You can wash your dog with commercial products designed specifically for dogs. Natural ingredients like vinegar, oatmeal and various herbs are also good.
Some human soap can be used, but they have to be natural so as not to strip your dog’s skin of their oils. They are very sensitive to chemicals.
Some dogs hate being washed. They will do all they can to avoid letting you bathe them, including running away. It could be they don’t like the water, ‘the shampoo, or they don’t want you to wash away their scent.
Other dogs love a bath. They get excited when they know they’re about to get washed.
Many dog owners want to know what they can use to wash their dog with. They may prefer to use a natural product, or they might want to create their own shampoo at home. Some owners find commercial dog shampoo too expensive, but still want to give their dog a bath regularly, so I’ll explain some of the alternatives to store-bought dog shampoo.
Homemade Natural Alternative Dog Shampoos Are Easy
There are some natural ingredients commonly found at home that you can use. Like humans, some dogs are sensitive to different ingredients, so be careful, and seek advice from your vet if necessary.
Some natural ingredients you could consider using to wash your dog are:
- White vinegar: Mix a little dish soap with the antibacterial power of white vinegar. Be careful as white vinegar is acidic, so avoid contact with your dog’s eyes. Use an organic or natural dish soap that doesn’t contain artificial scents and additives.
- Oatmeal: A lot of store-bought dog shampoos contain oatmeal, but they can be pricey. You can make your own, effective oatmeal shampoo also containing baking soda and water. This is great for dry itchy skin.
- Essential oils: Add essential oils to your homemade shampoo for their antibacterial properties and flea killing power. Lavender and peppermint are useful and make your dog smell as if they’ve been to the groomer. Be careful though. Some essential oils like tea tree and pennyroyal can be harmful.
- Rosemary: This is a simple recipe using a sprig of rosemary and water. Add mild baby soap and coconut oil to make a moisturizing shampoo.
- Vanilla: Use skin safe vanilla oil, along with baking soda and corn starch. This is an easy dry shampoo powder you use in between wet baths. Sprinkle on your dog’s coat and brush off after a few minutes.
Make small amounts of homemade shampoo. You’re using fresh ingredients without preservatives and chemicals, so they won’t last a long time.
Some Soaps Are Okay For Washing a Dog
Sometimes you just have to wash your dog, especially if they have rolled in something smelly, or been sprayed by a skunk. If you run out of your usual dog shampoo, some soaps are okay to use.
A lot of soaps produced for humans have chemicals and cause skin to dry out. For your dog, choose an olive oil based soap. Look for one with a pH of around 7.
Most human shampoos are too acidic for dogs. This is because humans need a more acidic product, and dogs need a more alkaline product. Human shampoos dry dog’s skin too much and can strip away their natural oils.
Eventually, this may make your dog more susceptible to parasites and skin infections.
There was a time when some people thought it was okay to use dish soap to wash a dog. Experts now say this is not correct.
Dish soap is designed to strip grease and oil from your dishes. It will do the same to your dog’s skin, and cause skin infections and other issues.
Water on Its Own Won’t Clean Your Dog
You can just use water to wash your dog, but it’s not very effective. It will wash some of the surface dirt off, butwon’t wash away odor or deep clean their coat.
You could use a mixture of 95% water and 5% apple cider vinegar though. The vinegar is a natural disinfectant and will even balance out the pH of their skin. This combination is good for dogs with itchy skin that gets aggravated by store-bought dog shampoo.
Homemade Flea and Tick Shampoo is Easy and Effective
Sometimes you want to wash your dog to treat for fleas and ticks. Homemade remedies can be effective and easy on your dog’s coat.
You can make up an aloe vera based treatment that is gentle on your dog, but harsh on the fleas and ticks.
Mix 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel into a quart of water. Add a cup of water and a cup of non-toxic dish soap. Use a spray bottle to apply to your dog’s coat and rinse off.
Make sure you only use aloe vera topically. Ingesting it can make a dog sick.
Last Choices Are Castile Soaps, Glycerine and Pine Tar
There are some other options suitable for your dog. Be careful though, because they should only be used if you don’t have any specific dog shampoo, or the natural ingredients I’ve already covered are unavailable.
- Castile Soaps: These are made with olive oil or almond. They are surfactant free, which means they don’t have the nasty chemicals that are found in detergents.
They rinse the suds away without washing your dog’s natural oils away as well. Most castile soaps have to be diluted before using, so check the label carefully before you use them. Many are scented, but are non-toxic.
- Glycerine: These are usually normal solid, translucent bars and are scented or unscented. The ones made from animal fats or plants are best. The synthetic ones can contain some nasty chemicals, so always check the label.
They are usually scented with plant based, dog friendly oils. Like castile soap, glycerine doesn’t strip your dog’s skin oils away when you wash it off.
- Pine Tar: This is a rather strong smelling option, but it’s good for your dog’s skin if they have problems that don’t respond well to medical treatment for skin conditions. Pine Tar is often hand made into soap bars.
Some groomers recommend pine tar for dogs who have hot spots on their skin, causing rashes and other irritating conditions. There are some pine tar varieties that are specially made for dog washing.
Secure Your Soap Away, so Your Dog Doesn’t Eat It
Although soaps are non-toxic for topical usage, they may be problematic if your dog manages to eat some.
If your dog licks a bit of soap, or nibbles on a small amount, there probably won’t be an issue. If they ate a bar of it, there are some precautions you should take.
Some of the fragrances and oils used in dog soaps are harmful if ingested, but perfectly fine for washing skin. Pine oil is a classic example. It’s effective as a washing agent, not to eat, as it can be toxic, burn their esophagus, or even cause a blockage.
Look out for these signs if you think your dog ate soap.
- Drooling: Most dogs drool to a certain extent, but you may see an increased volume if they have eaten soap.
- Frequent Swallowing: This could be because of the taste, there is some stuck in their throat, or they have a burning sensation in their throat or mouth.
- Licking more than normal: Your dog may think there is something on their skin that needs washing off, or they are trying to stop the irritation in their mouth, throat, or stomach.
- Pawing at their face: This may be a sign there is something stuck in their mouth or throat. It could also be their reaction to a burning sensation.
- Vomiting or Diarrhea: Both of these are concerning because it means the soap has made its way through their system and is reacting negatively.
In any case, if you think your dog has eaten soap, ring your vet for advice. They may ask you to bring them in for a check up, or give you monitoring instructions.
If the vet asks you to bring your dog in, make sure you take the remaining soap if there is any, and the packet with the ingredients list.
Dogs need to be bathed, just like us. If your dog doesn’t like getting a bath, it may be because they don’t like the soap or treatment you use.
There are a huge amount of options for washing your dog;you just need to make sure you don’t use anything toxic, or designed for the pH of human skin. Your dog’s pH is very different to yours, and their oils are easily washed off.
Dog washing options are commercial soaps designed specifically for dogs, natural ingredients found around your home, or some human soaps suitable for a dog’s skin.
Whatever option you choose, enjoy the bonding time with your doggy pal.
Writer: Craig Taylor