Do you know what’s in your dog’s shampoo?
Buying shampoo is a low-involvement process for most people. So, it doesn’t need a lot of their effort or consideration before purchase. One can choose a shampoo by its packaging, its smell, or its price. All done within five minutes.
But, many people do not know that most shampoos contain ingredients that may harm your hair and body with prolonged use. The same applies to dogs.
Not to mention dogs are much smaller in size and pet products are less regulated. Shampoo ingredients could be one of the reasons countless dogs suffer from health problems.
It’s frightening to know that harmful shampoo ingredients are so common and can cause irritation, allergy, endocrine disruption, and so on with prolonged use.
Hence, as much as possible, eliminate or reduce the potentially harmful ingredients in the products we use. The order of the ingredients presented in any list is according to quantity. So, the ingredient with the most amount used comes first. If you don’t have time to examine the whole list, at least look at the first few ingredients.
Here’s a list of potentially harmful dog shampoo ingredients:
Categories of harmful ingredients
Surfactants help to remove dirt and produce foam and lather to make shampooing easier. The most common surfactants seen in shampoos are sulfates. That’s the reason why shampoos without sulfates do not lather well.
1. Sodium Laureth Sulfate or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – May cause irritation, dryness of skin and coat, or hair loss depending on concentration. Note that it is usually high on the ingredients list. It is also a penetration enhancer – avoid especially if your dog’s skin is in poor condition
2. Ammonium laureth sulfate or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate – May cause irritation, dryness of skin and coat, or hair loss depending on the concentration. Note that it is usually high on the ingredients list
3. Cocamide DEA or Coco Amides – May cause irritation or allergy in high concentrations. Hence, make sure that it is low on the ingredients list and do not let your dog ingest shampoos that contain it. When in doubt, test on a small area first.
4. Cocamidopropyl Betaine – May cause irritation or allergy due to by-products present
5. Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) – May cause irritation or organ toxicity. There may be contamination with ethylene oxide and dioxane, which are carcinogenic. It is also a penetration enhancer – avoid especially if your dog’s skin is in poor condition
6. Parabens – Risk of endocrine or hormone disruption
7. Diazolidinyl urea – Breaks down and releases formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. May cause irritation or allergy
9. Triclosan – May cause irritation and endocrine disruption. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned this ingredient in human hand and body washes. Canada and Japan did the same in human cosmetics
10. “Fragrance” in an ingredient list means a vague mix of chemicals. They may cause irritation, allergy, and respiratory distress. Ask the manufacturer what makes up the “Fragrance” or go for shampoos and soaps that use natural scents, such as dog safe essential oils
You can check whether an ingredient is safe at the Cosmetic Ingredient Review. For a more layman resource albeit not fully backed by science, you can go to the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
Do note that some ingredients are controversial but may not actually be proven harmful. At the end of the day, you decide how safe you want to be. But if a shampoo bottle doesn’t state the full ingredient list, put it back!
Some shampoos advertise themselves as “natural” and/or free of certain harmful ingredients. Sadly, that may not be the case.
Here’s the ingredient list of a shampoo brand that promotes themselves as free from paraben and SLS. While that is true, see whether you can spot other potentially harmful dog shampoo ingredients:
Aqua/Water/Eau, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Alkyl Polyglucoside, Dead Sea Salt, Glycerine, Natural Conditioners, Panthenol, Polyquaternium 7, Dead Sea Mineral Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Coco Nucifera (Coconut Oil), Dimethicone, Fragrance, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA
To ensure shampoo doesn’t cause harm to your dog,
- spend some time to read ingredients lists
- buy from a quality brand
- don’t let the shampoo get near or into your dog’s eyes and mouth
- rinse the shampoo off thoroughly
Fortunately, there are now more and more shampoos out there that don’t contain these “nasties”. Choose those!
If you’re still not sure, you can find some shampoos and conditioners that we approve of here.