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Monday, October 21, 2013

Is your dog's shampoo safe?

Dogs, we love to get dirty...believe me I know!

We roll in yucky stuff, we tromp through the mud and dirt, we love to investigate puddles on our walks, and take a nice dip in a flowing stream on our hike. All leaving us with a not so pleasant aroma to our humans.

Us dogs, we don't know the difference between what humans think is a good smell and a bad smell. To us they are just oh so wonderful smells!

But, when us dogs get into smelly stuff, dog lovers quickly turn to bath time. Not only is bath time not the most fun time for many dogs, it can also be a dangerous time if you're not careful about which shampoo you use.

There are 1000's of dog shampoos on the market, but did you know that many of them contain dangerous ingredients that for humans have been linked to cancer, organ toxicity, respiratory ailments, reproductive disorders and more?

When you browse the pet store isle looking for a shampoo for your dog, be careful you look at the ingredients. Just like people shampoo, dog shampoo has ingredients you should avoid and ingredients you should look for.

First, let's take a look at some typical ingredients you will most probably find in any inexpensive dog shampoo on pet product shelves, all researched through the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database:
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: If you look at shampoo products on stores shelves, whether human or for dogs, you will most probably find sodium lauryl sulfate. It's a cleansing agent added to many shampoos and is the main ingredient that makes a product foam. While moderately toxic it can irritate skin, eyes and lungs, and holds moderate concern for organ system toxicity.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate is also an emulsifier and cleansing agent and holds the same toxicity levels as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.
  • Cocamide DEA: Also known as cocamide diethanolamine, this ingredient is a a chemically-modified form of coconut oil and often used as a foaming agent. This is a nasty ingredient, so nasty that in June 2012, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added Cocamide DEA to the California Proposition 65 (1986) list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Many, many dog shampoos on the market contain this ingredient, as do human shampoos, but are not labeled with a warning. Want to know which dog shampoos contain Cocamide DEA? Do a quick Google search.
  • Glycol Stearate: Glycol Stearate is composed ethylene glycol and stearic acid, a naturally occurring fatty acid, and has limited or no toxicity information available.
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine: Cocamidopropyl betaine is a synthetic surfactant; it has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities within.
  • Colloidal Oatmeal: This is a safe ingredient created from finely ground oatmeal.
  • Sodium Chloride: An inorganic salt (also called table salt).
  • Aloe Vera: Determined safe for use in cosmetics, subject to concentration or use limitations.
  • Carbomer: A large polymeric chemical composed of acrylic acid monomers, classified as not expected to be potentially toxic or harmful.
  • Fragrance: This is a tricky one as most always the complete ingredients of the fragrance isn't listed within the ingredients label, and it's not required to be. Many studies by the EWG have shown that "the word "fragrance" or "parfum" on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system."
  • Polyquaternium 7: This ingredient is a synthetic polymer based on quaternary ammonium compounds, and has a moderate concern of organ system toxicity.
  • Glycerin: Glycerin (also called glycerol) is a naturally occurring alcohol compound and a component of many lipids. Glycerin may be of animal or vegetable origin.
  • Extract of Chamomile: An Extract of the camomile (Chamomilla Recutita) flowers, this ingredient functions as a fragrance and skin-conditioning agent and has no toxicity.
  • Triethanolamine: A strongly alkaline substance used as surfactant and pH adjusting chemical, this ingredient has been shown to cause organ toxicity in one or more animal studies showing effects at moderate doses.
  • Propylene glycol: A small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin conditioning agent. It has been associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, as well as contact urticaria in humans.
  • Diazolidinyl urea: An antimicrobial preservative that works by forming formaldehyde in cosmetic products. People exposed to such formaldehyde-releasing ingredients may develop a formaldehyde allergy or an allergy to the ingredient itself.
  • Methylparaben: In the paraben family of preservatives and used by the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care product industries, parabens mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors.
  • Propylparaben: Also in the paraben family of preservatives and results in the same effects as Methylparaben.
  • D-Panthenol: Used in food or as an additive with limited or no toxicity information available.
Now that we've covered a typical inexpensive dog shampoo you may find on any pet store shelf, lets take a look at typical ingredients from a healthier, safer dog shampoo - the Peppermint & Tea Tree Oil Shampoo Bar (Certified Organic) from Raise A Green Dog Partner DERMagic.
  • Saponified Coconut: Saponified oil or fat is a lipid substance treated with sodium or patassium hydroxide to convert it into soap. No known toxicity issues.
  • Olive: No toxicity.
  • Castor Oil: Produced by hydrogenation of Ricinus communis (Castor) seed oil, this ingredient functions as a skin-conditioning agent and has no toxicity.
  • Sunflower Oil: Sunflower oil is extracted from the seeds of the sunflower, Helianthus annuus, and has no toxicity.
  • Essential Oils: This oils are distilled or extracted from a wide variety of plants and hold no toxicity issues when used appropriately in this form.
  • Saponified oil: Also listed as saponified fat, a lipid substance treated with sodium or patassium hydroxide to convert it into soap. Has no toxicity issues.
  • Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil: An oil expressed from rice bran, oryza sativa is utilized as a skin-conditioning agent and has no known toxicity issues if derived from organic sources. If not derived from organic sources it may contain minute pesticide residue.
  • Stearic acid: A naturally occurring fatty acid and has no toxicity issues.
  • Organic Aloe Vera: Determined safe for use in cosmetics, subject to concentration or use limitations.
  • Vitamin E: Tocopherols are a class of naturally occurring chemical compounds related to Vitamin E utilized as a skin-conditioning agent and determined safe for use in costmetics.
  • Organic Dried Peppermint: Determined safe for use in cosmetics, subject to concentration or use limitations.
As you can see there is a big difference in the health and safety of these two dog shampoos. Which one would you want to use with your dog?

