As I was researching for this blog, I looked up the ingredients in dog shampoos (many of which are promoted by specialists and vets) and was surprised to find many toxic chemicals that we try our best to avoid, such as SLS, lurking in the small print. Apart from being more natural and kinder to dog’s sensitive skin, cheaper and less waste, this is yet another good reason to make your own shampoo for your four-footed friends!
* I refer to dogs and dog shampoo mostly because cats are far less likely to need (or want) a bath than dogs, though of course you can use any of the below shampoos for kitties too.
Important to keep in mind is that the pH of dog’s skin is more alkaline than humans, at between 6.2 - 7.5. Never use human shampoo on your dogs, as it is often made more acidic to suit our skin type, plus it may contain ingredients toxic to animals. Dog’s skin is also thinner than ours: their epidermis (the outermost layer) is only 3-5 layers thick, while ours is 10-15 layers thick. Cats have even thinner skin. Animals are therefore much more sensitive than us.
As discussed in The Natural Pet P1, most herbs are nontoxic to pets, and can be greatly beneficial. Make a herbal infusion to substitute for the water in any shampoo recipe. The gentle dilutions are perfectly safe for pets.
Nettle - great for irritated skin
Marshmallow - for dry, itchy skin
Chamomile - a lovely, soothing addition to any shampoo or rinse
Neem - conditioning and helps with hot spots and insects
Calendula flowers - soothing and treats infections
Yarrow - for itching and irritations. It can also be used as a fly and insect repellent.
Rosemary - conditioning, adds shine and repels fleas and insects
How to make:
Use about a teaspoon per cup of liquid. So if you want to make 1 litre, use 4 teaspoons of herb. Pour boiling water over the herb then leave to cool and infuse. Once cooled, strain out the herbs and it will be ready to add to your shampoo or rinse.
A spoon of a conditioning oil such as coconut, hemp, argan or neem may also be added to any shampoo.
When shampooing up your pet, be sure to avoid the eyes and sensitive areas. Alway rinse well so your pet can’t lick any residue off.
½ c oatmeal - great for soothing (it's really nice in a facemask too), exfoliating and leaves skin soft
½ c warm water or substitute for a herbal infusion
1 c castile soap
Mix everything together and pour into a bottle. Use as needed, lather up and rinse well.
1 L water or substitute for a herbal infusion
1 cup castile soap
1 cup apple cider vinegar - gives fur great shine and balances out the alkaline castile soap to make it more neutral.
⅓ c glycerine
A squeeze of honey (optional)
2 T aloe vera gel (or use the crystals or powder to make your own gel)
Mix everything together in a spray bottle. Spray onto wet fur and work in with your hands, then rinse well.
Your doggy will smell great, but fleas will flee! This shampoo is also naturally antiseptic and antibacterial.
295ml water or substitute for a herbal infusion
2 T castile soap
2 drops lavender
Mix everything together in a spray bottle. The essential oils are diluted in enough water that they shouldn’t irritate your dog. To use the shampoo, wet your dog’s fur well, then spray on the shampoo and work it in with your hands. Rinse well.
A rinse post-shampoo is often a good idea for dogs. You can make a rinse out of a herbal infusion and add a few drops of essential oils for problem skin, odours or fleas. Or try this rosemary conditioning rinse below, which contains no essential oils but is fantastic for fur, just as rosemary is great for our hair.
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups hot water
Make a rosemary infusion and add in any extras if you wish. Pour into a spray bottle and spray onto your dog’s freshly-shampooed fur, working in with your hands. This rinse can be left in to dry. Bonus: rosemary may help repel fleas and insects.
We are confident your pet will love these natural and planet-friendly shampoos. Feel free to let us know how you find them!
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