Dogs love rolling in all sorts of stuff, especially dead things or poo. If your dog lives in the house with you, this can be challenging to get the smells out, so dog shampoo is obviously the answer. But what are the things to look out for when choosing a dog shampoo that is safe for their skin?
We know that there are lots of harmful chemicals in skincare for humans and there’s a real drive to go back to basics and choose natural. Natural is better for us and better for our environment.
Harmful substances that can be found in some creams and lotions we’ve all used in the past, are endocrine disrupters, carcinogens and irritants. Many companies add ‘fillers’ that aren’t natural and are an irritant to the skin, just to make their product last longer.
So if you’re going with natural products for yourself, it goes without saying that we should take the same care with our pets.
Like humans, a dog’s skin is the largest organ and it accounts for 12-14% of his body weight. It acts as a protector from environment, gives a sense of touch, and regulates his temperature. Anything you put on his skin can be absorbed into his body, and by licking his fur and skin, any product residue could be ingested. (at least us humans don’t groom ourselves with our tongue so that danger for us is not a priority!)
A dog’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than humans and his fur coat also regulates his temperature but also protects it from UV and physical damage.
The pH of a dogs skin is also different to humans. Human skin is slightly acidic and normally around 5.5 whereas a dog’s skin is much closer to being neutral – like water. This is why you need to use natural products on your dog, as any chemicals can be an irritant. Over time an acidic product can strip away natural oils leaving dry skin and a dull coat.
So what should you look for in a dog shampoo?
Avoid products that have no ingredients listed. If they can’t share their list, then there is most likely an ingredient in there they are hiding. You are best to pick one that has a short list of ingredients of things you recognise.
The ingredients to avoid in a dog shampoo, are similar to the ingredients we would avoid in our own shampoo. Some examples are:
Fragrance or Parfum. Most of these are artificial and can include hundreds of undisclosed scent chemicals and ingredients including phthalates (endocrine disrupter). They have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, breathing difficulties and potential effects on breeding.
Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (SHMG) is a preservative used in many commercially available products, including shampoos, conditioners, soaps, moisturizers, body sprays, baby wipes, room sprays, cleaning agents, and pesticides. It is in a class of chemicals known as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Notably, members of this class have been associated with allergic contact dermatitis, possibly due to the agents themselves, the formaldehyde they release, or both. Studies on SHMG in animals have demonstrated potential for sensitization and dermatitis, and formaldehyde-allergic patients have been reported to improve when products containing SHMG are avoided. Patients and providers need to be aware of this preservative. (source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20233550/)
Sodium laureth sulphate. Sodium laureth sulfate (sometimes referred to as SLES) is used in cosmetics as a detergent and also to make products bubble and foam. It is common in shampoos, shower gels and facial cleansers. It is also found in household cleaning products, like dish soap. And it’s found in Dog Shampoos as well. It may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1.4-dioxane. Ethylene oxide is a known human carcinogen which can harm the nervous system. It’s been classified as a possible developmental toxicant and can interfere with human development. Naturally it would do the same to your pet. It’s an environmental hazard as it doesn’t easily degrade and can remain in the environment long after it’s rinsed down a drain. 1.4-dioxane can be removed during the manufacturing process by vacuum stripping, but ther eis no easy way for consumers to know whether products containing sodium laureth sulfate has undergone this process.
Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone. These can be hard to pronounce, but they can be even harder on the body. These common preservatives are found in many liquid personal care products, and have been linked to lung toxicity[, allergic reactions and possible neurotoxicity. The risk of irritation to skin eyes and lungs is considered high, and there are suggestions that it might be neurotoxic. It’s banned or highly restricted for use in human cosmetics in some countries.
What are the good ingredients to look for?
Natural ingredients like Vitamin E, Honey, or Manuka Oil. Oatmeal can be good for relieving itchy skin and hers like calendular can soothe irritations.
Essential Oils like Eucalptus, and Cedarwood are great for making your dog smell nice.
Vinegar as a natural deodoriser.
The most important are natural oils such as Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Joboba or Sunflower Oils. These are great for your dog skin and coat, and will not only keep them moisturised, but also condition them.
Great and Small has developed a Dog Shampoo with natural ingredients for your member of family. It’s so lovely we even have humans using it, although it’s definitely developed for dogs.
Our ingredients are:
Biodynamic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Vinegar and cedarwood and peppermint Essential Oils.
Our dog shampoo bar is safe to use and really conditions your pets coat. Providing your pet doesn’t roll in poo or dead animals, he’ll be gorgeous looking and smelling for nearly a week.
You can pick yours up here.
Most of us eat healthy home grown fruit and vegetables when we can, and avoid processed foods. We pride ourselves for eating well. Many of us only eat organic knowing there are no sprays or harmful substances on the food we eat – because it’s been drummed into us for ages, that we are what we eat. Many processed foods have additives that can be endocrine disrupters, carcinogens, and allergens.
But when it comes to our pets – do we do the same?
