Make your own, all natural DIY dog shampoo with simple ingredients you already have at home. It’s easy to make, cleans well, and is kind to your best friend’s coat!
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Our Rescue Dogs
I may be biased, but I think we adopted the world’s best rescue dogs!
Our first rescue is named Gus and he is a 9-year-old German Shepherd/Collie mix. We adopted him in 2011 from the West Side German Shepherd Rescue in Los Angeles, CA.
I can’t take credit for making him the world’s best dog. He was 2 and a half years old when we adopted him and was already fully trained! He was skinny, dirty, and shy but we could tell he was a sweet goober of a dog.
Gus had been relinquished to a city pound by his former family because he was “itchy.” We brought him home, switched him to corn-free dog food, started washing him regularly with all-natural shampoo, and the itching stopped!
I’m so glad we get to be his forever family!
Last year we decided to add a puppy to our family and began looking for rescue dogs. After a few months of searching (and more than a few visits to the Humane Society) we found a German Shepherd puppy who was born with PRAA (a restricted esophagus). We adopted her in the summer of 2018 from the Muddy Paws Second Chance Rescue in Omaha, NE.
Luna had surgery to correct her birth defect before her adoption and we continue to keep her healthy with a restricted diet and six small meals a day. She’s a petite girl at only 52 pounds but is thriving with our family!
Like any puppy, Luna is an inquisitive ball of energy. She keeps me on my toes all day long, but I couldn’t imagine life without her!
Dog Allergies and Itchy Skin
Like many dogs, our rescues have a few sensitivities that can make them scratch until their skin is raw and lick their paws obsessively:
- Many dogs are allergic to corn. If they get any in their diet (via dog food or dog treats) they can turn into a big itchy mess.
- Some dogs have seasonal allergies. Seasonal irritants such as pollen can cause dogs to scratch and lick their paws relentlessly during the spring, summer, and fall (until a hard freeze).
- Dogs are sensitive to yard fertilizers and herbicides. After a walk through yards that use standard commercial lawn care products, dogs can have irritated paws and be an itchy mess.
- We only use natural lawn products and try to avoid grass that has been treated with harsh chemicals.
- We use a povidone-iodine foot bath to help reduce itchy paws.
Regular Dog Baths
We help keep our dogs’ allergies at bay by bathing them frequently (ever 1-2 weeks in high allergy months). We groom them at home and use our own homemade dog shampoo to stop itching.
How to Make DIY Dog Shampoo
- ½ cup Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid, Free & Clear (or another gentle, non-toxic, non-scented dish detergent)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup water
Combine ingredients in a plastic bottle, shake together and use to wash your dog. Wet dog with warm water, apply shampoo and massage, then rinse well (as you should with all dog shampoos). This recipe makes enough to wash our 70 lb dog several times.
- Patch test this wash on one small part of your dog to check for allergic reactions.
- Your dog will smell slightly vinegary after his or her bath but will smell like nothing (but a clean dog) when dry. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer.
DIY Dog Shampoo Cost
Making your own dog shampoo is very economical!
- Our old dog shampoo cost around $8 for 4 washes or $2 a wash
- The DIY version costs $1.31 for 3 dog washes or about $0.44 a wash ($0.56 for 4 ounces of Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid, $0.75 for 4 ounces of organic apple cider vinegar, ap, $0 for tap water)
I get lots of questions about making my own dog shampoo. Here are a few of the most common questions and answers
- I don’t have dog shampoo what can I use? Combine 1/2 cup natural, unscented dishwashing detergent, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup water in a plastic bottle. Shake until well combined. Use like regular dog shampoo avoiding eyes and ears. RInse well.
- Can I add essential oil to the dog shampoo? Essential oils can be dangerous for dogs who have a better sense of smell than humans and lick their coat. I do not use essential oils in my homemade dog shampoo. If you want to add essential oils you should be aware of the risks.
- Can I add scent to the shampoo or use scented detergent in the shampoo? Chemicals used to scent dishwashing detergent can irritate dogs’ skin. I do not use scented detergent in my homemade dog shampoo. The apple cider vinegar is a natural deodorizer that will leave your dog scent free once he is dry.
- Can I make DIY dog shampoo with Castile soap? Yes, but you cannot combine Castile soap with vinegar. Instead, you should mix 10 ounces of warm water with 1 tablespoon of unscented Castile soap. Wash dog then rinse well with fresh water. Finally, rinse with apple cider rinse (mix together 1 cups of apple cider vinegar with 8 -10 cups of warm water). Avoid eyes and ears.
- How can I get skunk smell out of dog’s fur? The American Kennel Club recommends a making a scent eliminating DIY dog shampoo from baking soda, dishwashing detergent, and 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Get full directions here.
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