Dish Soap As a Dog Shampoo?

Owner tries using a household cleaner when bathing her dogs.

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Q. I have five dogs, and I regularly give them all baths, cut toenails, clean ears, etc. There is a groomer in my area that uses Dawn dish soap to wash the dogs so this is what I have been using lately. I also read in a book that you should add a small amount of dish soap to your regular dog shampoo. Have you heard of using dish soap as a shampoo? If so, is it better to use pure soap or just a small amount added to your regular dog shampoo?

A. You have your work cut out for you, keeping all those dogs clean! I can tell you are a devoted dog owner. I must admit I am a bit surprised that a professional dog groomer would use a detergent made for washing dishes, pots, and pans to wash dogs. There are plenty of wonderful dog shampoos on the market that are safer and more effective than dish soap. Dawn is great at cutting grease and I have even recommended it in a pinch to make up a home remedy for de-skunking dogs, but over time, it will dry them out and it lacks the proper Ph balance for canine skin and coat.

Quality dog shampoos do not contain the harsh chemicals present in household cleaning products and will safely clean, moisturize, and add sheen to your dogs’ coats. There is no need to add anything to them. Their effectiveness is the result of careful research and formulation by their manufacturers.

It is not even cost-effective for your groomer to use this household product rather than quality pet shampoos on her canine clientele. If she ordered gallons of professional shampoos by the case from one of many distributors such as PetEdge of Topsfield, MA, www.petedge.com, she would save money. Maybe she could add a gallon for you to her order as well, marking up her wholesale price enough to make it worth her while. You would save money while doing what’s best for your dogs.

There are dog shampoos on the market that combat doggie odor, make white coats sparkle, condition dry coats, and make long hair tangle-free, strengthen damaged coats, soothe irritated skin, combat excessive shedding, preserve wiry texture in terrier coats, and treat sensitive pets that need a hypo-allergenic tearless product.

But do hang on to your Dawn detergent in case you should ever need it for an emergency de-skunking treatment! The home remedy is as follows: 
        1 quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide 
        1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 
        1 teaspoon Dawn dish detergent
Wet the dog and work the mixture through the coat. Leave lather on for about ten minutes, and then rinse thoroughly. Discard any leftover remedy as it becomes combustible when stored in a closed container.

Kathy Salzberg, NCMG, is a Certified Master Groomer and writer who has been grooming pets since 1976. With her daughter Missi, she owns The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass. She has also written extensively on pet care for several consumer magazines and authored three books on dogs and careers with pets. Kathy lives with her pets on Cape Cod.

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Torchy   Chicago, Illinois

11/27/2014 6:31:06 PM

A shot of Dawn, Joy, Ivory or Palmolive in a quart of warm water makes a good dog shampoo and kills fleas instantly, by the way. Dog groomers typically use it as a first bath to cut through the grease and dirt - especially on the feet/tail/ears/underline - then follow it up with a regular shampoo and a conditioner. Chances are excellent if you take your pooch to a grooming parlor your pooch is washed at least once, or in spots, with a solution of dishwashing liquid because it is safe and it works. And contrary to one poster saying it is not cost effective to do so, you can buy a gallon of concentrated Dawn at Sam's for less than $12 whereas the average gallon of decent dog shampoo starts at around $40.

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Darla   Portsmough, Virginia

11/16/2014 12:33:34 PM

Dawn is used in extreme cases when animals are covered in toxic grease and oil. Imagine the harm it does to a healthy animal's skin and coat that contain natural oils meant to keep the animal healthy.

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nobody i guess   fort wayne, Indiana

12/28/2013 5:50:22 PM

Seriously? I want everyone who thinks washing your dog with dawn dish soap(which is made for CUTTING GREASE) is such a good idea to go wash your hair and body right now with it. It would leave your skin extremely dry and probably make your hair snap off. It strips ALL the oil that dogs NEED in their fur and skin. They make dog shampoos for a reason. If you really care about your dog dont wash them with Dawn.

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Travis   Houston, Texas

12/4/2013 6:03:15 AM

It's best if you use dawn ultra I think it has a baby duck on the bottle it was used during the oil spill I own a kennel we use it all the time matter fact for years no concern.

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