How To Choose A Safe Shampoo For Your Dog

Written by Dogs Naturally Magazine on October 4, 2012. Posted in Featured Articles

Regular grooming can be an important part of keeping your dog healthy.  Regular brushing will help spread the natural oils throughout your dog’s coat.  Regular bathing will remove dead skin cells, excess sebum and will help control dust mites and allergens.  Bathing your dog once a month is a great idea.

Choosing a chemical-free shampoo is essential.  Reading the label is important because many products state they contain natural or organic ingredients but still contain toxic chemicals.  Here are some shampoo ingredients you’ll want to avoid:

  • Added dyes or colorants: synthetic color additives for cosmetics are linked to cancers and other serious health problems. Examples are D&C Blue No. 4, or D&C Yellow No. 8, CI 1940 (also called Tartrazine, which is strongly linked to allergic reactions, migraines, hyperactivity, and even tumors). Many are made from coal tar which is recognized as a carcinogen. Avoid brightly colored liquids: natural colors in chemical-free shampoos usually range from an opaque white to a light yellow.
  • Added fragrance or perfumes derived from chemicals. Artificial fragrances are linked to allergies, headaches, nausea, and other serious health problems. Use shampoos that contain organic essential oils.
  • Parabens are inexpensive and used by many cosmetic manufacturers as a preservative. Parabens mimic estrogen hormones and have been linked to breast cancer. Names include methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid (p-hydroxybenzoic acid), parahydroxybenzoate (p-hydroxybenzoate). Look for shampoos that use citrus seed extracts, and natural vitamins A, C, and E.
  • Mineral oil is a by-product of petroleum, derived from propylene glycol. It is one of the key ingredients in baby shampoo and baby oil. People use baby shampoo on their dogs, believing that if it is good for a baby it is good for their dog – but it is not even good for babies! It is often used in cosmetics and shampoos as an emollient. It can actually harm the skin and is linked to many other health issues, including liver abnormalities and kidney damage.
  • Stearalkonium chloride is used in shampoos and conditioners as an antimicrobial and surfactant. It creates skin and eye irritations and may cause hypertension and ill effects on the brain and organs.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate and sodium laurel sulfate are commonly used in cosmetic products as detergents. They can cause irritation to the mouth and upper digestive tract; may cause significant skin irritation especially if exposure is prolonged and/or repeated. Contact with eyes can cause severe irritation; if not washed out promptly, may permanently injure the tissue. Use products that are made with olive oil, coconut oil, and other natural fatty oils.
  • DEA, cocamide DEA, and lauramide DEA are used as foaming agents in shampoos. May cause cancer.


This list just gives you a snippet of information on harmful ingredients in dog shampoos. It also applies to the ingredient list on your own shampoo and personal skincare products. Don’t believe the marketing hype. Read and understand the labels and think for yourself.  The terms “natural” and “organic” really mean just that. Going back to nature will improve the health of our pets, ourselves, and our planet.

By Laura Boston

This article is an excerpt from the July 2012 issue of Dogs Naturally Magazine.