Well, at last – I have a spare hour today, and after many requests, thought I’d offer up a few ideas for making your own shampoo. I’ve been asked so many times, and there are mighty good reasons to do so; first off,  most commercial shampoos contain a list of 17-syllable chemicals that you do NOT want, much less need on your dog’s precious skin(and licked off as residue, yuck).  For an overview of what goes into many human and canine products, have a read:  http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/08/28/deconstructing-your-haircare-ingredients

With home made shampoo all of these can be avoided, and the treatment actually beneficial for your dog, as well as safe for the environment.

Second, the beauty of a home made product is, you can tailor it to your own dog’ s needs.   In a nutshell, I use a basic template, to which we can add any number of things – aloe, jojoba oil, all sorts of herbs and herb mixtures – according to the dog’s coat type. Some herbs are ideal for an oilier coat, some more emollient, and some soothing for the dog with skin inflammation and itching. I’ll start with the core recipe, and make specific suggestions as we go.

The Recipe

First, this is based on many years of testing the variations on a core theme, which you can find in all kinds of places.(My very first resource was Kitchen Cosmetics, by Jeanne Rose, circa 1979, but there are myriad others). The idea is to start with a basic combination of castile soap(unscented), mix in a nice strong herbal infusion of your choice, and then add extras as needed. The herbs can address oily coats, dry skin, itchiness, sensitivity and of course, normal skin/coat. The basic recipe is:

1-2 Tbsps dried herb (depending on how strong you want it) and 8 ounces boiling water

3 ounces castile soap (unscented)

You will need a clean Mason jar or other container to combine the infusion and the soap. All you do is, place your herbal mixture (or single herb) in a clean container such as a Mason jar, cover with 8 ounces boiling water, and let it infuse for at least 2 and preferably four hours. Strain well, and mix with the soap. You can use as is, or add any of the following:

– 1/8 – 1/4 tsp of the following oils: jojoba, borage, meadowfoam, rosehipseed, arjan, olive, sesame, hazelnut or pomegranate.

– 1 – 3 Tbsps aloe vera juice

–  1-2 Tbsps apple cider vinegar

1-2   capsules pure Vitamin E oil

and that’s it! you have enough shampoo for several washings, depending on the size of your dog. Store in the fridge and use.

For more information about selecting oils, check  here: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/catalog/ingredients/oils

I use jojoba or meadowfoam  as an allround addition or for oily coat;  borage with inflammation, argan with dry skin and pomegranate with itch and  pruritis. you can lso skip the oil altogether and just add Vitamin E.

So, all we need to do now is select herbs; here is a list of my favorites, and how to use them. 🙂

For Dry Skin: Elderflower, burdock root, calendula, mallow root, lavender and licorice

For an Oily coat: Rose petal, peppermint, raspberry leaf, lemongrass, yarrow, stinging nettle

For Itchy dogs: First, test a little infusion on tummy overnight! I like calendula here, with mallow and rose, plantain is great, or plain chamomile is lovely

For Normal skin and coat: Here I seek to balance astringents like rose and yarrow with demulcents, licorice, mallow, or I often just use self heal with calendula. Consider linden and basil as well

Inflammation: Monarda, mallow root and leaf, rose, plantain, white sage

This is a mix and match approach, further down the road I will share some recipes I’ve developed specifically for my own and clients’ dogs. For now, have fun, enjoy, and don’t forget to let me know what you tried.


An assortment of my own favorites; calendula, rose, mallowroot, selfheal, stinging nettle, chamomile, white sage and burdock root.