Friday, 6 July 2012

Dog, Cat, Pet Shampoo - Unsafe, Harmful Ingredients to be Avoided

Dogs are exposed to so many toxins and carcinogens these days. Every additional unsafe ingredient we expose our dogs to creates a heavier toxic load on our dog’s system. 

Talking about unsafe ingredients in pet shampoo products may seem trivial if you only bath your dog once in a blue-moon…but it is best to remember that you should look at toxic loading in broad perspective. 

Here is an example of how your dog’s and cat's  toxic load can build-up without you ever realizing it…

Your dog can be carrying a substantial toxic load. Now add a shampoo with toxic ingredients into the mix…even if that shampoo is only used a few times a year the bad (toxic, carcinogenic) ingredients are absorbed through your dog’s skin - resulting in further toxic load.

Don’t be fooled by product labels that say ‘all natural’, ‘safe’ etc. As dog shampoo is not considered a drug, there are no regulations to govern the term ‘all natural’, ‘safe’. Many manufacturers’ take advantage of this gap in regulations, therefore the one and only way to protect your dog is to know what to avoid.

Take a look at this list below - if the dog shampoo you are using contains any of these, throw it out! If you are looking to purchase a product take this list with you, or compare it to the product you are buying if purchasing on-line.

You can also make your own dog or cat shampoo and rinse - to do so is simple and you will be 100% sure you are using a safe, truly natural product.

Ingredients to Avoid in Commercially Manufactured Dog, Pet Shampoo

  • 1,4-diaminobenzene
  • Artificial colors (i.e.  blue 1,2,4, disperse blue 1; green 1,2,3; red 4,9,17,19,22,33,40;  yellow 5,6,8; disperse yellow 3 - will be shown as D =&C or FD&C…i.e. FD&C Red No.6);
  • Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride - synthetic germicides, long term use may affect immune system, cause asthma;
  • BHA;
  • BHT;
  • Coal Tar Dyes;
  • Diethanolamine (DEA);
  • DEA-Cocamide & Lauramide & Oleamidecondensates;
  • DEA-cocamide/lauramide condensates;
  • DEA-MEA/Acetame;
  • DEA-Sodium lauryl sulfate;
  • Dioxins;
  • Fragrances (Parfum) - unless from a truly all natural source;
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MIT);
  • Methicone;
  • Triethanolamine (TEA);
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS);
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES);
  • Paraphenylenediamine;
  • PEG-compounds (1,4-dioxane, propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters "eth" , i.e.polyethylene glycol);
  • P-phenylenediamine;
  • Propylene Glycol (used in anti-freeze!);
  • Phthalates;
  • Petrolatum or Mineral Oil (can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons);
  • Sodium Hydroxide;
  • Triclosan.
Although this list is lengthy, it represents only a portion of the harmful ingredients - toxins and carcinogens that can be present in off-the-shelf shampoo products for dogs and cats. 

In addition many companies including those that manufacture pet food and other pet products including shampoo and rinse test their products on 'research' dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals. These research animals suffer while enduring cruel and debilitating testing  and  are then 'euthanized' when no longer 'required' or when too damaged to be of further 'use'. The majority of research animals come from two basic sources: they are  breed specifically for use as research animals or, 2) they are from 'shelters', pounds and other animal control centers (ACC). While Pound Seizure is the law in places like Ontario Canada, some shelters in other parts of the USA and Canada choose to sell dogs and cats to D3 dealers that sell these innocent animals to research laboratories.

When you choose to make your own dog and cat pet care products you protect your own companion animal and while ensuring that you do not contribute to the abuse and death of other companion animals.

If you would like to make your own simple, safe, DIY all natural organic, herbal shampoo for dogs and cats you can try some of the recipes in this article.

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld 


  1. As a dog groomer....I would like to know if you have any suggestions on shampoo type products which are non toxic that I can purchase. My products are not labeled with the listed ingredients. How do I know they are toxic free

    1. If the ingredients are not provided on the label I would not use the products - you have no way of knowing if they are toxic free unless the manufacturer provides you with a website you can go to or a phone number that you can call to do research. As far as I am concerned if they are not listing ingredients they have something to hide. If they were proud of their product they would list the ingredients.

