Homemade Natural Dog Shampoo

By: Cassy Joy Garcia
Fed & Fit
Fed & Fit

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This 1-ingredient dog shampoo is my favorite budget-friendly, non-toxic way to wash my pup!

the ingredients and supplies needed for homemade pet wash

Benefits of a Natural Dog Shampoo:

In the exact same way that I care about what I put on my body, I also care about what my family puts on theirs. For me, family includes my husband, my daughters, and our fur babies, Gus and Ben. Gus and Ben are mostly-inside Great Pyrenees. They essentially have access to inside or outside whenever they want it, which means that their gorgeous coats collect a lot of dirt and grime.

Here’s why I opt for a non-toxic dog shampoo:

  • No more itchy skin – using quality, safer shampoo on our pups means that they are at a lower risk for dry, irritated skin. Both Gus and Ben are WAY less itchy since making the switch. Brandi, on team FF, said that she witnessed a difference in her pup's skin health really quickly after switching over to a natural option. There was suddenly less itching (which directly related to less hair balls around the house).
  • Overall health –  on a bigger scale than just irritated, itchy skin (though that’s frustrating and painful for your pup in its own right), is the link health complications (think: endocrine disorders, cancers, etc.) and environmental toxins. There's so much about our health, and the health of our beloved pets, that we can't control …but choosing a shampoo that won't contribute to potential problems feels like low-hanging fruit.

Can I use human shampoo on my dog?

While the shampoo I use on myself is definitely of the safer variety, it’s also pretty pricey. It just doesn’t feel like a manageable long-term solution.

Plus, because of the difference in pH between human and dog skin, shampoos and washes that are specifically designed for humans, regardless of safety, could actually be really irritating to dogs.

I love our fur boys and want the best for them, but also want to wash them with something that won’t break the bank. Enter, Branch Basics! Their Concentrate is powerful, safe, natural, and if broken down by the cost per use, extremely budget-friendly.

How often should I shampoo my dog?

While bathing your dog too often can cause itchy, irritated, dry skin (among a host of other things), you’ll definitely want to get on a good, regular dog-bathing schedule. Exactly how often you bathe your dog will vary based on a few things: how much time your dog spends outside, what breed of dog they are, how thick their coat is, their activity level, etc. Here’s exactly what several vets had to say about the matter:

“Dogs groom themselves to help facilitate the growth of hair follicles and to support skin health,” says Dr. Adam Denish of Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Elkins Park, Penn. “However, bathing is needed for most dogs to supplement the process. But bathing too often can be detrimental to your pet as well. It can irritate the skin, damage hair follicles, and increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections.” 

Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with petMD, adds, “the best bath frequency depends on the reason behind the bath. Healthy dogs who spend most of their time inside may only need to be bathed a few times a year to control natural ‘doggy odors.’ On the other hand, frequent bathing is a critical part of managing some medical conditions, like allergic skin disease.” How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog? PetMD Editorial

What makes this homemade dog shampoo different from store bought?

Branch Basics Concentrate is plant and mineral-based and fragrance + harmful preservative-free. It’s also super cost-effective: breaking down to about $1.48 per pet wash (if that’s the only thing you’re using the Concentrate for). 

a puppy laying his head down on a bed

What about dogs with sensitive skin? Is this dog shampoo as efficient as medicated dog shampoo?

That depends, and because we’re not veterinarians, giving a cut and dry answer to this would be irresponsible. If you’re currently using a medicated shampoo on your pup, you may bring up more natural alternatives with your vet to see if swapping out the medicated shampoo for Branch Basics Concentrate for the next few washes is doable.

I will say, because of the natural, non-toxic nature of the Concentrate, it is far less irritating than store-bought, conventional dog shampoos, so there’s a good chance that your pet (even those with established skin allergies) will do well with it.

Ingredients Needed to Make the Best Dog Shampoo:

The only ingredient you’ll need for this dog wash is Branch Basics Concentrate! You’ll use 1-4 tablespoons total per wash — 4 tablespoons is more than enough for me to bathe our 100+ pound boys, so start small and add more as needed. 

How to Make Dog Shampoo:

Because this dog shampoo is just one ingredient, you don’t actually have to *make* anything. I do recommend combining some water with your concentrate in a non-breakable cup before bathing to prevent you from overusing the Concentrate during the chaos of doggy bath time, but that’s something that can be done just before lathering it on your pup.

