Homemade Dog Shampoo Recipes

There are a number of homemade dog shampoo recipes that dog owners swear by. They're easy to make as well.

We are indebted to Jill of PurestPets, Florida, for the following information:

"Homemade dog shampoo recipes are a great solution to the problem of dog allergies because commercial shampoos often contain TRICLOSAN, an antibiotic that not only kills bad bacteria but good bacteria as well."

Comet got into digging after a critter so much one day that the dirt was just flying!Comet needed a bath after this digging marathon!

Jill continues with: "This can be problematic for dogs with yeast problems or when trying to strengthen sensitive skin in general. At least that is what my research has taught me."

Benefits of Homemade Dog Shampoos

Reported advantages are:

  • you know what ingredients you are adding to your dog's skin
  • the dog's coat becomes nice and soft when dry
  • strong doggy odors disappear
  • tangles and excess fur comb out easily
  • dogs may stop scratching all the time
  • the dog's skin doesn't dry out
  • the dog's coat is no longer greasy
  • you can save money!

Why Human Shampoos Should Be Avoided

According to Pet MD, there is a protective layer of oil on the skin of people and dogs called the acid mantle that wards off bacteria and viruses. Soap and shampoo remove this mantle temporarily - the skin will form a new one in about half a day.

The pH of this oily layer lies in an acidic range under 6.2 for humans. Therefore, most human soaps and shampoos have a specially prepared moisturizer added to restore the proper pH level. An ineffective soap can allow bacteria or viruses to cause dry, flaky skin or an itchy rash.

The pH of a dog's acid mantle is generally less acidic and may even be alkaline (between 5.5 and 7.5). So if you use a human shampoo, your dog is likely to have problems. You basically want to create a shampoo that is fairly neutral.


Regular Shampoo from 3 Ingredients

One that has received rave reviews as working on a wide variety of breeds is the Sham Pooch Dog Shampoo by Titanium Chef. Most other shampoo recipes we've seen are a variation on this.


Mix a pint each of: water, Ivory, Dove or Castile liquid dishwashing soap, and apple cider vinegar.* Then add 4 oz of glycerin, which you can get from a pharmacy. Simply mix everything together and put it in a container.

*Please note: Diane, a visitor from California, wrote in to say that "if you use Castile soap you will end up with a slimy mess as the vinegar breaks down the Castille into the oils it's made of" (the soap is a base [or alkaline] and the vinegar an acid). You may have better results by lathering with just the soap and glycerin, and then rinsing with the vinegar. 

Russ Richer, a dog lover featured on Article City, says he recommends a rinse made of a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with a pint of warm water to restore the pH balance of your dog's skin after using store bought (or other) shampoos.

Here's another comment by Jill from PurestPets in Florida: 

Hi. I loved your article. My own dog has had allergies, so for the past three years I have been researching and learning as much as I can about it. I have been making his allergy shampoo for two years now. In addition to what you explained about the pH balance specific to dogs, I noticed that it also keeps the skin from drying out with frequent bathing. 


Work as much as you need into your dog's coat, let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then rinse your dog completely with warm water (or half vinegar, half water). Towel dry or let your dog dry off in a sunny place. Make sure the dog does not have access to fresh mud or manure shortly after the bath.


It is best to bathe infrequently if possible, about once a month or so. Your dog can swim or be washed in plain water in between, as this will not interfere with the oil layer on the skin.


A few drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil can be added in for a nice smell. However, we think this is not necessary since, although the recipe can smell strongly of vinegar during the bathing process, that smell disappears when the dog's coat is dry. Any use of essential oil should be researched and tested on one little area of your dog to make sure there will be no allergic reaction to adding it to shampoo.

One person says she now uses the shampoo for her own hair! Makes me want to try it!


The vinegar can sting so make sure that you do not get this mixture into a dog's eyes and cover open sores or cuts before use.


Oatmeal or Baking Soda Dog Shampoos 

Comet hiding because he was not fond of taking baths

If your dog has a skin problem that needs soothing, we have made oatmeal or baking soda shampoos, and also tried a combination. 

If what you are using appears to bring relief to your dog from itching, repeat every few days.

If not, talk to a vet about the symptoms and things you've tried.


  • For the oatmeal to work, you need to use raw rolled oats (the old-fashioned kind), and turn it into a flour by using a coffee grinder or food processor. [A blender will not work since blenders need liquid mixed in.] 
  • For the baking soda, simply buy a large box.
  • Mix either of these items into your dog's coat down to the skin, let the ingredient sit for a while - at least 5 minutes - then brush it out. 


  • Take the oatmeal flour, also known as colloidal oatmeal because the particles are fine, and mix it with an equal amount of room temperature water. (We found with F.B. that warm water is more irritating than water at a lower temperature if the dog is already having a skin problem.)
  • Then rub the paste into the coat, making sure it reaches the skin. After at least 5 minutes, rinse the mixture out and pat the dog dry rather than rubbing the fur.
  • Be sure to clean the tub right away, using lots of water to rinse, else it may stick to the sides and clog the drain.
  • Some people add an equal amount of baking soda to the oatmeal flour and water and use that. The baking soda neutralizes odors. It can also be added on top of your dog's bedding in between baths.

Other Homemade Dog Shampoo Recipes

Russ Richer also has an inexpensive homemade dog shampoo recipe consisting of a handful of aloe vera gel diluted with some water, applied to a dog while its coat is dry. You can add a little baby shampoo if you want foam. Then rinse your furry friend with warm water.

His last suggestion is about deoderizing a dog. Take a teeny bit of essential oil that has an aroma you like and dab on the skin along the dog's spine where the dog can't lick it. Again, we recommend you test one spot first to make sure it won't irritate the dog's skin.

For homemade dog shampoo recipes that deal with flea problems, dogs that have been skunked, or dogs that have rolled in smelly things like manure, see more homemade dog shampoo information.

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