      Look for products that contain truly natural ingredients like coconut oil, kelp, aloe, citrus extracts etc.

    2. Common pet product ingredients such as aloe, chamomile, and citrus are toxic to cats and dogs. Check the ASPCA or

    3. Janet, the ASPCA`s listings are full of errors...the following provides some examples:
      First it important to understand that the SPCA and its various branches:
      1) Normally include allopathic veterinarians as members of their staff and also on their Board of Directors. Allopathic practitioners of medicine (human, canine, etc.)are excellent at emergency medicine but know little to nothing of nutrition, natural means of healing,nor how to strategically prevent illness - read here
      2) SPCA's HS's etc get a lot of food and medicine donated by the major pet food manufactures, i.e. and from the major pharmaceutical companies, i.e.
      In keeping with a knowledge base that is allopathic and is supported by big money the SPCA's list of dangerous foods does simply reflects the type of expertise within the society. This statement is not intended to belittle the SPCA but instead is simply a recognition of the culture of alloptahic medicine and the focus of those large pet-food and pharmaceutical companies.
      They (the ASPCA) simply do not understand the depth of the topic and simply publish what they are told by their allopathic veterinarians and the pharmaceutical companies. Honestly speaking it would not be in the best interest allopathic veterinarians and the pharmaceutical companies if more people knew how to treat issues with natural means - their multi-billion $ industry would lose $ in both the short term and the long term...

    4. There are many foods that when provided in moderation (to a dog) have many health benefits; but when provided in large amounts can have less than beneficial effects...for example:
      1) Garlic (;
      2) Fats (;
      and so on
      3) Fish, eggs, organ meats, etc. (
      The key is to provide these foods within a threshold where the food retains its healthful contributions - just as we would approach foods in the human diet.
      So, when fresh lemon or other fresh citrus is added to the daily diet in reasonable amounts toxicity is not an issue. If instead your dog drinks a couple of tablespoons of lemon oil - I would say you truly have something to worry about.
      All of my dogs eat a little citrus on a daily basis they also eat garlic on a daily basis. The ASPCA also lists dairy products as a food that dogs should not eat. One has to wonder where they did their research. Dogs have for 1000's of years eaten 'people' food including dairy products such as kefir and yogurt (, hard cheese, cottage cheese. My dogs eat (in reasonable beneficial quantities) yogurt hard cheese and cottage cheese every day. My dogs ( are very healthy :>)

    5. The ASPCA also lists raw meat as dangerous for dogs - funny that raw meat is a species appropriate food for dogs. It is not that raw meat id bad for dogs, it is that when the raw meat is not stored and handled properly it can BECOME a source of e-coli, etc.
      Prior to the 1950's when most dogs and cat`s ate 'people' food, dogs and cats lived longer healthier lives - dogs lived twice the life span that they live today.
      I find it ironic that the ASPCA does not include on their list of foods that are bad for dogs - items such as...
      1) Ethoxyquin (;
      2) GMO Corn and soy (
      3) The many ingredients listed in this article (
      4) And the many ingredients (approved by the FDA and AFCO) listed in this article ( all commonly found in Dry and Wet commercially manufactured dog and cat food.
      In my opinion a proper list of dangerous foods for dog should be based on common sense, logic and a proper explanation such as this one is
      As well the ASPCA fails to mention all of the toxins commonly included in dog care products such as dental chews, toothpaste ( and shampoo (
      So is lemon bad for dogs - only if you serve it to your dog in unreasonable quantities.
      In the same vein the juice of the aloe vera is not toxic to dogs or cats - in fact it provides health benefits - my dogs get aloe on a daily basis.
      Chamomile is not only not toxic to dogs but it can be used in herbal teas, tinctures and ingested as a herb. It can also be used on cats. It is commonly used as an anti-inflammatory and as a calming agent.
      The ASPCA says dairy is bad for dogs and cats - this is another misconception
      My dogs, my cats eat yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese on a daily basis as do my clients dogs and the dogs I used to foster.
      Cheers, Karen


Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats