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FDA Warns Asthma Sufferers About Medicated Shampoo

pet shampoo ingredientThe FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine has issued a warning to pet owners with asthma to be careful with a pet care product called Douxo Seborrhea Shampoo, manufactured by Sogeval Laboratories.

The FDA is currently investigating two incidents in March in which two asthmatic members of the same family suffered asthma attacks while bathing a dog with the shampoo. The first incident, involving a woman with severe asthma, resulted in her death. The second incident occurred a few days later and involved another family member with asthma who suffered a mild attack while shampooing the same dog with the same product.

Pet owners with asthma or other respiratory conditions should consider consulting a doctor before using the product, according to the FDA.

Per Clinician's Brief:

Certain veterinary products, including shampoos such as Douxo Seborrhea Shampoo, are classified by the FDA as "unapproved animal drug products," an action taken to "ensure availability of some essential animal drug products."

This discretionary classification indicates that the FDA has not yet undertaken evaluation of products within this class because of its limited resources but that it wishes to ensure that these products "remain available for addressing the health needs of animals."

The FDA is continuing its investigation into the reported incidents. Sogeval Laboratories maintains the product in question is within specifications and is aware of no other similar events among consumers using the shampoo.

Dr. Becker's Comments:

This shampoo, which I don't use at my hospital,  contains 0.1 percent phytosphingosine.

According to the Douxo product datasheet:

Phytosphingosine is a natural component of the epidermis. It plays a key role in the building and maintenance of the skin defense barrier.

Lack of phytosphingosine is associated with
- seborrheic dermatitis,
- alterations of both the skin and the lipidic surface film
- bacterium and yeast invasion of the lesions.

Local administration helps restructuring the stratum corneum, controlling the seborrhoea and the superficial bacterial proliferation. It enhances the aspect of the skin and the fur, controls the repellent smell associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

The full list of ingredients:


It's impossible to say whether one or a combination of the ingredients in the shampoo triggered the reported asthma attacks.

Or perhaps something else in the environment contributed to the asthma attacks the two family members suffered.

Canine Seborrhea

Seborrhea is a common skin problem in dogs. It is characterized by dry or greasy skin that is itchy and inflamed, a flaky coat and an unpleasant odor.

There are three types of canine seborrhea:

  • Seborrhea sicca or dry seborrhea in which the skin is dry and flaky
  • Seborrhea oleosa or oily seborrhea in which there are both dry flakes and greasy skin, and a distinct odor
  • Seborrheic dermatitis which features greasy and flaky skin with inflammation

Seborrhea can either be a primary condition or a secondary condition brought on by some other disease.

Primary idiopathic seborrhea is hereditary and is more common in certain breeds, including Basset Hounds, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Labs, Shar-peis, Spaniels and Westies.

Secondary seborrhea can be caused by diseases including:

The secondary form of the condition can be resolved by treating the underlying disease, so the first thing you should do is have your pet accurately diagnosed by a veterinarian.

Primary seborrhea, unfortunately, is rarely cured, but the symptoms can be treated and minimized.

Traditional methods for controlling seborrhea include specially medicated shampoos . Keeping the coat short during treatment helps get the shampoo onto the dog's skin.

Seborrhea is the same condition in cats as it is in dogs, but kitties typically get the dry, flaky seborrhea sicca form. It often looks like dandruff on the fur of dark coated cats. Since most kitties do not like baths, medicated shampoos are usually not prescribed for feline seborrhea.

Suggestions for Pets with Seborrhea or Other Skin Conditions

Like any skin condition suffered by your cat or dog, seborrhea is closely associated with your pet's diet and immune system function.

  • Feed a moisture-rich, balanced species-appropriate diet and avoid highly processed pet foods containing poor quality ingredients, grains, additives and preservatives.
  • Make sure your pet is getting adequate omega-3 fatty acids. Whether you feed a commercial diet or a homemade diet, you may need to supplement with essential fatty acids. My favorite is krill oil, but I also see good improvement in dry, flaky coats when coconut oil is supplemented.
  • If you don’t want to use a medicated shampoo, regular baths with a gentle, non-abrasive shampoo and routine brushing will help control symptoms.
  • Protect your pet’s immune system by avoiding over-vaccinating and over treating with commonly prescribed veterinary drugs like antibiotics and steroids.

+ Sources and References
  • Clinician’s Brief May 18, 2011