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Taking care of our furry pals is a major part of our lives, and we want only the best when it comes to pet products for our canines. Pet parents are becoming aware of the alarmingly and potentially toxic ingredients present in many products for dogs. The good news is that when it comes to hygiene products, pet parents do have an alternative—like a homemade dog shampoo.
You don’t have to be an expert DIY’er to create this natural product! With just a few ingredients, you can make the perfect shampoo for Fido right in your own home, saving money and protecting him from harsh chemicals.
Why should I consider creating my own homemade dog shampoo recipes?
Let’s talk about commercial pet products for a second. There are a wealth of wonderful, ethical pet product companies that use the best ingredients and never take shortcuts. However, not all pet product companies follow this ideal.
Companies know that more pet parents are looking for “all-natural” pet shampoo, so the market for that demographic. They put labels on the product such as “naturally derived” or “made from natural products,” but this isn’t quite true.
You see, many chemicals are naturally derived, but they can have highly detrimental effects on Fido’s health. Sulfates are created by naturally occurring chemicals. Diazolidinyl urea, as well as parabens, are all chemicals that have natural origins. If you check a list of ingredients on the most popular shampoos for pups, you’ll likely see these ingredients—as well as a “natural” label somewhere on the bottle.
These “natural” chemicals can wreak havoc on Fido’s skin and his overall health.
Humans began to recognize that parabens and sulfates were causing allergic reactions, and it wasn’t long before pet parents found that the same common ingredients in pet shampoos were making Fido miserable too.
These ingredients are still approved for use by the FDA. However, the FDA has a bit of a different regulation when it comes to pet shampoos. While the FDA mandates that no product—human or animal—can make false claims on their labels, since these chemicals are made from compounds that initially come from natural ingredients, there exists a loophole that some unethical companies continue to utilize. The government can’t tell these companies to change their product because the label isn’t technically untrue. So, it’s up to pet parents to take charge of their pets’ health.
You probably use these products for grooming your pet by yourself, not knowing that the ingredients can cause dry skin as well as allergic reactions in their pets. Pet parents bathe Fido regularly, thinking they are promoting good health in their dogs. Eventually, they notice that Fido is chewing at his skin, hot spots are popping up on Fido’s body, and they may even notice dog hair loss in some cases. Adding to this is the fact that Fido can’t provide verbal guidance on symptoms, so, often, pet parents and vets are forced to go through a laundry list of tests in order to diagnose the problem—Fido’s shampoo.
How do I figure out if my current pet shampoo is causing my dog’s allergies or dry skin?
The best thing to do is check the ingredients list. If you see chemical-looking names, fragrances, sulfates, parabens, and sulfides on the list, then it’s time to go for a truly all-natural shampoo.
Keep in mind that pet shampoos are marketed to humans, not dogs. Many companies work diligently to make pet shampoo appealing to humans. They may add artificial colors to the product to catch our human eyes. If you go into the pet supply store and spot a pet shampoo that is a bright blue or hot pink color (even lavender or dark purple), those pet shampoos are to be avoided at all costs! Another giveaway regarding artificial ingredients are present in a pet shampoo is a strong fragrance. You can bet that perfumes have been added to this product.
If you want to try a truly all-natural pet shampoo, here’s what to look for in the product. The label may or may not say naturally derived products, but it will say all-natural because it truly is (remember, the FDA won’t allow product labels to make false claims ). Look at the product – it will be a dull yellow in color if it has any color at all. Open the lid and take a good whiff. A truly all-natural shampoo will have only a faint hint of fragrance when truly derived from natural products. If you can, tip the bottle and pour a small bit in your hand. The truly all-natural pet shampoo will be watery in its consistency.
What ingredients do I need to make my own dog shampoo?
There are several approaches you can take to making DIY dog shampoo. Let’s begin by looking at a basic homemade dog shampoo recipe.
- two cups of warm water
- 1/4 cup NON-TOXIC dishwashing detergent
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
The key to this recipe is that if you choose to use dishwashing detergent, it MUST be non-toxic. Some dish soaps are common in many homes, and they have been used to clean animals affected by oil spills in the past. Therefore, many think they are safe for use in a homemade dog shampoo. While they are safe in that regard, some DO contain sulfates. So, before throwing your favorite dish soap in the mixture, make sure to read the ingredients list. There ARE non-toxic dish soaps available at your local market or via the Internet, so be sure the dish soap you choose does not contain chemicals, or you’re defeating the purpose of making your own dog shampoo.
