When bath time looms your dog either turns into a pile of quivering jelly, hides under a tree, or goes stiff as board at the first sight of dog shampoo. If your dog resists bath time with every fiber of her being, you may go to extremes to hide her fate. But even if you think you’ve got every base covered, your dog is always one step ahead of you.

If you’re very lucky your dog doesn’t make herself scarce atDog shampoo bath time but may actually enjoy it. For all you know, bath time could be her favorite time of the week, month or year.

Whether your dog loves or loathes bath time, you can make the experience more enjoyable (or bearable). One way is to use a shampoo that is kind and gentle on her skin and leaves her with a radiant and healthy coat. Unfortunately, many of the commercial shampoos in supermarkets can cause or exacerbate itching and scratching. Not only is your dog extremely uncomfortable but bath time is even less fun.

The problem with commercial dog shampoos

According to Gregory L. Tilford (Whole Dog Journal), many dog shampoos on the market are actually too efficient at their job; they strip the skin and coat of natural oils that are essential to their health. Harmful ingredients present in many commercial shampoos include Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLF). They have been linked to severe skin conditions and even eye damage and diarrhea

So while a good shampoo can sometimes be exactly what your pup needs to relieve some of the itching caused by adventures in the wilderness, some commercial shampoos may be the cause rather than the cure.

Natural dog shampoo ingredients

For pups with persist itching and scratching, certain common household ingredients and herbs can serve as natural dog shampoo. Tilford provides the following examples:

  • Oatmeal

That’s right; the humble breakfast food can also be used to make natural oatmeal dog shampoo. Cook it until it resembles soup more than cereal and let it cool before pouring it over your dog. Keep it on your dog’s coat for as long as possible before rinsing it off and giving the coat a good brush.

  • Peppermint and lavender

You can soak either of these herbs in boiling water. Allow the mixture to cool and before you rinse your dog. As a bonus, it smells much better than most commercial shampoos.

  • Chamomile, plantain and calendula

The bacteria-fighting qualities of these herbs can be effective against any itching, scabs and sores on the skin. In cases where the skin appears flaky you can use a formula that contains a combination of juniper leaf, peppermint leaf and calendula flowers.

Easy homemade dog shampoo recipes

Dog after bath

Why only resort to homemade dog shampoo when the commercial products are causing problems? The best dog shampoo is one that contains natural, environmentally-friendly ingredients. In many cases these ingredients will have greater long-term benefits for the health of your dog’s skin and coat than any of the products you’d buy at supermarkets, which often don’t even list all the chemical ingredients.

Here are some examples of homemade dog shampoo ingredients as well as a suggested recipe for a naturally good dog shampoo.

  • White vinegar: It is anti-bacterial and a deodorizer.
  • Castile soap: Recommended by Leeann Teagno, this soap comes in liquid or solid form and contains olive oil, which has been proven to have beneficial effects on skin for both humans and dogs. It is easily acquired at most health food stores.
  • Vegetable glycerin: This is especially good for your dog’s coat as it replaces natural oils in the skin, as opposed to many commercial products that strip those natural oils away. It can be obtained at health stores.
  • Essential oils: These add a delightful scent to your shampoo. Some essential oils, such as lavender, are multi-purpose as they can also combat fleas. Some essential oils are dangerous for pets, so consult your vet before you add any to your homemade shampoo. Oils that are safe include orange, lemon, lavender and rose oil.


Combine ½ a cup of liquid castile soap, a ¼ cup of white vinegar (apple cider vinegar is an acceptable substitute), one tablespoon of vegetable glycerin (or olive oil as a substitute), two tablespoons of water and 3 – 4 drops of your chosen essential oil in a bottle. Shake well and use as normal.