How can you research the health and safety of your dog shampoo or one that you are considering purchasing for your green dog?

Go to the Skin Deep Database of the Environmental Working Group. There you can insert into the search box any ingredient you would like to investigate and determine it's safety from 0 (safe) to 10 (very toxic) to help you make a much more informed decision.

The results of utilizing a healthier dog shampoo are significant, including:
  • Less exposure to toxic chemicals that may be carcinogenic and potentially cancerous.
  • Less exposure to toxic chemicals that may affect your dog's respiratory system.
  • Less exposure to toxic chemicals that may affect your dog's organ function.
  • Less exposure to ingredients that may create allergic responses.
  • Less ingredients that can strip the natural oils of your dog's coat, creating skin flaking and itching.
All resulting in a healthier, happier dog with a shiny, clean, wonderful smelling, natural coat!

Some quick dog bathing tips for a healthier, happier dog:
  • If you take your dog to a groomer, take along your healthier, safer shampoo! Good groomers will respect your wishes and utilize products on your dog that are pre-approved by you.
  • If you groom and bath your dog at home like we do, utilize a handheld shower filter that filters out the nasty chemicals (chlorine, fluoride and more) that can contribute to increased health risks for your dog through skin absorption and through inhaling.
  • Dogs don't need as many baths as you may think! A healthy dog, fed a wonderful healthy diet will smell better, longer. Believe it or not we only get baths maybe 2-3 times a year. Between baths we get a good brushing at least once a week, a quick wipe down with a wet wash cloth when we roll in yucky stuff or get into some mud. With this we still smell wonderful and Mum loves burying her nose in our coat and taking a big wiff. She says we smell just like the great outdoors! And the best part is we sport a shiny, clean, healthy coat that most dogs would envy!
Happy Bathing!

Sources: Environmental Working Group


  1. I'm happy to say that I think our dog shampoo is very safe, because it's all natural and I love it. We use Paws on Earth dog shampoo bars and although they're no longer available, I bought out their stock so we're set for years :)


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