Colloidal Oatmeal - What is it? And why it's good for your dog's skin and coat

Oats are not just a delicious, and nutritious breakfast food full of beneficial vitamins and minerals. They can also have incredible benefits when applied topically, as part of the correct formulation.

Colloidal oatmeal is one of our favorite ingredients to use in our products, especially for dogs with more sensitive and dry skin. But there are many myths surrounding the use of oats, and it can be hard to separate fact from fiction when reading things online.

There's a difference between the oatmeal that you eat and the ingredient that actually ends up in topical products. There are various forms of oatmeal, such as hydrolyzed oat protein and whole oat grain. In this article, we are going to focus on colloidal oatmeal, how it differs from other oat-based ingredients and its amazing benefits for your dog's skin and coat. Plus, we'll debunk some common myths with actual facts!

what is colloidal oatmeal

What is colloidal oatmeal? And why it's good for your dog's skin!

What is colloidal oatmeal?

Colloidal oatmeal is Avena Sativa (or whole oat grain) that is finely ground to form a powder that can dissolve into water or other liquids to form a paste, which can then be applied to the skin. This process turns the oat grain into an emollient, which means that when you apply it to your dog's skin, it forms a protective layer that hydrates the skin and keeps the moisture from escaping. Unlike oat flour, which often has the bran removed to make it taste better, colloidal oatmeal still contains the bran, which has essential skin-soothing properties. Because of the particle size of the oats in this format, the skin can soak in all the amazing skin-softening and calming elements. This ingredient is an extraordinary force of nature, combining healthy fats, proteins, lipids, vitamins, and minerals, which all help to support skin health.

According to the National Library of Medicine, oats have been used throughout history topically to treat irritated, itchy skin and as an anti-inflammatory. Burns, eczema, and painful skin rashes have been naturally soothed with the healing properties of oats for hundreds of years. In 1945, colloidal oatmeal became commercially available and began appearing in various topical products, from shampoo to hydrating creams. And now – in our dog shampoos and conditioners. If humans can enjoy the benefits of colloidal oatmeal, why not our dogs too?

Why is colloidal oatmeal good for your dog's skin?

Taking classes with expert dog cosmetologists has provided some incredible insight into colloidal oatmeal as an ingredient and its benefits. There is lots of misinformation on Google, so it can be challenging to know which sources are reliable and which you should think twice about. Skilled dog groomers have also weighed in on the topic after many years of using products containing colloidal oatmeal and witnessing first-hand the benefits. From here, we've compiled the top ways that colloidal oatmeal can support your dog's skin and coat health.

benefits of colloidal oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal has many benefits for your dogs skin and coat.

1. PH balancing

We are all constantly striving for balance. And so is our skin! Healthy skin is naturally slightly acidic, the acidity aiding the skin in its function as a defense against disease. There are many different factors that impact the acidity of the skin, with some of them being out of our control. When a dog's skin is out of balance due to poor environmental conditions, being constantly moist, and low nutrient food intake, it weakens the immune system, which can cause all kinds of skin problems, including excess yeast.

Topical products containing colloidal oatmeal can neutralize your dog's alkalinity and restore the pH levels of your dog's skin. That's because it's naturally slightly acidic, normalizing your dog's high pH levels and returning your dog's skin to balance and comfort. Oatmeal is a prebiotic which helps to nurture the friendly bacteria of the skin microbiome. Topical products containing colloidal oatmeal will never encourage or feed yeast. In fact, when you rinse the products off, it actually helps to fight yeast by removing the dead skin cells that yeast feeds on.

Something else that can impact the pH of your dog's skin is antibiotics. If your dog is on antibiotics for any ailment, it will dramatically weaken their immune system and strip the skin of healthy bacteria, similar to what happens to humans. Products containing colloidal oatmeal can help give the skin an extra boost, restoring balance and fostering a healthy biome. If you need to give your dog antibiotics for any reason, it's important to avoid using medicated shampoos, which can further disrupt the balanced biome and make it worse. Stick to natural options like the Doglyness OATS Calming line.

2. Soothes dry, itchy skin

Being itchy is incredibly unpleasant and uncomfortable for dogs. Dry skin is very common among dogs, especially short-haired breeds like French and English Bulldogs, Shar-Peis, Pitbulls, and hairless breeds like Xoloitzcuintli. But beyond that, any dog can experience dry skin. There are many different factors that can cause dry skin on dogs, such as allergies, fleas, cold weather, sunburn, and poor nutrition, but they can all be soothed with hydrating colloidal oatmeal. As we mentioned above, colloidal oatmeal acts as an emollient, which creates a protective layer on your dog's skin. This helps to lock in moisture and shield the skin from environmental pollutants. Keeping in that moisture enables the colloidal oatmeal to work its magic by penetrating the skin to soften and heal it.

dog skin sensitivity colloidal oatmeal

Skin sensitivity is common in dogs due to genetics & these geo-aggressors.

