DIY Natural Dog Shampoo for the Sensitive Pup
Updated: Feb 6, 2022
For most of my childhood we had a family dog. My parents, wanting to raise independent and responsible offspring, gave us the responsibility of pet care. We fed them and bathed them and did the illustrious yard clean up. So when we (Hubs, Halfsquat, Quartersquat, and I) bought our first house last year, and the time felt right, it was a no-brainer to me. We’d get a dog. Shockingly, Hubs was on board. Yes!
We drove 3 hours into Iowa to a shelter called Animal Welfare Friends who had pre-approved us to adopt. There was a female poodle-mix puppy that we were excited to meet. Hubs has allergies and we thought a poodle mix would be less likely to exacerbate them.
When we got to the shelter, we were ushered into a small room with windows and the tiny poodle-mix puppy was brought in. Free-range cats wandered the lobby, looking in the window as we tried to get to know our future pup. Friends, this puppy was tiny but she was mighty! She came in hot, jumping and biting at everything. She scared Halfsquat as I held tightly to Quartersquat. This pup tried to eat the shoes from Hubs’s feet the entire 15 minutes we spent with her. We wanted it to be a good fit. We really wanted a rescue poodle… But it wasn’t right. Hubs and I both knew it but I said it out loud. “Let’s just meet some other dogs.”
So we did.
We read about all the dogs in the shelter as we walked by each one hoping to feel a spark. Then we went outside where 3 brothers, two black and one brown, labeled as Great Dane/Lab mixes were playing rambunctiously, wrestling, and biting each others’ ears. These puppies were the same age as Poodle McShoeChewer but significantly bigger. We watched them play for a bit and then I asked to go into the pen with them. They were SO EXCITED to have a visitor! The two black ones jumped on me wildly and the brown one jumped with slightly less energy - almost as if he was only doing it because his brothers were jumping first. I wanted to get him alone.
Back in the room of windows where the cats stared, silently judging us, we prepared to meet the brown Labradane. They brought him in and he sniffed Halfsquat. She was nervous but not scared. This was a good sign. I passed Quartersquat to Hubs and I got down on the floor. This puppy was so sweet and affectionate! I felt the spark. Hubs agreed. Halfsquat admitted that she had been “really hoping for a cat.” We shut the cat discussion down quickly and Hubs went to tell the volunteers that we had found our dog.
We had not set out to get a big dog, folks, but the heart wants what it wants.
Introducing: Ludo Pluto Davis
(Halfsquat insisted on the middle name.)
Ludo rode the whole 3 hours home on my lap as Hubs and I speculated about how big he might actually get. We talked about putting up a fence in our yard for him and about doing a doggy DNA test to find out OFFICIALLY what his ancestry is in order to make a more educated guess about his size.
Let’s fast forward a bit.
Ludo gets settled.
Ludo gets groomed.
Ludo gets potty trained.
Ludo gets crate trained.
Ludo gets groomed.
Ludo gets worms.
Ludo sees the vet.
Ludo gets groomed.
Ludo gets seasonal allergies.
Ludo gets Super-chewer status. (BarkBox has a solution for that and you better bet we got on board!) Here is another great resource for finding the right indestructible toy for your super chewer: https://yourdogadvisor.com/indestructible-dog-toys/
Ludo gets groomed.
Ludo starts obedience training.
Ludo’s DNA test results come in.
Ludo gets groomed.
Ludo Pluto Davis is 50% Weimaraner (explains those big soft floppy ears) and the other 50% is a pretty even mix of things. So he will get big but not quite as big as we thought.
Okay, what’s this story even about? Oh yeah. Did you all know how much it costs to get a dog groomed? And guess what? The bigger the dog, the bigger the money.
So here I am today. With this doofus of a dog (I say this with a heart full of love) who has seasonal allergies causing an itchy skin rash and who really needs a bath because grooming is EXPENSIVE so it’s become less of a priority. <— Unnecessarily long sentence. Did you know Bull Dog mixes are notorious for having allergic skin reactions? I did not know but I do now.
I’m not internally motivated (see ADHD) so it took a pending visit from my sisters to get my rear into gear and decide to wash the stink off my dog. Am I a planner? No. I did not have organic, moisturizing, essential oil infused dog shampoo on hand. I had, in fact, never intended to wash my own dog. (Pet parents are laughing at me right now.) And so, I found myself scouring Pinterest for a natural dog shampoo recipe that I could make with ingredients I had on hand and with minimal effort.
I found some recurrent ingredients as I read recipe after recipe and researched each one.
According to sitstay.com, coconut oil
“• Clears up eczema • Aids flea allergies, contact dermatitis and itchy skin • Minimizes doggy odor • Reduces allergic reactions • Creates sleek and glossy coats • Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections • When applied topically coconut oil promotes wound healing • Also can help with hot spots, dry skin and hair, bites and stings”
According to cleanerpaws.com, “Rosemary can help the dog’s body fight off several types of fungi and bacteria. Because of its antimicrobial properties, rosemary is used in many antibacterial skin or eye rinse solutions. It also helps with minor cuts and burns and in urinary and gastrointestinal infections.”
According to wagwalking.com, “Baking soda is so mild it can be used directly on your dog both for cleaning and deodorizing purposes.”
According to Natural-dog-health-remedies.com, lavender “Treats minor boo-boos, helps skin healing, disinfects bacterial infections, relieves itchy, yeasty paws, soothes achy tummy, reduces stress and anxiety, [and] boosts [the] immune system.”
According to DognitionPost.com, “Baby shampoo is the only safe alternative where human shampoo is concerned, unless you use a shampoo specifically formulated for dogs… Baby shampoos are formulated and designed for sensitive skin and are made to be a very mild shampoo.” (Still, I wanted to dilute this and create something more gentle for my sensitive Ludo.)
Then I started writing my own recipe, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. (This is my cooking MO as well.)
- Organic Cold-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil
- Warm Water
I washed my own hands with it to make sure it wasn’t too drying or too greasy and SUCCESS!
What was less successful, was convincing Ludo to get in the bathtub. He wanted nothing to do with it and after coaxing him with peanut butter, in a suction bowl, on the shower wall, I was able to get his front half under the shower head. So I scooped out some dog shampoo from my jar and I washed the front half of my dog. I honestly don’t remember how I managed to get his back half into the tub but it did happen and Ludo was clean for my sister’s’ visit.
Look at that clean, handsome boy!
During my deep Pinterest scouring, I learned that letting your dog dry naturally encourages growth of yeast and bacteria so I trapped Ludo in our tiny bathroom and chased him around with my hair dryer.
Do I consider this a success? Yes.
Do I want to do it again? No.
I actually ended up really hurting my back in the process and then promptly threw it out the next day requiring lots of ice and muscle relaxers . I’ll tell you all about my recurrent back issues another time.
Anyway, here’s my dog shampoo recipe (I’ve also used this as face wash in a bind and was not disappointed.)
Stay tuned for a doggie dry shampoo recipe because I’m not planning to wrestle my pupper into the tub, again, anytime soon!