Ever wonder if the soap you are using on your dog is safe for them? So many soaps/shampoos are marketed as dog-friendly but contain harsh ingredients that could harm your pooch, making it hard to know who to trust. However, a simple way to know if it is safe or not is to take a glance at the ingredients list.
As a general rule, soap that is safe for dogs is fragrance-free, has no artificial colors, and doesn’t contain ingredients you can’t pronounce. There are quite a few more ingredients you should be wary of as well.
We can help you determine the best soap to use on your furry friend based on the ingredients list by giving you tips on what it should and should not include. Read on to find out some of our favorite soaps for dogs and to learn how to keep your dog safe during bath time.
Dog Soap Ingredients To Avoid
The painful truth is that most big brand dog shampoos contain ingredients harmful to your dog. This is not to say that all big brands are bad, but you need to be very cautious. Here is a list of ingredients that Should Not be in your dog’s shampoo.
- Added fragrances
- Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
- Artificial colors
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine
- Eucalyptus essential oils
- Formaldehyde Preservatives
- Isopropyl (SD-40)
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Mea/Cocomide Dea
- Mineral oil
- Paraben Preservatives (butylparaben, methylparaben, or propylparaben)
- Peppermint essential oils
- Propylene glycol
- Sodium Benzoate preservative
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (or any sulfates for that matter)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sweet Birch essential oil
- Tea Tree oil
- Wintergreen essential oil
- Ylang ylang
This very long list includes ingredients that are often found in dog shampoos but are either straight up toxic or cause unnecessary discomforts. Let’s take a deeper look at some of these ingredients to get a better understanding of why you should not be bathing your pet in them.
Artificial Fragrances and Dogs
You may want your dog to smell like flowers, but it could be harming them more than you think. Many artificial fragrances have been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, along with cancer. So, we highly suggest avoiding synthetic fragrances that do not come naturally from an ingredient.
Sulfates in Dog Shampoos
We listed a few sulfates to avoid, but you should avoid all sulfates in general. Sulfates are salts of sulfuric acid and are commonly used in cleansing agents. These chemicals can not only dry out your dog’s skin but also irritate their eyes. You want their soap to leave them moisturized and soft, not dry and itchy.
This is also why you should avoid sulfates in your own shampoos as well.
Artificial Colors in Dog Soap
What is so bad about buying a blue shampoo? Well, the artificial colors that turn that shampoo into a cool blue contain harsh chemicals that can do a number on your dog. These colors are synthesized from petroleum and are linked to birth defects, cancer, organ damage, and allergic reactions.
Essential Oils Are Generally Unsafe
Many essential oils are toxic for your dog if they are inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. We listed quite a few of the most known toxic essential oils, but you might benefit from avoiding them all together. If you find a soap that contains essential oils not on our list, we recommend looking up whether it is safe before allowing your dog to come in contact with it.
Mineral Oil in Dog Soap
Many people will tell you that mineral oil is good for your dog because it creates a protective barrier over the skin. However, this “protective barrier” keeps the dog’s skin from releasing its own natural oils to eliminate toxins. Mineral oil is also a possible allergy inducer and not all mineral oil has been cleansed of contaminants like complex hydrocarbons and benzene. So, we suggest avoiding it altogether.
Chemicals You Can’t Pronounce
If there is a chemical you can not pronounce, like Methylchloroisothiazolinone, it is probably not good for your dog. Methylchloroisothiazolinone is a known carcinogen that is banned in other countries but still finds its way into our dog shampoo. So, as a good rule of thumb, if you can not pronounce it, do not use it.
The only exemption to big words that might be hard to pronounce is sodium hydroxide. Soap can not be made without sodium hydroxide, which is not toxic to your dogs in soap form. You may find soaps that do not have that word in their ingredients, but rather the word “saponified,” which means sodium hydroxide was added to that ingredient.
Ingredients Your Dog Soap Should Contain
Now that we have talked about what to avoid; let’s take a look at what should be in your dog shampoo.
It is important to note that simplicity is best. Soaps with the least amount of ingredients are often the best choice. Keep this in mind when choosing your dog’s soap.
- Almond Oil
- Aloe Vera
- Goats Milk
- Kaolin Clay
- Olive Oil
- Raw Honey
- Sea Salt (in moderate amounts)
- Shea Butter
- Sunflower Oil
- Virgin Coconut Oil
- Vitamin E
As a much shorter ingredients list than what to avoid, this is a good representation of how your ingredients list should look. It should be short and filled with ingredients you know and can pronounce. Let’s take a deeper look into some of these ingredients and how they can benefit your dog.
Kaolin Clay In Dog Soap
Kaolin clay is a mineral used in many skin care products. For humans and pets, it boosts circulation while cleaning the skin. It allows for skin regeneration, making your pet’s coat softer and healthier.
Kaolin clay is also great for dogs’ stomachs and is used in many probiotics. Once ingested, it binds toxins to help remove them from your pet’s gut. So, it is no big deal if your pet ingests it, in fact, it can be quite helpful.
Olive Oil for Dog Skin
Besides being great for cooking, olive oil helps alleviate dry and itchy skin. It is rich in phytonutrients, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids, making it act as a deep moisturizer. As a result, it produces a sleeky shiny coat that will have your pet feeling wonderful in their own fur.
Sea Salt In Soap
Sea salt is an amazing ingredient to find in your dog’s soap. It has a wide range of benefits for your furry friend including:
- Calms irritated skin
- Decreases shedding
- Heals wounds, scars, and bruises faster
- Hydrates and softens skin
- Removes bacteria from the skin
- Thickens your pet’s coat
So, we highly recommend finding a soap that contains sea salt for your pet.
Sunflower Oil on Dogs
Sunflower oil is known to help keep a dog’s skin moisturized and at its best. However, it also promotes healthy immune function, energy, normal organ function, and heart health. It is also quite good to use on your dog’s paws in the winter to keep them from cracking from the cold.
Safe Dog Soap Recommendations
Honestly, most big brands you google will not be safe for your pup. We recommended looking into small businesses that offer simple, unscented soaps even if they are not directly marketed towards dogs.
Harvey’s favorite soaps are those made with goat milk. Most of the soaps we buy come from small businesses listed on Etsy that have super simple and safe ingredients. None of Harvey’s soaps are marketed towards dogs, but they are the safest options we can find.
Currently, we have been using Chesilhurst Farm soap and have found it makes Harvey super soft after baths. However, there are lots of other small businesses that also offer dog-safe soap.
I am sure there are more well-known brands that offer safe options, but we have not stumbled across them yet. This is why we strongly encourage googling “unscented, simple goat milk soap,” and checking the ingredients list before making a purchase. Your pup will thank you for it.
Keeping Your Dog Safe
There are many products out there that are advertised towards dogs but are not dog safe. This is not just in the world of soaps either. Many well-known dog food brands contain harmful ingredients like BHA (butylated hydroxy anisole ), which are known toxins to dogs. We highly recommend checking the ingredients list of everything you put on your dog or feed to them. If you are looking for safe ingredients to find in dog treats, you can check out our article on that here.
At the end of the day, you will find that many big brands do not have your dog’s best interests in mind. Not all of them are bad, but there are quite a few who knowingly put toxins in their dog products. We strongly encourage you to take the time to do your research on ingredients in everything you give your dog to help them live longer and healthier lives.