Grooming

DIY Dog Shampoo Recipes: 5 Great Options For Your Pup

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Last Updated: August 18, 2023 | 7 min read | Leave a Comment

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Whether you’re here because you can’t find a shampoo that works for Fido or you are an eco-conscious dog owner. Or maybe you’re a natural DIY’er who prefers to know what things are made from. DIY dog shampoo could be the answer that you’ve been looking for. And thankfully, they are super easy to make too!

In this guide, we will show you several DIY dog shampoo recipes, all with ingredients and guidelines. Not all dogs are the same, and some dogs have particular skin types or concerns that will need different recipes.

Everyone’s a winner with DIY doggy shampoo. So, let’s jump straight into all of the DIY doggy shampoo details and recipes.

Benefits of DIY Dog Shampoo

Chow Chow in bath getting head scrubbed with shampoo
There are several benefits to making your own shampoo for your dog.

There are many benefits of making your own doggy shampoo. Here are just a few of them:

Cheaper

The ingredients are usually much less expensive than doggy shampoo products. Not only that, but you don’t have to pay any extra dollars to cover the brand’s overheads, and you aren’t paying for the packaging either.

You know what’s inside

Whichever shampoo formula you pick, you know the ingredients in it. You also know what’s not in it – no nasties, no chemicals, no artificial colors, etc. This is important for dogs, especially those with sensitive skin.

Greener

Doing it yourself means that it is usually much better for the environment too. Not only is less plastic used, but there are no palm oil or nano-particles used either.


Dog Skin pH Levels

Before you jump straight in, you need to know a little bit about dog skin pH levels. Our own skin pH level is anywhere between 4.5 to 6.5, compared to a dog’s, which is between 6 and 8.5. Making canines’ pH levels more alkaline than ours. For this reason, we shouldn’t use human shampoo on dogs because it is more acidic. Causing irritation and in some cases, burning their skin.

When making a recipe, it is important to follow it rather than leave out certain ingredients. The ingredients will help to balance out each other’s pH levels. Look at the following common DIY shampoo ingredients and their pHs:

  • Vinegar – 2.2 (acid)
  • Baking soda – 8.3 (alkaline)
  • Water – 7 (neutral)

As you can see, if you were to leave the baking soda out of the mixture, it would make it far too acidic for Fido’s skin, and vice versa. So, always follow recipe instructions. If you want to know the exact pH level of the shampoo that you are making. Either out of curiosity or because it is important for your sensitive pooch, pH testing strips can be bought from online markets.

Keep in mind that even the gentlest shampoos may not be enough. If your pup has severe allergies, you may need to use an over-the-counter medicine, like Benadryl, for dry and itchy skin.


Commonly Used Ingredients

Close up of dish soap suds
There are several common ingredients in DIY shampoo for dogs, including dish soap.

There are many common ingredients found in the below recipes. Here we will run you through the most commonly used ingredients because it’s important that you know why they are used. But it also means you can stock up on them if you want to get into the habit of making your own doggy shampoo for every bathtime.

Non Toxic Dish Soap

This ingredient is surprising to many dog owners out there – is dish soap really safe to use on his skin? The answer is that yes, it is, but you need to find a nontoxic option. Many online resources suggest Dawn dish soap is the best nontoxic soap. Dish soap will help to cut through the grease and grime on his coat.

Adding this to the shampoo allows the ingredients to combine. Without the need for any harsh ingredients or chemicals that many other commercial dog shampoos use. This is the same for Castile soap, and Dr. Bronner’s is a great option.

Vinegar

Vinegar is a common household ingredient. It has a wide variety of uses, with doggy shampoo being one of them. It has three purposes in dog shampoo, including deodorizing his coat and adding a little extra shine. And it also has antibacterial qualities. White vinegar and apple cider vinegar are the best types to use.

Baking Soda

Baking soda helps balance the acidity of the vinegar, so it is important to include it when the recipe states to use it. It will also deodorize his coat, and it kills fleas naturally. So, all in all, it is a great ingredient to use on Fido’s skin and coat. And it is found in almost everyone’s cupboards.


Best DIY Dog Shampoo Recipes

Lab head getting lathered by human hands in tub
Below are our five favorite DIY shampoos you can use for your pup.

There are many dog shampoo recipes out there, and we have sorted through the good and the bad. Below are our favorite recipes. Read through them all because some are purpose-built for particular skin needs and concerns. In no particular order, here they are.


Super Simple Shampoo

This recipe is for those times when you need a quick shampoo formula with basic ingredients. It’s suitable for most dogs and will do the job of cleaning him just fine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/4 of nontoxic dish soap

Find yourself a clean spray bottle, combine all of the above ingredients together, and shake well. Rinse Fido with warm water and spray the shampoo onto his coat. Be sure to avoid his eyes. Lather up well, then rinse. Making sure that his coat is completely free of shampoo and suds.


