper is recovering from an ear infection, probably because we forgot to put cotton wool in her ears during a bath, or maybe from swimming at the beach? So we haven't had a bath or any water play for the last three weeks. 

We're counting down the days now because she is desperate for a swim and needs a bath to get rid of the pollen that is still everywhere. We're actually waiting for a particular ear cleaner to arrive - apparently, it dries the moisture inside the ear and we need to use it after every swim and bath.

I've found that spot washing is great, but I don't want to take the risk of getting any moisture in her ears right now. When I look back on Pepper's allergies I had actually forgotten how bad she was. She has made such improvement especially through the cooler Winter months, alas the Spring pollens did change this. We've managed to keep her comfortable with bathing, again - especially the conditioning process.

Pepper has these obsessive little licks and then she bites. If she starts licking, I say the word 'Shower', and she'll immediately stop licking🤣. It's definitely environmental, grass and pollen from the bushes that she sniffs and walks through. She licks her tummy, it goes red... (fortunately not that hot fluro red). After a bath, this calms down. It's not food related, I like to think of it as doggy hay fever, or a doggy contact dermatitis.

She was definitely out and about more in the Spring because it was warm. In Summer, she tends to be so hot that she's indoors with the air conditioning on. She does go out on the grass for toilet, but the dry grass has been making her paws itch. We know it's the grass because it's the only thing she's been on. 

The sticky weather (even with a summer cut) has also made her smell a bit, whether its sweat, food, or beach outings we're not sure as we live quite close to the ocean and visit at least once a week. It works out well though because she gets her bath about every third day where I focus on giving her paws a good wash and condition.

My husband and I have definitely noted that the regular baths help, and especially on itchy days, spot washing helps too. She seems relieved and happy after a bath or spot wash. We noticed that she sleeps better too because she's not itching, and she doesn't get any itching or licking until her next outing.

I wish we could stop her from going into the grass and bushes, or swimming at the beach, but that's what she loves doing and we would not stop her enjoying her life. She may not enjoy her baths but it's truly for her own good. We feel that we can give her a bath more often as UWDOGS is gentle on her skin and really moisturising, and for our lifestyle so easy and quick to use.
People continue to comment on how her coat is so soft and shiny (we thought that it was soft because she was a puppy). Actually, she is turning two soon and her fur is still super soft, shiny and floofy. People can't stop patting her and ask what we do to keep her coat so soft.

I'll continue with the baths, once a week or every third day spot clean determined by her needs. Leaving the conditioner on is the key. Will let you know how things settle when the cooler weather arrives.

So what does Underwater Dogs think?
Our hearts go out to Tieng and her family, as Pepper's allergy to pollens and grasses is undeniable. I'm proud of them for tending to her needs so beautifully - no matter how often or inconvenient. Pepper's quality of life is definitely better because of their efforts.

We're also thrilled to know that the conditioning process is receiving such positive results. We cannot get rid of the allergy cycle, but we can continue to cleanse, soothe and nourish Pepper's skin, calming the inflammation and building resilience.

On applying the conditioner you literally feel the heat dissipate from your dog's tummy as the product cools and moisturises. We will continue to follow Pepper's journey and hope that as the Summer months pass and the cooler season is upon us that she enjoys a good six months of itch-free nirvana and that Mum & Dad can pull back on the bath-time ritual.

For any doggos out there who are suffering with the same itchy-scratchy predicament, we hope this story gives you hope. We eventually would like to see Pepper return to fortnightly or even monthly baths... and hope the cooler Autumn/Winter months will allow this. We'll pick up her story in about 3 months time and report back with  - Pepper's Story - Part 2.

Love to Tieng & Pepper, Melbourne Australia

Underwater Dogs is professional haircare for canines promising you the cleanest, softest most delicious smelling dog on the block! Professional grooming salon formulas, naturally moisturising shampoos and conditioners are soap-free, paraben-free and pH balanced, made especially for your dog.

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