3. Antioxidant and skin protectant

Antioxidants are powerful substances that protect both humans and dogs against harmful free radicals, which supports the prevention of cancer, heart disease, immune deficiency, and more. When ingredients containing antioxidants are applied to your dog, it helps to protect the surface of the skin from free radicals in the atmosphere and environmental factors like pollution and UVA rays. In 2003, the FDA officially classified colloidal oatmeal as a skin protectant. Colloidal oatmeal contains multiple antioxidants, including avenanthramides, vitamin E, phenolic compounds, phytic acid, and flavonoids.

The flavonoids in colloidal oatmeal absorb UVA rays to help further protect skin from sunburn, which is especially important for short-haired dogs who lack the protection of a long coat. Sunburn can lead to skin sensitivity and painful skin irritation, so this added protection is essential. Plus, as our dogs aren't necessarily careful with their skincare routines and spend lots of time rolling around in things they shouldn't be, the extra boost that antioxidants provide is definitely needed.

4. Reduces skin inflammation

There are many factors that contribute to skin irritation in dogs. While some breeds are more susceptible than others, all dogs can experience skin inflammation, which can be incredibly uncomfortable and painful. This can lead to itching, redness, hair loss, infections, and more severe long-term skin conditions. One of the top active compounds in colloidal oatmeal is beta-glucan, which reduces skin inflammation, and minimizes redness and skin sensitivity from weather changes, bug bites, fleas, dermatitis, or allergic reactions. Numerous studies have also shown the chemical profile of colloidal oatmeal to lower the activity of cytokine proteins and histamines, which cause skin inflammation.

5. Gentle cleansing for skin and coat

Colloidal oatmeal naturally contains saponins, which create a soap-like foam when they come into contact with liquids. This foam acts as a natural cleanser, which helps lift dirt and pollutants from your dog's skin and coat, plus boosts shine and smoothness. This a much more gentle and natural method of cleansing than using harsh exfoliants or toxic chemicals, which can upset the pH balance of your dog's skin and lead to skin sensitivity and irritation. The saponins provide mild cleansing that doesn't strip the skin or coat of essential natural oils and maintains the optimal pH balance.

colloidal oatmeal dog shampoo

Our OATS Calming Line is well-suited to dogs with sensitive, dry and itchy skin.

Oatmeal product myths 

As with any product or ingredient available, there are myths about oatmeal-based products. These come as a result of articles that piece together information from unverified sources, leading to inaccurate data. One of the most common myths is that oatmeal causes yeast infections.

The logic is that oatmeal is a carbohydrate and that carbs break down into starch which then breaks down into sugar. Since sugar feeds yeast, it is assumed that using oatmeal-based products will cause a yeast infection. But this couldn't be further from the truth. The only way that oatmeal will impact yeast infections in your dog is when ingested, not when applied topically. There is no evidence to support claims that oat shampoo causes or supports the growth of yeast in dogs. Pathogenic yeast grows in moist/humid environments and feeds on dead skin cells, not oatmeal cleansing and conditioning products.

The common causes of yeast infections in dogs include medications like antibiotics, treats that are full of sugar and carbohydrates, and eat high-fat, processed dog food made with low-quality ingredients. Another cause of yeast infections in dogs is yeast-based remedies or supplements containing yeast extract. Oatmeal shampoos will NOT feed yeast. Nothing topically applied and rinsed off can feed yeast.

That said, no matter what you choose to apply to your dog, always avoid any products with toxic ingredients likes Cocamide MEA, parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, synthetic fragrances and dyes, formaldehyde, and isopropyl alcohol. Find out more about toxic ingredients to look out for in pet care products here

toxic ingredients in dog shampoo

Always avoid these toxic ingredients when choosing dog care products.

Should you use colloidal oatmeal on your dog?

Pet care products containing colloidal oatmeal are incredibly beneficial for your dog's skin and coat. Expert dog groomers have been using products with colloidal oatmeal for years to cleanse, nourish and soothe their doggy clients, and treat dogs with skin conditions and sensitivity. And with many years of research on this beneficial ingredient, FDA approval, and an Environmental Working Group score of 1, you can trust that colloidal oatmeal is safe and effective for your furbabies. We use colloidal oatmeal as one of the primary ingredients in our OATS Calming Line, which is tailored to dogs with sensitive skin, especially puppies and elderly dogs who require extra skin support, nourishment, and skin-soothing relief.