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DIY Dog Shampoo

Did you know that human shampoo is unsafe to use on our pooches’ precious coats? That’s because our skin is 3 times thicker than theirs, we have sweat glands (dogs only have sweat glands on their paws) and our skin is much more acidic! Dogs have a pH level of 7.5 whereas our skin rests at around 5.5. A dog’s skin is much more basic, sensitive, and thin. As a result, we must cater to their needs and be careful to use gentle ingredients. Healthy skin contributes to a healthy (and beautiful) body!

Unlike people, dogs should not be bathed more than once a month. If a dog is bathed more than once a month, he or she may begin to suffer from dry skin. If you cannot wait this long to bathe your smelly pup, try a dry shampoo (try the homemade dry shampoo recipe below).

What to Avoid When Shopping

Beware when shopping for doggy shampoos! Many companies add unnatural, chemical ingredients to their products which can, in some cases, irritate the skin and coat, cause changes to hormones and contribute to various cancers.  How awful is that? Generally, if you cannot pronounce the ingredient name or don’t know what it is., do not buy it! Here are some ingredients we poo-poo in our doggy shampoo:

  • Phytoshingosine (has been known to cause asthma attacks in humans)
  • Artificial Coloring (some are cancerous)
  • Cocomide DEA or MEA (used to make products foamy)
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine (effects the immune system)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Fragrances
  • Isopropyl Alcohol or SD-40 (depressent, toxin, lowers immune system)
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (known carcinogen, banned in Japan and Canada)
  • Parabens (carcinogen used as a preservitive)
  • Mineral Oil (byproduct of distilled gasoline that prevents skin from making its own oil)
  • Phthalates (used for fragrance, disrupts hormones)
  • Polyethylene Glycol/PEG (carcinogen)
  • Polysorbates (disrupts skin pH, carcinogen)
  • Propylene Glycol: (toxin, skin irritant used for locking in moisture)
  • Sulfates: (carcinogen, irritates skin. Used to lock oil and dirt out of the hair so it can be washed away)

So what should you look for? Here are some useful ingredients found in dog shampoo:

  • Salicylic acid, menthol, colloidal oatmeal, aloe, and hydrocortisone all help to relieve itching
  • Shampoos with lactic acid, oatmeal, emollients, Vitamin E, fatty acids, and glycerin help to moisturize dry and sensitive skin.
  • Almond and coconut oil help keep your pup’s coat shiny and moisturized.


Of course if you want to be 100% sure your shampoo is pet friendly, you can easily make your own. Shampoos only require 3-5 ingredients and will save you some cash!

Below are lists of safe ingredients you can mix and match to make a perfect shampoo for the needs of your pup:


  • Castile Soap (can be purchased online or in health food stores) is a soap made from olive oil that comes in liquid and solid forms.
  • Baby Shampoo is gentle enough to wash your pooch with
  • Baking Soda is an excellent shampoo for people and pooches alike as it cleans hair/fur without stripping off the body’s oils.


  • Adding Vegetable Glycerin (available in health food stores or online) or Olive Oil to your shampoo will help prevent stripping of your pup’s precious oils and replace the natural oily coating that may get washed away.
  • Aloe Vera is a lovely moisturizer and skin soother for pooch and human alike.
  • Glycerin is a fabulous skin soother (a sugar based, water-soluble alcohol compound. You can find glycerine in drug stores or online).


  • White or Apple Cider Vinegar are natural deodorants
  • Essential Oils in orange, lemon, lavender (which also prevents flea infestations), or rose. Thyme, rosemary, and citronella also repel fleas. Fragrances used in human shampoo are too harsh for your pet, but essential oils are gentle enough for them (and will make them smell like a million barks!) However, essential oils are not created equal and some (like pennyroyal and tea tree) are hazardous to your pet.


  • White or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Vegetable Glycerin, Olive oil, Coconut Oil, Almond Oil
  • Cornstarch

And here are some natural, dog shampoo recipes you can easily make at home:

*Adjust ingredient amounts depending on size of your dog

*Many DIY dog shampoo recipes recommend using nontoxic dish soaps such as Dawn. This is a bad idea because the dish soap will strip the natural oils and flea preventatives from your pup’s hair.

General Cleaner:

  1. 1/2 cup of Castile soap
  2. 1/4 cup of white or apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 Tablespoon of olive oil or vegetable glycerin
  4. 2 Tablespoons of water
  5. (Optional) Add 3 or 4 drops of essential oils (lavendar, lemon, etc.) for fragrance.

For Dry Skin:

  1. 1 quart of water
  2. 1 cup of baby shampoo
  3. 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  4. 1/3 cup glycerine
  5. 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel

For Fleas:

  1. 1 quart of water
  2. 1 cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 cup of baby shampoo

*After bathing with flea shampoo, allow 24-48 hours before putting on topical flea medication. This will allow the natural oils your dog produces to spread over his/her coat and better bind with the topical product.

Dry Shampoo:

  1. 1 cup baking soda
  2. 1 cup cornstarch
  3. A few drops of essential oil in orange, lemon, lavender (which also prevents flea infestations), or rose.

To use dry shampoo powder, first brush your dog throughly. Then work the powder through his/her coat thoroughly and make sure you rub down to the skin. Leave the powder on for 20-50 minutes depending on the strength of the odor. Throughly brush your pup again to remove dirt, dander, and powder.

*If your dog has dry skin, alternating monthly between using dry shampoo and a moisturizing, wet bath is a great way to keep your dog’s coat healthy and beautiful.

Remember as person-like as out pets often seem, they are entirely different animals that have entirely different bodily needs. Using the most natural and simplest shampoo ingredients verified by veterinarians is the best way to keep your pup healthy and smelling like a bed of roses!




Rich Miller