The Easiest Way to Wash Your Pooch

Below, is exactly how I bathe our sweet Gus:

  1. Get everything out that you need – before you get any water running or soap lathering, go ahead and get out every single supply that you’ll need. For us, that’s a brush/comb, non-breakable cup, the water hose, Branch Basics Concentrate, and 2 large towels (one laid down for Gus, for example, to stand on while being dried off + one to dry him off with), and a leash.
  2. Brush your pup – I've found that this step is actually easier to do before washing Gus, because the washing process tends to make existing tangles and knots even worse.
  3. Combine concentrate with water in cup – as mentioned above, mixing the Concentrate with a little bit of water in a cup ahead of time makes for a much more streamlined dog washing process. The Concentrate is pretty thin and liquidy, so with a soaking wet dog waiting to be washed and wet hands trying to get the soap, it’s really easy to over-pour the Concentrate from the bottle. To help remedy any potentially wasted Concentrate, I pour combined ¼ cup of Concentrate (4 tablespoons) with 1 cup of water in a cup. Remember, Gus is a very thick-coated 100+ pound dog, so unless your dog is of similar size/coat, you’ll probably need much less (closer to 2 tablespoons) of Concentrate.
  4. Wet and wash your dog – the next step here is getting your dog’s coat completely saturated with water. Then, pour watered down Concentrate on your pup, and lather and scrub to spread it all over their body. Note: I recommend washing your dog’s head LAST, as dogs (or at least, my dog) typically start to shake once their head gets wet.
  5. Rinse – after you’ve lathered and spread the soap all over your pup, use your water source (a hose, removable shower head, or refillable cup with a bucket of water nearby) to FULLY remove the soap from your pup’s fur. Any leftover soap can lead to itchy skin, so be sure to be really diligent with this step.
  6. Dry –  lead your pup to the towel that you laid out on the floor (step 1) and have him/her stand on the towel while you dry them off with the other towel. Most pups love this part!
  7. Brush again, if needed – give your dog another brush through the hair if needed. For more intense matted hair help, click HERE (though your dog’s coat will need to finish drying first!)
a white furry puppy laying on a human's bed

Can this dog shampoo recipe be altered to my dogs needs?

While this shampoo is geared toward the average, healthy pup, it’s definitely worth trying for needier pets too (pending an OK from your vet for any extra-special or sensitive cases). It’s amazing what a non-toxic, natural shampoo can help (especially in the way of itchy, irritated skin), so before you take to customizing your homemade shampoo, give this 1-ingredient recipe a go.

How many washes is this natural dog shampoo good for?

That’ll totally depend on how much Concentrate you use per wash. I recommend using anywhere between 1-4 tablespoons. I use 4 tablespoons for each 100+ pound pup in our house. Brandi on team FF uses 2 tablespoons for her 45-pound dog. Assuming that you’re only using the Concentrate for dog washing, find a breakdown (based on the number of tablespoons used per wash) below:

  • 1 tablespoon/wash: 64 washes per bottle
  • 2 tablespoons/wash: 32 washes per bottle
  • 3 tablespoons/wash: about 21 washes per bottle
  • 4 tablespoons/wash: 16 washes per bottle

How to store homemade dog shampoo?

My Branch Basics Concentrate lives underneath my kitchen sink (I use it for a lot more than just dog shampoo, though). Store your bottle wherever makes the most sense for you — no special directions here!

More Safer Home Cleaner Articles

To clean up more of your clean-up, purchase a Branch Basics Starter Kit HERE. Use code FEDANDFIT for 15% off!

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Homemade Best Dog Shampoo

Use this safer, non-toxic 1-ingredient pet wash next time you need to shampoo your pup!

  • Author: Cassy Joy Garcia

Ingredients

Scale
  • A dog comb/brush
  • Non-breakable cup
  • 14 tablespoons Branch Basics Concentrate
  • Water, to mix with Concentrate + more for wetting and rinsing your pup
  • 2 large towels

Instructions

  1. First, get everything out that you need: a brush/comb, non-breakable cup, your water source (the hose, a removable shower head, a refillable cup and bucket of water, etc.), Branch Basics Concentrate, and 2 large towels. Go ahead and lay one of the towels down on the ground (near where you're washing your pup, but out of water range).
  2. Brush through your pet's fur with their comb or brush.
  3. Combine the Concentrate with a little bit of water in the non-breakable cup. Mixing the two ahead of time makes for a much more streamlined dog washing process.
  4. Completely saturate your pup's coat with water. Then, pour the watered-down Concentrate on your pup, lathering and scrubbing to spread it all over their body. Note: I recommend washing your dog’s head LAST, as dogs (or at least, my dog) typically start to shake once their head gets wet.
  5. After you’ve spread the soap all over your pup, use your water source (a hose, removable shower head, or refillable cup with a bucket of water nearby) to FULLY remove the soap from your pup’s fur. Any leftover soap can lead to itchy skin, so be sure to be really diligent with this step.
  6. Lead your pup to the towel that you laid out on the floor (step 1) and have him/her stand on the towel while you dry them off with the other towel.
  7. Brush again, if needed.

Notes

Start small with the amount of Concentrate you use. For reference:

  • Brandi uses 2 tablespoons with her 45 pound dog
  • Cassy uses 4 tablespoons with her 100+ pound dog

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  1. Jessica says:

    I have been loving the FF Branch Basics videos on Instagram. I’m a long-time fan of their concentrate and have learned some new tips from your videos. My husband and I are getting a puppy. Guess where the first place was I went to see if Branch Basics could be used as a dog shampoo? FF duh! Of course Gus & Ben use the best. 🙂

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Aw, I’m so glad to hear that, Jessica! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Good luck with your new puppy — that’s so fun!