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Why Natural Dog Shampoo is a Must for Your Pup

Pets have always been seen as part of the family. But a growing trend sees pet parents wanting to give their fur babies the same quality of care they provide for their human family members. What began with pet nutrition and healthcare has branched into all areas of pet care. Pet parents are more mindful of how the quality of products can impact the overall health and well-being of their furry kiddos. So it’s only natural that the same attention is now being paid to dog shampoo and other grooming products.

 

While this trend began prior to 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic helped to accelerate it. Suddenly pets played a larger role in the everyday lives of people forced to stay home. Not only that, but more people became pet parents as one in five U.S. households adopted pets during the first year of the pandemic.

 

What does the pandemic have to do with pet grooming? All that extra time with their pets helped to focus attention on grooming products in a few ways:

It strengthened the dog-human bond

Those forced to limit their social contact relied more on their pets for companionship. For many people stuck at home during lockdowns and quarantines, their dogs were the only company they had. With their loyal doggos as their constant companions, it’s no wonder that so many people began to feel closer to their pets. And with that closeness came an increased desire to take better care of them.

It increased pet humanization

It’s also no wonder that, deprived of human company, so many people started seeing their pets more as people -- short, needy, hairy people -- than as animals. After all, when you’re lonely and you need someone to talk to, pets are often the best listeners. They may not be able to talk back, but any devoted pet parent can tell you that they have other ways of communicating that demonstrates their intelligence and empathy. This humanization of pets also contributed to a desire to provide a human-level quality of pet care.

DIY grooming became necessary

Although many dog parents would have argued that dog groomers were essential businesses, governments thought otherwise. Most dog grooming services shut down during the pandemic. This left people on their own to bathe and groom their doggos. As such, they paid better attention to the ingredients in their dog shampoo and conditioner and opted for more natural grooming products that are better for their pets’ skin and fur as well as for the environment.

Potentially Harmful Ingredients in Dog Shampoo

Most standard dog shampoos contain ingredients that have been linked to potential dog skin and health issues. These include:

Sulfates

Ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate are detergents in shampoo that help clean and also help create the foaming effect of shampoo. But these ingredients cause skin and eye irritation and are potentially loaded with toxic contaminants that pollute the environment and can even cause damage to the brain and internal organs. And some chemicals used in the production of sulfates are known carcinogens.

Phthalates

Usually listed on ingredient lists as simply “fragrance,” phthalates are hormone disruptors that can damage the endocrine and reproductive systems.

Paraben preservatives

These go by a few different names, including butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. These chemicals disrupt the production of estrogen and have been linked to cancer and reproductive issues. Once absorbed, they’re stored in the body and accumulate over time.

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

While formaldehyde itself isn’t directly used in dog shampoo, some chemical preservatives, like Quaternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, can release formaldehyde over time. Formaldehyde is a gas that can cause allergic reactions that include burning, blistering and itchy, scaly skin. It has also been linked to cancer.

Isopropyl alcohol

Usually listed as SD Alcohol 40, this ingredient strips the skin and hair of natural oils. Even worse, it causes the skin to absorb the other ingredients — including the toxic ones  faster. 

The Evolution of Dog Shampoo

Thanks to recent human hair care and health trends, people have gotten more savvy about the effects these ingredients can have on human health, as well as on the environment. More natural alternatives that don’t contain these ingredients have grown more popular and more widely available. This trend has caught up with the pet grooming market as pet parents have begun scrutinizing the ingredient labels on their dogs’ shampoo and conditioner.

 

As those same pet parents began going out of their way to purchase healthier and more environmentally-friendly products for their pets, the pet grooming product industry as a whole has not caught on quite yet - but there are a few companies, such as Paw.com, who have stepped in to fill the void by making these products available.

dog closing eyes enjoying being washed in bathtub

Benefits of Natural Dog Shampoo

Here are just a few ways natural pet grooming products can benefit both you and your pet:

 

  • Healthier skin
  • Softer, more lustrous coat
  • Gentler on the eyes
  • Won’t strip natural oils
  • Safer to bathe more frequently -- no more stinky dog
  • Peace of mind

How to Choose Safe and Healthy Dog Shampoo

Follow these tips to choose dog grooming products that are safe for your pup’s health:

 

  • Read the ingredient labels and avoid the ingredients listed above.
  • Look for natural ingredients derived from plants and occurring in nature.
  • Choose sulfate-free formulas that won’t dry out skin or damage eyes

Shop for shampoos and conditioners that contain vitamins and natural oils and moisturizers that help hydrate skin.

FAQs

Can I use human shampoo on my dog?

It might be tempting to use your own natural or organic shampoo on your dog instead of purchasing an additional product for Fido. But no matter how well your own shampoo is made, you should never use human shampoo on your pup. Dog skin has a different pH level than human skin, and shampoo formulated for humans will cause irritation.

Can I use baby shampoo on my dog?

Although baby shampoo is formulated to be gentler than regular shampoo and avoid eye irritation, the pH balance is still matched to humans rather than dogs. You should always bathe your pup with shampoos and conditioners formulated just for them.

How often should I bathe my dog?

The frequency of baths depends on a number of factors, including your doggo’s breed, type of fur, lifestyle and any allergies or skin conditions they may have. For the latter, you should consult your vet and follow their instructions, as well as the directions on any medicated shampoos you may use. Otherwise, with standard shampoos containing questionable ingredients, it’s generally recommended to bathe your dog once a month. If you’re using a quality shampoo with safe and natural ingredients, however, you can safely bathe your pup once a week, or as often as they get dirty or stinky.

Can I use dog shampoo on my cat?

Generally, it’s not recommended to use dog shampoo on cats. This is because some dog shampoos contain ingredients like insecticides and essential oils that are toxic to cats. Also, dogs and cats have skin with different pH levels, which means using dog shampoo on your cat regularly would dry Kitty’s skin. However, some pet shampoos — including Paw Beauty products -- are safe to use on both cats and dogs. The important thing is to read the ingredients and avoid using any shampoo containing essential oils on your cat. And if you’re using a flea and tick shampoo, be sure to use one that’s labeled as safe for use on cats.

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written by

Paw Team

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