Saving the environment and your money are nice benefits, but treating your best friend to a soothing soak that leaves him looking and feeling fantastic is the real reward of making your dog's shampoo at home. Simple ingredients prevent dryness and damage, as well as exposure to chemicals commonly found in commercial preparations, while moisturizers make your dog's fur silky and radiant.
In order to moisturize, rather than dry, a homemade shampoo must balance with your dog's natural pH level. The exact level varies among dogs, but is normally between 6 and 8.5. Ingredients with lower pH levels are acidic, like lemon juice and vinegar, which are between 2 and 2.2. Those with higher pH levels, like baking soda at 8.3, are alkaline. Water is neutral at 7. A good shampoo should have a balance of acidic and alkaline ingredients in a neutral base.
Fatty Oils and Butters
Oils and butters, like coconut and jojoba oil, or shea and cocoa butter, add moisture to your dog's fur. They can be blended in to a basic shampoo mixture in small amounts. The fats penetrate the hair shaft and saturate dry follicles. This extra moisture makes your dog's hair soft, shiny and easier to groom. Other oils that can be added to dog shampoo include avocado, olive, neem and castor oils. Beeswax can also be used in place of an oil or butter.
Herbs and Essential Oils
A few drops of lavender or chamomile added to a homemade shampoo can stop itching and keep your dog's fur looking healthy. These essential oils can even brighten light colors and make dark fur look richer.
Rosemary water conditions fur, adding moisture and shine. Make rosemary water by boiling fresh leaves in water, letting it cool and then straining out the leaves. Add the water to the shampoo or use it as a separate rinse after shampooing.
Mix up a basic dog shampoo recipe, and then add moisturizing ingredients as desired. Combine 3 tablespoons unscented liquid or grated castile soap, 4 cups hot water and 1 cup vinegar. This basic mixture has a pH of about 8. Add 1 tablespoon of a fatty oil or butter, or two drops of essential oil. Substitute rosemary water for the hot water for extra conditioning. Store in a cool dark place, and shake well before each use.