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.