Dogs, like us, get skin problems depending on the weather, allergens in the air and grass, or various insect bites. Signs of discomfort may include persistent scratching or itching, biting or licking their paws, or picking at a particularly irritated or infected area called a hotspot.
Wouldn’t it be convenient to whip up or rinse your own custom batch of soothing shampoo in less than 30 minutes, depending on your dog’s ailments?
It may sound intimidating, but making a shampoo or rinse at home is doable for novice DIYers. And even more good news: most of the ingredients may already be in your pantry.
If you want a completely toxic-free wash, steer clear of ingredient lists with a dish soap or baby soap base, says Rita Hogan, a clinical canine herbalist based in Olympia, Washington. Those soaps are usually petroleum-based and can strip your dog’s coat of natural oils.
Rita says to look for ingredient lists that include apple cider vinegar (which adjusts pH levels for dogs), baking soda, castile soap, aloe vera gel, and glycerin.
Adding herbs to your water base (as if you were making tea), although not necessary, will allow you to tailor the shampoo to your dog’s skin.
Useful herbs for skin problems
Most dried herbs can be found on Amazon and/or your health food store. Rita recommends the following:
- Bird herb against itching
- Plantain or calendula for general troubled skin
- Marshmallow root for dry skin
- Neem leaf against fleas
- Chamomile for dandruff, dry skin or sensitivity
- Rosemary for cool skin and circulatory problems or alopecia.
Here Rita shows us how to make one of her basic rinses.
Ingredients and Supplies:
- 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
- 8 ounces water (option to add)
2 tablespoons dried herbs)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 ounces unscented castile soap,
like that of Dr. Bronner
- 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil. Other oils to use are hemp, neem, or an herbal infused oil like calendula
- Shampoo bottle or small glass jar bowl for mixing, a funnel and a spoon
- If using herbs, mix the 2 tablespoons of dried herbs in 8 ounces of nearly boiling water and let them steep for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool, but keep covered.
- Combine herbal infusion with the castile soap, jojoba oil (or other oil of your choice), apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera gel. Mix well.
- Pour into a half or half liter jar or shampoo bottle.
- Bath time! Store in the refrigerator for one to three weeks and shake well before use.
Hotspot Herbal Treatment Spray
- Boil a ¼ teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt in 8 ounces of water.
- Add 2 tablespoons of dried chickweed and plantain herbs and let it steep for about 20 minutes.
- Strain the herbs.
- Put your rinse in a spray bottle and mist it on the hot spot two to three times a day.
Bentonite clay mix
If the hotspot has pus, Rita recommends using a bentonite clay mixture, which has been shown to draw the pus out of the hotspot and help it heal, before using the herbal spray.
- Put a teaspoon of bentonite clay in a spray bottle with about 8 ounces of water.
- Shake well and stir with a plastic or wooden spoon (not metal).
- Leave it overnight. The clay sinks to the bottom.
- Miss it in the hot spot.
No time to work
Do you like the idea but not the doing? Check out these products:
Natural Dog Company skin pacifier† Starts at $14.95; naturaldogcompany.com
Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Hot Spot Spray for Pets† $23.99; vetericyn.com
Silver Honey Hot Spot & Wound Care Ointment† $26.19; absorbine.com