What kind of dog shampoos are best?

Rouge Design’s doggy style question…I am new here and have really enjoyed all the great info on products for myself. Then I got to thinking about my baby boy. That is, my Mini Schnauzer. I’m wondering if you know anything about dog shampoo ingredients and what would be safe for their skin?

The Right Brain’s response:

Hi Rouge, and welcome to the Beauty Brains! We specialize in beauty science, not puppy pulchritude, but we’ll do our best to answer your question. We looked at dog shampoos and one of the first things we found out surprised us: Several salon hair care brands now make pet products!

Designer dog shampoos

That’s right. We found 3 different designer hair care companies who are now catering to pets. Who knows how many more are lurking in the wings? Here are some examples:

Kiehls Cuddly Coat Grooming Shampoo

Yes that’s right. Kiehls is not just for people anymore! They have a line of pet products including this shampoo. And according to their website, here are the ingredients:

Water, Disodium cocodiamphoacetate, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, Bishydroxyethyl Dihydroxypropyl Stearamonium chloride, Cocamide MIPA, Glycerine, Fragrance, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Chamoomile Extract

John Paul Pet Super Bright Shampoo

Not to be outdone by Kiehls, stylist Paul Mitchell enters the fray with his John Paul Pet line. These products don’t list any ingredients, but they do proudly proclaim that they’re “tested on humans first.” First? And then what happens?

Pet Head Dirty Talk Deodorizing Shampoo

Bed Head has always been an edgy brand and they’ve carried that playful tone into their new Pet Head line. Sure, Pet Head is a is a clever play on words but what’s up with the saucy “Dirty Talk” name? Is this a dog shampoo or date night for Sarah Bellum? (Again, no mention of ingredients.)

Sulfate free dog shampoos

Despite their designer origins, none of these brands appear to be sulfate free. So let’s get back to Rouge’s original question about ingredients. As she pointed out in our Forum, you should only bathe your dog every month (or less) so you don’t dry out their skin. We’ve blogged before that sulfates are cheap, effective cleansing ingredients but they can be too drying for some skin types. In low concentrations, with infrequent usage, it’s unlikely that they would cause any problem for your pet. But, if you’re worried about using sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) shampoos on your pet’s delicate skin, then you need to find products that list the ingredients so you can look for non-sulfate formulas. You should look for the same kinds of ingredients used in baby shampoos like decyl glucoside. Here are a few examples of sulfate free dog shampoos you might want to consider.

Not Soap, Radio Say It With Suds You’re the Best Dog Herbal Shampoo

Ingredients: Aqua (distilled water), Sodium Olefin Sulfonate (plant source), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Cocamidoproply Betaine (plant source), Sodium Chloride Sea Salt, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Apple (Pyrus Malus) cider vinegar, Potassium Sorbate, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Neem (melia azadirachta) leaf extract, Tocopherol (*Vitamin E), Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Sodium Bicarbionate (Baking Soda), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender Extract) Oil, Cedrus Atlantica (Cedarwood) Bark Oil, Eucalyptus Globulous Leaf Oil, Cymbopogon Nadus (citonella) oil, Citric Acid (natural pH Adjuster)

The olefin sulfonate will not be as mild as regular baby shampoo.

Cloud Star Buddy Wash Pet Shampoo, Lavender & Mint

Ingredients: Coconut shampoo base, aloe vera gel, essence of lavender, essence of mint, chamomile extract, sage extract, nettles extract, rosemary extract, wheat protein extract (natural deodorizing agent), tea tree oil, vitamin E, vitamin C

We’re not sure about this one since it’s hard to tell what the heck coconut shampoo base includes. Since SLES can be made from coconut oil it could be “hidden” in the blend.

Nature’s Dog By Canus Fresh Goat’s Milk All Natural Shampoo Bar

Ingredients: Sodium Palmate, Sodium Palm Kernealate, Aqua, Glycerin, Caprae Lac (Fresh Goat’s Milk), Parfum, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract, Juniperus Communis Fruit Extract, Malaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract, Sodium Chloride, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Tetra Sodium Edta.

While it’s sulfate free, this soap based cleanser may not be very mild.

Four Paws Magic Coat Tearless Shampoo for Dogs and Puppies with Sensitive Skin

Ingredients: Water, Triethanolamine, Coamide DEA, PEG-40 Lanolin, Perfume, Quaternium 15, EDTA, Sodium Chloride, FD&C Yellow #5.

Ok, this one we’re suspicious of because of misspellings in the ingredient list we found online. Our guess is that it really contains Triethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate which is milder than most sulfates but it still is a sulfate.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Unlike people products, pet shampoos don’t have to list ingredients so it’s tricky to tell what each product contains. But based on our experience with people, occasionally using a shampoo that contains SLES is probably not really a problem. Still, if you are concerned, look for dog shampoos that list the ingredients on the label and avoid “sulfates.” Or, you could also use a regular baby shampoo. Or if you have an extra $6000 to spend, you could get the latest gadget for your pet: a shampoo-free automatic dog washer.

What do YOU think? Do you have a favorite pet shampoo? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.