Some pet parents may question using white vinegar, but it is a great cleanser as well as a natural one. Plus, white vinegar will naturally rid your dog’s fur of smells.
You’ll combine all these ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. You’ll wet Fido’s coat with warm water, then spray the mixture on Fido’s coat. Be careful to avoid the eye area when spraying. You’ll be able to create a lather by working the mixture into your dog’s coat. Be sure to rinse thoroughly—which you may have to do repeatedly.
Homemade Dog Shampoo for Dogs with Dry Skin
Some dogs naturally deal with dry skin. Bulldogs are one breed that may have issues simply based on their genetics. However, you can still make a homemade dog shampoo for your pooch with skin issues too! One of the key ingredients you can add to your homemade dog shampoo is glycerin. This can be procured at local pharmacies and online. Also, some grocery stores may carry glycerin. You’ll also need aloe vera gel.
For a homemade dog shampoo with soothing ingredients, perfect for pups with dry skin:
- one quart of water
- 1 cup of non-toxic dish detergent
- 1 cup of white or apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup glycerin
- 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
Using this type of shampoo on your dog involves much the same as when using the original recipe for a homemade dog shampoo. Mix all ingredients into a spray bottle. Shake well to mix, then spray to your dog’s dampened coat. Be sure to avoid the eyes, and rinse until the shampoo has been thoroughly removed from your dog’s coat.
Oatmeal Dog Shampoo for Dogs with Dry Skin
Oatmeal is a great shampoo ingredient for dogs that fight dry skin issues. You may have noticed oatmeal in human products as well, and that’s because oatmeal has a great reputation for soothing dry, itchy skin.
For the oatmeal homemade dog shampoo, gather the following:
- one cup of UNCOOKED oatmeal
- 1/2 cup of baking soda
- one quart of warm water
You’ll need to first use a coffee grinder to a food processor to grind the cup of oatmeal into a powdery form. You want to make sure the oatmeal is the consistency of flour before mixing it into the spray bottle.
Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle, and shake well. Spray the mixture onto Fido’s dampened fur, and work the shampoo into his coat. Again, rinse well.
Is there a way to make a homemade dog shampoo that is flea and tick repellent?
Yes! You’ll do this by using the essential oil lavender in the mixture.
NOTE: Not all dogs may be able to tolerate essential oils. It is best to always dilute the essential oil by adding it to the mixture rather than spraying your dog with 100 percent essential oil. If you are unsure, ask your vet before adding it to your homemade dog shampoo.
It is imperative that you use only pure essential oil, not something you’ve picked up at the local grocer (unless the store features organic products that have been tested and actually contain nothing but the essential oil).
It is also important to make sure your dog doesn’t ingest any essential oil, even diluted.
Ingredients for a flea-repellent homemade dog shampoo include:
- ten ounces warm water
- two ounces of aloe vera gel
- one tablespoon of Castile soap
- two drops of lavender essential oil
Place each ingredient in a clean spray bottle and shake to mix properly. Wet your dog’s fur with warm water, then spray the mixture into his fur. Be sure to work it into hard-to-reach areas, but do not spray in the eyes or the genitals. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, and be sure to get your dog completely dry.
What could happen if I don’t rinse my dog’s fur properly?
Your dog could actually develop itchy and dry skin just as if you used regular dog shampoo on your pup. For dogs that already have issues with dry skin, they could really ramp up the itching and scratching! Usually, rinsing thoroughly may mean rinsing two or three times in order to make sure your dog’s fur is soap-free.
1. Can you use human shampoo on a dog?
It is best not to use human shampoo on a dog. This includes baby shampoo, even though you may find recipes for a homemade dog shampoo that include baby shampoo. Any chemicals in human shampoos can be detrimental to your dog’s skin. In fact, they can cause your dog a lot of misery—hot spots, itchy skin, and possible loss of fur from chewing or scratching at the skin. So, it is best to avoid any kind of human shampoo for your dog.
2. How do I make a homemade dog shampoo?
There are many ways to make a homemade dog shampoo. Typically, non-toxic dish detergent, white vinegar, and warm water are all one needs to make a dog shampoo at home. Don’t forget the spray bottle as a container!