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4-Month Old Itchy Labrador Retriever Puppy

June 3, 2012
Black lab puppy with super-soft fur that felt slippery and left an invisible "heavy" feeling coating on my hands after petting her.

Samantha Mugs for Doc Truli

Labrador Retriever Puppy Itchy All Over

Samantha was the cutest black Labrador Retriever puppy Doc Truli had seen in years. Perfect proportions, beautiful shiny fur, intelligent, calm personality.  Just exactly what you hope for when you adopt a Lab puppy.  Her mom, Tina, was young.  Her sun dress and sandals looked casual, but ready to take a Lab puppy to the park.

“Doc, is she ready to go for puppy training classes?” asked Tina, “We signed up at the dog sports club to start classes on Friday.”  OMG! What an awesome dog mommy.

“You can take her at any time.  Her vaccines are up to date and you do not have to wait until they are all given to start training and socializing her in public,” said Doc Truli. Finally the AVMA came around and issued a sensible policy statement about puppy socialization and vaccines.

“I have one question,” said Samantha’s perfect mommy, “she seems itchy all over.  Is there anything I can do for her?”

Indeed, Samantha the black Labrador puppy was very, very itchy.  During the 20 minute consultation, she licked her front legs, scratched her ribcage with her hind leg, licked her thigh and scratched behind her ear.  Doc was surprised.  This puppy had no dandruff, no fleas or “flea dirt” (little black specks of digested blood from flea excrement).  She looked the picture of health. Food allergies are common in Labs, but they usually express themselves after 6-12 months of eating the same ingredients day in and day out (beef, chicken, corn, soy, and egg in the US, lamb in Australia, for example). Maybe she’s a really young food allergic lab.

“I’ve been using baby shampoo from the store, should I switch shampoos?” asked Tina.

“Dog shampoos are formulated especially for their skin,” said Doc Truli, petting the puppy, while she thought about the itchiness.  She is incredibly soft and smooth, and her fur is shinier than I’ve ever seen on a puppy.

“You know,” said Doc Truli,”Samantha feels like bed sheets feel after you’ve washed them and then used dryer sheets. I’ve even got this invisible coating on my hands.”

“I was just thinking, ‘What’s this coating on my hands after I pet her?'” said Samantha’s mom.  “You know, it does feel like dryer sheets.  And I wash her bedding with dryer sheets three times a week.

Doc Truli said, “Did you know those dryer sheets are potentially toxic?” I even wrote an article about it.

“I’m going to stop using them right away and see if the puppy stops being itchy.”

4 weeks later, we had a perfect bill of health!  Samantha felt a little less supernaturally silky, but she was 100% comfortable!

As a final aside note: It is notoriously difficult to photograph black-furred animals.  Photographers know the black does not show up as well as lighter colors.  (Did you notice the cute yellow lab puppies selling flea products and toilet paper on TV?) Doc Truli did notice how easy it was to photograph Samantha.  Perhaps the dryer sheet coating on her fur made her reflective and highly photogenic!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Tiffany permalink
    August 28, 2013 9:05 am

    Thank you for posting! I have a 4 month old lab-mix who won’t stop scratching. We haven’t found the cause yet. I don’t wash her bedding that often, but I will stop using dryer sheets when I do. Question… do you think it’s OK to still put them in the dryer (without dyer sheets), or does the dyer have the film on it too?

    • August 28, 2013 6:11 pm


      I’m not a dryer sheet expert, but there is some film in there I know because if you put a microfiber cloth in the dryer, if a dryer sheet was used recently, the microfiber cloth will pick it up and then be less effective for cleaning.

      But after that, it should be good to use to dry the puppy stuff.

      Doc Truli

  2. June 28, 2012 9:39 pm

    I own a Border Collie and never knew that the dryer sheets are toxic to dogs! Thank god I stumbled on this post. Although I don’t wash my dogs bed that often, which I probably should.. I’ll stop putting it in the dryer.

  3. Bart Springer permalink
    June 3, 2012 1:09 pm

    Hi Doc Truli,

    That Lab pup IS very cute. Thanks for the great story about this awesome dog mommy.

    Bart Springer in Pennsylvania

    • June 3, 2012 6:28 pm

      Thanks dad. And thank you for reading.
      She is a super-cute puppy. I know she’ll be a great dog because her mom is so perfect for her.

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