dangers of dog shampoos
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The Dangers of Dog Shampoos

Dog shampoo can actually harm your dog, make him or her sick, or worse. There are serious dangers of dog shampoos, so Fidose of Reality investigates. As diligent dog parents, we pay attention and read ingredients on the food and treats our dogs consume, but how often do we read (and understand) the ingredients in dog shampoo?

Some dog shampoos can be downright hazardous, contain irritating or otherwise harmful ingredients.

Fact: Not all dog shampoos are created equal and moreover, many of them could actually do serious damage to a dog’s skin and internal organs. Here’s the scoop:

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dangers of dog shampoos

The Dangers of Dog Shampoos

Here’s what to avoid in dog shampoos:

Rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t be lathering Fido in it. The same holds true, in my household, for pet food and treat ingredients.

  • Biodegradable shampoos indicate that your soap residue is not going to harm the water supply or Rover’s fresh coat.
  • Dog shampoos that are pH balanced are more in tune with the natural balance of acid in a dog’s skin.
  • Keep human shampoos away from dogs, as these contain chemicals that are too harsh for a pooch’s delicate skin. Human shampoos tend to irritate and dry out a dog’s skin.
  • Does your dog see a groomer? Avoid harming your dog by asking the groomer what shampoo he or she is using, be sure you know what ingredients it contains, and run it by your dog’s vet for a double check.

Flip it around. I ignore the front of boxes, cans, bottles, and sprays. Instead, I flip the product around and read the ingredients first. The fluffy white dog on the bottle of shampoo does not necessarily mean my dog needs to lather in this stuff. You should know what is going on the coat and potentially into Fido’s bloodstream.

Pet shampoos can also have harmful side effects on people. Phytosphingosine is blamed for triggering one woman’s asthma attack, which was so severe the woman died. She was bathing her dog and did not know about the ingredient. The FDA had issued a warning about phytosphingosine on its website.

dog getting bath
Ahh that’s the spot, Mom.

What You Want in a Dog Shampoo

Natural, non-toxic ingredients: Look for things like filtered water and natural meaning you know what the ingredient is and it is not mixed with potentially harmful other ingredients. The latter is a sad state of affairs that some dog shampoos try to market to pet parents.

Avoid any dog shampoos that contain: Sulfates, parabens, phosphates, DEA, perfumes, or synthetic dyes. You want a shampoo that is cruelty free. This is something we look for in a dog shampoo and a dog conditioner.

“When choosing a general shampoo for your pets, it’s important that you select an option that is appropriate for your canine or feline companion over those created for humans,” says Patrick Mahaney, VMD/CVA. “Be especially cautious in choosing a shampoo for your cat, as they are extremely sensitive to the toxic effects of essential oils — tea tree oil, etc.”

Worried about fleas and ticks? Using a gentle shampoo with a citrus base such as orange or lemon acts as a good flea deterrent. Peppermint oil, too, when safely diluted with water, acts as a great in-home spray for areas where insects might enter, like doors and windows.

Dog Shampoos We Feel Safe Using

While at a conference in May, we discovered the new Only Natural Pet line of dog shampoos, conditioners, and grooming products.  Here is our selection of Only Natural Pet products we use, recommend, and present for your consideration:

Basic Cleaning Dog Shampoo

Only Natural Pet Pure & Clean Gentle Grooming is an all-natural, complete approach to your dog’s grooming needs. Made with an all-natural blend of plant-based ingredients and essential botanical oils formulated to naturally cleanse and nourish your pet’s fur and skin. Each formula is pH balanced specifically for your dog. This is the first product we tried in the line.

Only Natural Pet dog shampoo

Each formula is pH balanced specifically for your dog. tear free, and soap free, meaning is won’t interfere with flea & tick treatments. We already use the Only Natural Pet Flea and Tick preventatives, so this worked famously for us.

