Can I Use Dry Shampoo on My Dog?

Picture of a woman petting her dog

Dry shampoo can sometimes be a lifesaver for a person, especially if you’re running late and you don’t have time to wash it and dry it. But can it be the same for dogs? Does dry shampoo get rid of the dirt in Fido’s fur? Are there any risks involved?

We are answering all of these questions and more in today’s article, so keep on reading!

How Do Dry Shampoos Work?

Dry shampoos, whether for people or for our canine friends, work in the same way. They absorb a substance called sebum, which is secreted by the sebaceous glands in the scalp. This makes it easier for the product to remove part of the dirt and contaminants that might be in the hair, along with the oil.

Whenever you use dry shampoo, whether on your hair or Fido’s, you have to make sure that you brush it out. Doing so will ensure that the dirt is eliminated, but it will also remove some of the sebum in a homogenous way.

Are Human Dry Shampoos Safe for Dogs?

In a nutshell, no. Most of the dry shampoos that are currently available are made for human-specific pH, so they would create a significant imbalance on the surface of your dog’s skin. On top of that, human-grade dry shampoo options can often come in bottles that are pressurized and can also have a variety of ingredients (such as perfume) that can create additional problems.

We mentioned pressurized bottles both because they are bad for the environment and because they are known for scaring off many dogs with the sound they make. So that’s not going to be an experience you might look forward to in the future.

The only type of human shampoo that’s safer for dogs (but still not explicitly made for them) is baby shampoo, but as you know, it’s practically impossible to find a dry one.

Types of Waterless Dog Shampoos

When you think of ‘dry shampoo’, one of the first forms that can cross your mind is probably the powder type of shampoo for dogs. Well, there are other waterless options out there, and two of the most common ones (besides the powder one) are spray shampoos and foam shampoos.

In a way, foam shampoos are the best choice because they don’t just collect the oil and potentially affect the health of the dog’s skin, they also clean it gently and even nourish it if they have the right ingredients.

Aerosol shampoos are usually a no-go for the reasons that we have already mentioned, meaning that many dogs will be afraid of them.

There’s also the option of you getting wipes, which might not be as effective as shampoo on the whole, but they’re often safer since many of them are made with natural ingredients. Sooner or later, you will still have to give a bath to your pooch, whether you like it or not, since that is the most effective method of cleaning him or her properly.

But since the frequency of dog baths shouldn’t be higher than 1 per month or even one every couple of months, wipes and alternative forms of shampoos can be a solution.

Potentially Dangerous Ingredients in Dry Dog Shampoo

If you take the time to do a little research, you’ll see that the labels of most canine shampoos currently available are packed with ingredients that you don’t know what are for. Some of them can be contaminated, others have been linked to cancer, and there is also a number that can cause allergies.

Cocamide DEA, preservatives, artificial colors (Blue#1), artificial fragrances, and DMDM hydantoin (which is basically a form of formaldehyde) have all been linked to cancer cases in the past. Some ingredients can cause a variety of health issues, such as methyl paraben and ethyl paraben, which have been linked to anything from cancer to endocrine and reproductive issues.

Other ingredients are neurotoxic, such as methylisothiazolinone, and various can increase the chances of other ingredients to be absorbed into your dog’s body (they’re called absorption-increasing), such as ethanol or disodium EDTA.

As you can see, there are many substances that can be dangerous for your dog’s health in shampoos, whether they are dry or not. In fact, we’d argue that waterless shampoos can be even more dangerous as they often have more preservatives than the conventional ones.

What can you do? The best solution is to check the ingredients before you order a dog shampoo of any kind and make sure that they are all natural. By the way, some ingredients are made to ‘sound natural’, such as surfactants based on coconut or mild cleansing agents.

DIY Solutions

One of the easiest homemade dry shampoos for dogs that you can make yourself is one that you don’t even have to make at all. Use cornstarch or a small amount of a high-grade Fuller’s earth, and you’ll be able to absorb at least some part of the sebum and get rid of the dirt.

If you miss the scent of dog shampoo, you can always use doggy cologne (there are safe and specifically made products for this) and clean your pooch’s coat with cornstarch. It’s much safer than any other waterless dog shampoo, but your friend shouldn’t be sensitive to corn, of course.

Another recipe would be to mix 2 cups of baby powder or unscented talc powder with table salt and a very small amount (⅓ or ½ cup) of baking soda. Mix everything up in a container, and you’re done – you’ve effectively manufactured your own dry dog shampoo.



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