Soothing Oatmeal Shampoo

This recipe is great for dogs who have dry and flakey skin or inflamed skin. Oatmeal is commonly used in high-quality commercial dog shampoos, so you can be sure that it is a great ingredient to use. Oatmeal has long been used by humans, too, as it soothes and calms inflamed skin, and some people with eczema swear by oatmeal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of uncooked oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1 quart of warm water

The oatmeal must be ground into a flour-like consistency with either a food processor or a coffee grinder. Grab yourself a large plastic bowl and combine the ground oatmeal and baking soda. Then, add the warm water and stir until mixed fully. Wet Fido’s coat with warm water and then rub the shampoo into his coat. If he will let you, let it sit on his skin for a few minutes. Then, rinse thoroughly and dry.


Moisturizing Aloe Vera Shampoo

Aloe Vera is a great ingredient for adding and locking in moisture. So, if Fido has super dry skin, this could be the answer he has been waiting for. Glycerin is also a fantastic ingredient for trapping moisture in the skin.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of baby shampoo or nontoxic dish soap
  • 1 cup of apple cider or white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of glycerin
  • 2 tablespoons of natural aloe vera gel
  • 1 quart of warm water

Add all of the ingredients to a clean spray bottle and add to his wet coat. Lather up well, and rinse. Ensure that all shampoo suds and residue is gone.


Flea-Repellent Dog Shampoo

Fleas and other pests are a part of the doggy-owning course. Although this shampoo does not replace Fido’s usual flea treatments, it is an additional line of defense against the pesky critters. Plus, the essential oils mentioned below are natural and will make him smell wonderful. Essential oils repel pests like fleas, so one whiff of his shampoo and they will run for another canine victim.

This recipe uses essential oils, but not all essential oils are safe for dogs. Only use the oils recommended above or others if your vet has recommended them to you. And never use undiluted essential oils, nor allow Fido to ingest them.

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces of warm water
  • 2 ounces of aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon of castile soap
  • 2 drops of essential lavender oil (2 further drops each of rosemary, peppermint, and eucalyptus can also be added)

Combine all of the ingredients in a clean spray bottle and shake. The oils and the water will need much more shaking than the other shampoos for the ingredients to mix well. Add to his coat once you have washed him in warm water. Rinse his coat and dry.


Occasional Dry Doggy Shampoo

It’s important not to overwash your dog because it can strip his skin of the natural oils that he produces. And it is these oils that keep his coat looking and feeling healthy. All dog breeds are different and need washing more so than others. But in between washes, dogs can get super dirty, so what do you do then?

Dry shampoos are a great way to deodorize his coat in between bathtimes. Massaging the below ingredients into his coat and skin will freshen him up. But only use this once in between washes, as the powder will build up, eventually blocking pores.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • 2 drops of essential oil (either lavender, rosemary, peppermint, or eucalyptus)

Sprinkle the mixture onto his coat and massage it gently into his skin. Remembering all of those hidden spots, such as his underarms. Generally speaking, 1 cup of the mixture will be suitable for a medium-sized dog. So use more or less of it according to your pooches size. A great way to store your dry shampoo is in a clean salt or pepper shaker.


Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to DIY dog shampoo, there are many questions that dog owners have. Here are a few of the most commonly asked.

Q: What’s the best homemade shampoo for dogs?

A: This all depends on what your dog needs. If your pooch has dry and flakey skin, we would recommend the moisturizing aloe vera shampoo above. Or if your pooch has mildly irritated skin and doesn’t need medicated shampoo, the oatmeal recipe above would be ideal for him. If he is increasingly becoming infected with fleas, one with essential oils would be the best choice.

Q: Can I use human shampoo on my dog?

A: The short answer is no. A dog’s skin is much more sensitive, and they have a different skin pH level to us, humans. This means that when using human shampoo, it can irritate their skin, causing them to scratch. Not only does this lead to dry and flakey skin, but it can also lead to sores and bacterial infections too. So, you really should avoid it. Thankfully, the DIY recipes above are much better.

Q: Is baby shampoo ok for dogs?

A: It is better for dogs than generic human shampoo because babies’ skin is much more sensitive than fully grown adults’ skin. Baby shampoo is ok if that’s all you have to hand in an emergency. Or it is ok as part of a recipe with other ingredients like some of the options above. But we would not recommend it as a go-to shampoo for Fido.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, a varied list of DIY dog shampoo to suit every doggy need and every kitchen cupboard. Hopefully, we have cleared the air when it comes to doggy skin pH levels and the reasons why you should opt for a do-it-yourself formula. With recipes here for every dog and their differing needs, your pooch will be clean and smelling fresh in no time. Check out more DIY grooming tips.

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