If you’ve ever shopped for dog shampoo, you’ve probably noticed that there are a ton of different kinds. Some are cheap, some are pricey, and they all contain different kinds of ingredients. It can be hard to know what to choose. But the worst part? Some of these shampoos may even end up irritating or drying out your dog’s skin.
The good news is, you can easily make a homemade dog shampoo using natural ingredients that can benefit your dog’s skin and coat. So, next time you wash your pooch, consider making your own natural dog shampoo right at home.
Keep reading for a few easy-to-make shampoos that will have your dog looking, smelling, and feeling great.
Why Make A Homemade Dog Shampoo? And Why To Avoid Human Shampoo At All Costs
A lot of pet owners are under the impression that human shampoo is safe for dogs — but unfortunately, it isn’t. You should never use any sort of shampoo meant for humans — even baby shampoo — on your dog. Here’s why:
Stripping Skin Of Important Protective Substances
There are significant differences between human and dog skin. Both humans and dogs have a barrier on the surface of the skin, known as the acid mantle. It helps protect us from potentially harmful contaminants, including viruses and bacteria. It also helps to keep skin hydrated. Human shampoo and soap can strip that layer, but these products may also contain moisturizers that can replace the layer until it naturally regenerates.1
Here’s why that’s a problem: Human skin has a pH level that ranges from 5.2 to 6.2, and human-grade shampoos and soaps are made to keep our pH levels within that range.
A dog’s skin, on the other hand, can reach as high as 7.5, so when human shampoo (such as baby shampoo) is repeatedly used on a dog’s body, that can disrupt a dog’s acid mantle. This could leave the skin vulnerable to parasites and other contaminants.2
Easy Homemade DIY Dog Wash: Making An All Natural Dog “Dry Shampoo”
You can also make a homemade dog dry shampoo to use in between baths. If your dog tends to resist a bath, this option might just work. Your pet will simply think you’re giving him or her a lot of love. All you need is 1 cup of corn starch, 1 cup of baking soda, and a few drops of lavender essential oil. (If you have a small pooch, use a half cup of baking soda and corn starch instead.)
Here’s how it’s done:
- Mix the ingredients together in a bowl
- Sprinkle them on your dog’s coat
- Massage them thoroughly into your dog’s coat, so it reaches their skin. You can use a brush, a comb, or your hands for this part.
And that’s it! Just be sure to do this outside if possible, so your dog can shake everything off once you’re done.
Remember: just like with store-bought cleansers, you’ll want to keep any homemade shampoos well away from your dog’s eyes.
Does Your Dog Have Dry Skin? Try These Homemade Shampoo Recipes
A homemade dog shampoo with castile soap is great for dogs with itchy skin. Here’s how to make it.
- Pour four cups of water in a bottle.
- Add three Tbsp of baking soda to the water.
- Add ½ cup of castile soap.
- Put a lid on the bottle and shake to mix the ingredients.
- Pour a ¼ cup of the mixture onto your dog’s back and massage throughout the body.
- Rinse well.
Keep the rest of the shampoo in a cool, dry area of your home. You should be able to use it for as long as six months.
Another homemade dog shampoo for dogs with skin irritation contains vegetable glycerin. Also known as glycerin, this is a substance that might help relieve itching. Here’s what you’ll need for this DIY dog shampoo:
- 1/3 cup of glycerin
- 1 quart of water
- 1 cup of castile soap
- 1 cup of white vinegar (apple cider vinegar will also work)
- 2 Tbsp of aloe vera gel
- 1 quart of water
Simply combine the following ingredients into a spray bottle, and massage the mixture into your dog’s coat for a few minutes until it thoroughly soaks in. Make sure to rinse them off well when you’re done!
And finally, there’s one more thing that can help relieve a dog’s itchy skin: Oatmeal. Yes, the oatmeal you have in your kitchen! (As long as it doesn’t have any added sugar or flavors.) Here’s how you do it:
- Use a food processor or blender to grind up 1 cup of plain oatmeal.
- Mix your ground-up oatmeal with a quart of warm water, and half a cup of baking soda in a bowl.
- Massage the mixture into your dog’s coat.
- Let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it all out well with water.
You can also read about dog itching remedies to help give your dog some relief.
Pamper Your Pooch: Simple DIY Organic Dog Conditioner
For an added “spa experience” that will leave your dog’s coat extra soft and shiny, here’s what you need to prepare a simple conditioning rinse:
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary
- 4 cups water
All it takes is a little preparation (you’ll want to do this before bathtime):
- Add the rosemary and water to a saucepan.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Remove from heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.
- Strain out the rosemary.
- Allow the mixture to cool further, to body temperature (you can bathe your dog while you wait).
- At the end of the bath, pour the rosemary infusion over your dog’s body.
WARNING: Rosemary can pose a risk for dogs with epilepsy — so if your dog has a history of seizures, you’ll want to avoid this recipe.
Adding Ingredients For Great Scent: Lavender Oil
Adding a few drops of lavender oil into the above recipes helps your dog smell good. It’s also good for your pet, as it can soothe the nerves. One study showed that lavender oil helped calm dogs during travel.3 Just make sure to use this sparingly.
Can You Use Other Essential Oils?
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for all other essential oils. Some can be fine for humans, but downright dangerous for dogs.
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is one example. Pet owners will sometimes use it in order to repel fleas, but tea tree oil can lead to several problems, such as irritated skin, depression, vomiting, and even paralysis.
Pennyroyal is another essential oil that can be toxic — and potentially lead to liver damage.4
You should also steer clear of wintergreen essential oil — which is sometimes used to help relieve muscle pain in humans. In dogs, though, it can lead to liver and kidney damage as well as severe gastrointestinal problems.5
One final ingredient you should steer clear of is lye. It seems odd, but you will actually see some recipes for homemade dog shampoos online that contain lye. This substance, however, can be very toxic to dogs and should be avoided altogether when it comes to your furry friend.6 Similarly, be careful with recipes that call for hydrogen peroxide — which can dry out the skin and could cause vomiting if your dog swallows any.
Talk To Your Vet
If your dog has any specific health issues, make sure you speak with your vet first before making a homemade dog shampoo. He or she might even recommend other recipes that can act as a wash as well as conditioner for your dog’s fur.
With so many options at your fingertips, there’s sure to be a shampoo out there that’s perfect for your pup — even if that means whipping one up right at home.
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