Updated: Sep 6
Natural Shampoo vs Chemical Shampoos - What you need to know about their ingredients, and as it seems these days not everything is easy when making informed choices about the best Shampoo for your dog!
I was reaching for my shampoo this morning in the shower. My brand of choice promises to contain ‘herbal essences’ (amongst other natural things) that will make my hair healthy, shiny and well, simply smell great. And because I love pretty packaging this shampoo and conditioner set are a gorgeous strawberry colour - Strawberry and Mint formulas, no surprise there!
I picked up the bottle and caught sight of the teeny-tiny ingredient list and squinted at it but could see nothing but blur! I must be getting old my eyesight is going downhill, so decided to actually read the bottle with my specs on after my shower.
I always read labels when it comes to food for my human and dog family members, but for some reason had never bothered to actually read what’s in my ‘All Natural Botanical’ shampoo. Skim this list, I think you’ll get the idea that none of them seem ‘natural!...
Ingredients (skim this bit)
Water Sodium Laureth Sulfate Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Sodium Chloride Cocamidopropyl Betaine Fragaria Chiloensis (Strawberry) Fruit Extract Histidine Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Ecklonia Radiata Extract Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil Mentha Arvensis Leaf Oil Menthol Fragrance Sodium Citrate Citric Acid Sodium Xylenesulfonate Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose Butylene Glycol Alcohol Denat. Tetrasodium EDTA Sodium Benzoate Methylchloroisothiazolinone Methylisothiazolinone
It’s a minefield out there! Everywhere we look products are claiming to be all natural, containing quality REAL ingredients with health benefits that literally are screaming at you to buy them to make your life better and enable you to live your healthiest lives.
Rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, chances are you should avoid it. Many dog shampoos have “natural” in the name, and when you turn the bottle around, you see “methylchloroisothiazolinone” in the ingredient list. Yes, that’s actually the name of a harmful preservative that’s commonly found in dog shampoo. For the ones that aren’t as easy to tell, we’re going to set the record straight. Let’s talk about which ingredients to avoid, and what to look for in dog shampoos. Let’s start with the ones found at the vets.
When should you reach for medicated dog Shampoos?
Pretty much every Vet practice has a wall of products in their waiting rooms, & guaranteed you will always find 2 brands of Shampoo on the shelf. They have been in Vt practices for years, and having worked in a surgery myself I can say the Reps for the company that produces these 2 products are very regular visitors, and restock with enthusiasm!
One claims to be a gentle, soap free Oatmeal and Aloe Vera formula.
Then my research has lead me down a rabbit hole (again!) Interestingly, at the time of writing this there are NO INGREDIENTS LISTED on the bottle other than ‘20g/L Oatmeal Extract also contains Aloe Vera’. I visited the company website and downloaded the PDF document about this product. Again, NO INGREDIENTS LISTED on this document.
I then downloaded the Safety Data Sheet Australian Poisons Information report; a legal document - not housed on their website BTW ;(
Have a look at the snippit below of the report on this product. Note there are NO INGREDIENTS LISTED as required on the back of my Human Strawberry smelling shampoo! I think this is another example of different rules for human products and animal products. How are we supposed to make informed choices?!
WHTF!! Pardon my Acronym French.... Have a look at its CHEMICAL CLASSIFICATION.....
The other Shampoo you will find on the Vet’s shelf is a Medicated Shampoo
The website states: X Medicated Shampoo is an antibacterial and antifungal medicated shampoo for dogs and cats.
It is indicated for the treatment of seborrhoeic dermatitis associated with bacteria (Staphylococcus pseudintermedius) and yeast (Malassezia pachydermatis) and is an aid in the treatment of ringworm (dermatophytosis) infections in pets.
Again the ONLY ingredients listed are:
20 g/L Chlorhexidine gluconate
20 g/L Miconazole nitrate
A LOT of people use this shampoo under the belief it will cure the itchy scratchy behaviours some dogs display. And they use it regularly. This is a very strong pesticide and it’s designed to kill off bacteria & organic pests. Great, it does this job, but a nasty side effect is the dogs skin microbiome (second largest only to the gut microbiome) is completely destroyed. It’s a dangerous shampoo to use regularly as it will literally leave your dog ‘naked and vulnerable’ to any other irritant or substance their skin comes in contact with. Kills off one thing, kills of everything!
Not to mention the simple fact that is absorbed through the skin into your dogs body. If you need to treat a dog with chronic skin conditions then this will do the job - but use with caution!
Can you use Natural Human Shampoos on Dogs?
Short answer is no. Their Skin is different to ours. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 considered “neutral.” The numbers below 7 are acidic, while above 7 are considered alkaline or non-acidic.
Human skin ranges from 4.5 to 6pH: More Acidic.
Dogs skin ranges from 7 to 8.5pH: More Alkaline.