It’s very convenient to drop into the local supermarket, and pick up some prepackaged cat/dog food for our pets, however, it’s far healthier for our pets if we gave them food that would mimic what they would have in the wild. If you consider the diet of a wild dog, they prey on grazing animals. They eat the whole animal, including the abdominal contents which will have large quantities of vegetable matter consisting of grasses and herbs. So providing raw fresh food is best for our pets, although it is impractical to offer it in quite the same way as in the wild. Prolonged storage, including freezing and refrigeration, will reduce the nutritive value of the food.
If we extend this concept of the "wild" diet it is obvious that cooking is unneccessary. Unfortunately, the idea that cooking is necessary is a myth that persists, encouraged by conflicting opinion amongst veterinarians. However, it is well known that cooking decreases the digestibility (i.e. utilisation) of food by denaturing protein, destroying vitamins, and inactivating enzymes. It is also a major cause of halitosis (bad breath) and flatulence (farting). However, cooking has the advantage of reducing spoilage and therefore extending storage life, and it often improves palatability. There are occasions when cooking is useful. It is preferable to cook vegetables and grains as this renders them digestible and mimics the fermentation process which occurs in the multiple stomachs of the herbivore.
Pet food manufacturers often include ingredients to provide palatability by including chemical ingredients that enhance the taste. These are not always good for your pets, and once they get used to having this, it can be hard to switch brands of pet food. Another reason you should, as much as possible, provide a varied fresh diet. They also can contain all or some of the following additives: preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, extenders, humectants, and colourings.
Dogs use panting as a means of heat regulation and during the hot summer will lose a lot of water from the body through panting. On a comparative body weight basis they drink a lot more water than humans. Unfortunately our water is treated with chlorine and fluorine and I am sure this high intake of these chemicals affect the health of our animals. By collecting rainwater, allowing animals to drink from natural waterways (preferably running water), and filtering water through reverse osmosis or ion exchange machines, we can help overcome this pollution. Incidentally, the use of aluminium bowls for water or food may lead to excessive intake of aluminium. Stainless steel bowls are recommended.
How the body battles with this onslaught of chemicals and still remains reasonably healthy is surprising!
Meeting our pet’s nutritional requirements, but doing so with sub-standard quality and potentially toxic ingredients, can cause both short and long-term health consequences. For your pet’s sake, offer a diet of human-grade, whole-food-based ingredients early in life and minimize the consumption of dry and canned diets and treats.
What to look for in a dry/wet food:
Unless you have the time and motivation to prepare your own balanced diets you could be better off to use commercial foods and supplement these with raw brisket and household scraps.
You can economise by using household scraps (vegetable peelings, cores and left overs) and purchasing ingredients unsuitable for human consumption (bug-infested grain, damaged packets and butcher scraps). Don't use mouldy foods. Buying in bulk is often cheaper although consider the shelf life and possible deterioration of the quality over a long period of time. You can also save time by preparing large quantities which can be stored for a few days in the fridge. Using a pressure cooker (stainless steel) will reduce the cooking time and minimise the damage to the quality of the food.
The protein to energy ration should match the special requirements (growth, lactation, etc.).
Protein : energy (by volume)
75% : 25% - growth, late pregnancy, convalescence
50% : 50% - maintenance
40% : 60% - working
This is a simple guide only and should be discussed with your veterinarian. For simplicity I recommend rotation of the following menu, changing to the next when you have finished your store.
Raw chicken necks are a very easy meal or snack and balanced
Raw brisket provides meat, fat and bone – a complete meal. I suggest you remove the short piece of rib bone as it is too hard to chew
Fish is a healthy source of protein and is often included in commercial dog food as an alternative protein source. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may have health benefits such as decreasing inflammation, but also beneficial for skin and coat. Fish is also a good alternative for dogs with food allergies to more common ingredients, like chicken.
For a great recipe which is sufficient for a large dog.
425gm can mackerel
3 Cups cooked rice/potatoes/wholemeal bread
1-3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp yeast powder
1 tsp kelp powder
1.4 cup cooked liver (optional)
Add 1tsp Joint Flex before serving.
1 C chicken mince preferrably cooked
¼ C cooked mashed veges (pumpkin, kumara, peas, carrots, beans)
2 C cooked brown rice/potatoes/wholemeal bread ( 1C for pups)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil ¼ C cooked ox liver
2 tsp Joint Flex
Mix ingredients together. (Sufficient for large dog.)
1 C beef mince 1 C cooked veges
2 C cooked rice 1 C rolled oats
1 C rye flakes 3 raw eggs
1 tsp Joint flex
Mix all ingredients and store in fridge
Looking for an all-in-one solution for sore joint and arthritis? Joint Flex is an all natural supplement for your dog providing relief from arthritis symptoms, and is the perfect addition to any pet food.
JOINT FLEX provides a balanced blend of 17 nutrients to optimise normal physiological function for:
Dr. Chris Piper
Great & Small