When you buy shampoo for your dog, do you look for a natural product? Because many shampoos that say they’re natural … aren’t! They may have some natural ingredients, but these are often combined with chemical ingredients that could be harmful to your dog. So you need to know what to look for before you buy dog shampoo.
Greenwashing is the practice of marketing a product as “natural” … even if it’s not. Manufacturers know that dog owners want safe products … so they use sneaky language to fool you into thinking their products are natural. Unfortunately, some “natural” shampoos contain chemicals and toxins ... combined with a few natural ingredients to mislead you. Some may even find a way to suggest their products are organic even though they’re full of artificial ingredients.
Why Avoid Chemicals In Dog Shampoo?
Your dog’s skin is his largest organ. And it absorbs chemicals that can get into his blood stream, which carries it everywhere in his body. Some chemical shampoo ingredients are linked to problems ranging from minor skin irritation to liver or kidney damage, endocrine issues, or even cancer.
Here’s are just a few of the toxic ingredients in dog grooming products.
1. Artificial Colors
Don’t buy shampoos that are brightly colored … because that means they contain artificial dyes that can cause serious health problems. Artificial colors have been linked to cancer, including D&C Blue No. 4, or D&C Yellow No. 8, CI 1940. Natural shampoos should be clear, white or pale yellow.
2. Cocamidopropyl Betaine
This is a surfactant that helps rinse out dirt from your dog’s fur. As the name suggests, it’s made from coconuts … but it’s a chemical compound that can cause allergic skin reactions in your dog.
3. DEA Or Cocamide DEA or MEA
Again, these ingredients come from coconut oil. But it’s combined with diethanolamine, a foaming agent that’s toxic. Avoid these endocrine disrupting ingredients that may even be linked to cancer.
4. Artificial Fragrances
Does your dog come home from the groomer with that “salon aroma?” You may love how your dog’s grooming products smell … but remember it smells thousands of times stronger to him. And it’s not just the scent that can bother him. Artificial fragrances can cause allergies and affect your dog’s immune and nervous systems.
Formaldehyde is a chemical that affects the central nervous system and may cause cancer. It can cause burning or scaling of skin. In shampoos, it may be hidden in these ingredient: doazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea or quarternium-15.
6. Isopropyl alcohol or SD-40
This alcohol is in shampoos to help get rid of the build-up of oils. It also dries out the coat, disrupts healthy bacteria on the skin, and is toxic when it’s absorbed into your dog’s body. It’s a depressant, nerve toxin, lung and heart irritant, and liver toxin.
It’s hard to avoid parabens because so many products have them. They’re preservatives … but they are also endocrine disruptors that are linked to breast cancer. What companies don’t tell you is that they are known endocrine disruptors, and can cause reproductive problems.
8. Mineral Oil
Mineral oil helps skin stay moist … but it also prevents your dog’s skin from eliminating toxins or releasing natural oils. It’s a petroleum product that can cause allergies and contain contaminants.
Polysorbates … like Polysorbate-20 and Polysorbate-80 … are emulsifiers made from sugar alcohol combined with ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen.
10. Propylene Glycol
This chemical comes from natural gas It’s a humectant that coats the hair shaft to retain moisture. Propylene glycol is a strong skin irritant as well as a liver and kidney toxin.
11. Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
These sulfates capture oil and dirt so that they can be washed off the hair shaft. But they also strip out natural oils and cause skin irritations. And sulfates are often put through a softening process that produces toxic 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen. Both sodium and ammonium laureth sulfates are known carcinogens.
Natural Doesn’t Always Mean Natural
As you can see, many of these ingredients start from a natural source but are combined with chemicals that make them toxic.
It’s really hard to read shampoo labels on shampoo bottles and you may need to do some research on the company’s website to find out what’s really in their products.
So how can you keep your dog safe?
Safe Shampoo For Your Dog
The above list shows just a few ingredients to beware of. So what should you look for in your dog’s shampoo?
- Buy a shampoo that’s made for dogs so it has the right pH for your dog’s skin.
- Find a complete ingredient list and do your research on natural ingredients. Read the full ingredient list on the back of the bottle … not just the “natural” claim on the front!
- Always buy a certified organic shampoo if you can. These are products you can trust because the organic certification standards are very strict.
Use the Environmental Working Group’s website as a resource. Their Skin Deep® database lists provides toxicity scores for most skin product ingredients.
Home Made Natural Dog Shampoo
You can also make your own dog shampoo. This video shows you how simple it is to make an all-natural shampoo for your dog with just 4 ingredients (plus water).
Natural Dog Shampoo Recipe
- 1 Tbsp Castile Soap
- 2 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 2 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- 2 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
Combine the above ingredients in a glass jar and stir for 2 minutes.
Add 350 ml filtered water, put the lid on the jar and shake well to combine.
Bathe your dog, rinse him thoroughly and towel off.
It’s easy to make a truly natural, safe, non-toxic shampoo for your dog. He still might not enjoy his bath, but it won’t make him sick!