If you use Shampoos designed for Human skin & hair you will strip the dogs skin of all it’s natural oils. These oils form part of the dogs self defense system - it’s literally a protective barrier against all environmental factors from fluoride in our water to chemicals in our homes.
Ingredients To Avoid when looking for natural dog shampoo in Australia
Common preservatives that are found in cosmetic products and dog shampoos. They are synthetic chemicals and are often used because they’re cheap. Recent studies are showing that parabens have the potential to be cancer-causing and can irritate your dog’s skin. Avoid products that have any of these names in the ingredient list: methyl, benzyl, propyl, and ethyl.
A preservative that is commonly found in cosmetics and hair products for both humans and pets. Can irritate your skin and eyes upon contact, avoid using it on your dog and yourself.
Phthalates are commonly used as “plasticizers”, something found in plastic to give it flexibility, transparency, and durability. Not something you want to use on your skin, but unfortunately, it’s often in your household cosmetics.
This ingredient has been linked to organ toxicity, dry skin, and irritation. It can be incredibly harsh on your dog’s skin. Avoid this one at all costs.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEGS)
Contains high levels of carcinogens due to its production process. It’s common to find in dog conditioners, especially those that are creamy. They are likely to cause skin irritation on your dog.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS gives a dog shampoo its sudsy, bubbly qualities and is effective for removing oil and dirt. However, it will also strip your dog’s skin and coat of natural oils and cause irritation, itchiness, and dryness. If your dog is prone to damaged skin, stay far away from this one.
This ingredient is derived from coconuts, which are great for your skin. But cocamide DEA is chemically altered during the extraction process. It may cause irritation or an allergic reaction for your dog. Over the years it’s been used less, but there are still dog shampoos that contain it. Avoid any ingredients that have DEA, MEA, or TEA in the name, they are all considered carcinogens.
Artificial Colouring and Fragrances
These can potentially cause organ damage, cancer, and allergic reactions. When picking a dog shampoo, we need to pay extra attention to scent because our canine friends’ sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than ours. The word “fragrance” can be covering up chemicals that companies do not want you to know about. Artificial fragrances can lead to compromised immune function, allergic reactions and neurotoxicity. Often dog shampoos that claim to be herbal come with a lovely green tint. Puree of leaf? Um, no. Try artificial colors. Examples of these colors are D&C, FD&C, or Yellow 5.Cocomide DEA or MEA.
This gives the skin a nice layer of protection, however, it also stops the skin from naturally producing oils. It has a good intention behind it, but it actually has a negative effect on the skin.
ETHYLENEDIAMINE TETRAACETIC ACID (EDTA)
The name says it all... steer clear of EDTA, it contains metals that are known to be toxic for your dog.
WHY ARE THESE INGREDIENTS IN PET SHAMPOOs?
The reason these harmful chemicals are often used in cosmetics & shampoos & conditioners is to reduce the cost of production and increase profits. Cutting corners, at its finest! Now that you know what the ingredients are and the dangers of using them, try to avoid them when purchasing products for your dog.
Now that we’ve got the nasty stuff out of the way, let’s lighten the mood and end on a high note. Here are the ingredients that you DO want to see on a shampoo’s ingredient list.
Ingredients To Look For in NATURAL DOG SHAMPOOS & CONDITIONERS
Goat’s milk is great for skin health because it has multiple advantages. It’s naturally cleansing, It eliminates debris, oil, and dead skin cells from the skin gently and without the use of harsh chemicals or additions. Balances skin. Because goat’s milk has a pH similar to that of the skin, it is less irritating and gentler for the skin than many other products. Brightens skin tone: Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that serves as a mild exfoliant and helps slough off the top layer of dead skin cells.
All skin types can use it but sensitive skin types are likely to benefit most since chamomile extract soothes the skin.
Helps the skin maintain hydration and minimizes damage from free radicals. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, avocado oil sooths and heals eczema, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, or psoriasis.
This is especially good if your dog has a skin condition. It’s incredibly hydrating and great to use if your dog has dry skin.
Great for adding moisture, nourishment, and natural cleansing power. Coconut oil contains vitamin E, which works as an antioxidant to protect your skin cells from damage.
Has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, to reduce irritation, redness, and swelling. It is also Antibacterial and helps kill systemic bacterial inflammation for calm, clear skin.
Check out our Beautiful NATURAL SHAMPOOS AND CONDITIONERS for your Dog. We promise everything we do is real and we are transparent!
So in Summary:
If you can not pronounce it- avoid it!
If it’s listed as capital letters (accronyms) - avoid it!
If you must resort to a Chemical Pesticide Medicated wash to treat a bacterial problem - minimize the number of times you use it!
Always read your labels and choose a transparent Natural Dog Shampoo. One that lists EVERYTHING in the bottle!
Never use Human Shampoos - they are the wrong PH!