We followed up with the Pure and Clean Gentle Conditioner, and here’s the real deal of our experience video. We like conditioner because it gives an extra softness and sheen to the coat, and I love that oh-so-cuddly feeling of my dog’s fur:

Shampoo for Itchy Dogs

Imagine being itchy all the time, or at least some of the time. If it does not sound fun, it’s because it’s not. Once you’ve determined what is making your dog itchy, the here’s a dog shampoo that is formulated to cleanse and nourish dry, itchy skin.  From the folks at Only Natural Pet, this is the best shampoo for dogs with itchy skin, dry skin, allergies, skin irritation and excessive itching.

Pure & Clean Itch Relief Shampoo

And if you want the conditioner, it comes as a dog shampoo and conditioner all in one:  Pure & Clean Shampoo and Conditioner 2-in-1

dog grooming spray

In Between Shampooing

If your dog is anything like mine, there are times when he or she needs some freshening up, but you are short on time or just don’t feel like giving a full bath.  The Pure & Clean Grooming Spray comes in handy for in between shampoo times. You simply spray it on the dog’s coat, rub through and you are done. The scent is light, not perfume smelling, and is comprised of green tea and mandarin orange.

Dog shampoo line

El Stinko Doggo: What Did You Roll In?

If your dog decides to bring the scents of nature indoors, ala rolling in poo, getting skunked, etc., the Only Natural Pet Pure & Clean Deodorizing Shampoo & Spray is specially formulated with zinc, a proven odor neutralizer that works on everything from normal dog smell to “what did you roll in?!”

After the zinc neutralizes offending odors, Pure & Clean Deodorizing Shampoo & Spray will keep your dog smelling fresh and pleasant with their complimentary blend of invigorating eucalyptus and herbaceous rosemary. These essential oils continue working well after bath time and recharging is simple with a quick spritz from the spray! Sweet!

Flea and tick shampoo

Flea Preventative Dog Shampoo

Of course, sometimes you just want that extra protection. I happen to rotate dog shampoos just like I rotate the protein in my dog’s diet. Why? I like variety and like humans, dogs are exposed to many different situations in life.

EasyDefense Flea & Tick Shampoo contains a balanced blend of flea & tick preventing geraniol and peppermint oil that combine to give your dog the best flea & tick shampoo available. Unlike conventional flea & tick shampoos that use toxic chemicals and synthetic pesticides that can be dangerous for your pet, EasyDefense Flea & Tick Shampoo contains no harsh chemicals, DEET, or pyrethrins. The formula is suited for dogs of all ages.

Compared to chemical options, natural is the safest, most effective way to prevent biting insects from attacking your dog.

Dog Shampoo Shopping List

To review, here’s a listing of dog shampoos we use and recommend from Only Natural Pet:

Basic Cleaning: Only Natural Pet Pure & Clean Gentle Grooming and  Pure and Clean Gentle Conditioner

Itchy Dogs: Pure & Clean Itch Relief Shampoo

In Between Shampooing Spray: Pure & Clean Grooming Spray

Very Stinky Dog: Only Natural Pet Pure & Clean Deodorizing Shampoo & Spray

Flea and Tick Preventative: EasyDefense Flea & Tick Shampoo 

Bark Back

What are you using to bathe your dog? Do you know what shampoo your groomer uses? Has this ever crossed your mind before? Weigh in, we’re up to our ears in lather!

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  1. Such an important topic. It’s imperative pet parents are made aware of these dangers, and I’m so happy to see you bring this topic to the forefront, Carol Bryant.

  2. Thank you so much for this most important information. The health and well being for our precious pets is so important. I loved the list.

  3. Amazing! I wasn’t aware that shampoo could have such dangerous affect on our faithful canine companions in such a manner. Glad I came across this very insightful information!

  4. Thank you for sharing this information. I like your sentiment that “if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t bath in it”. That definitely puts things I to perspective. I didn’t know dogs had specific conditioners. I have always heard that they can prevent natural oils from forming which can dry out coats. I’m glad there is a trusted one you found.

  5. Our doodle gets sick about 5 days after going to the groomer. I called and Our Groomer used ALOE DEEP Cleanse .

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