With the weather warming up (finally!) and the humidity rising here in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, one of the “evils” we have to deal with is the pesky bugs: mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and flies! Years ago, when I started making and selling soap, I had many come to me asking if I made a dog shampoo or soap. So, I thought: “We humans get to enjoy all the luxury and benefits of handmade soap, why not the canine members of our family, too?”
So, after MUCH research, formulating and tweaking, I formulated a doggie soap and it has been a great seller, especially in the warmer months for over 4 years! I have used the same recipe now for those 4 years, because it has been a nice soap and a great selling product for me. But when I decided to share the recipe and write this tutorial for Amanda and The Soap Collaborative, I took a long look at my recipe and decided I could make it better! After all, I have learned so much more about oils properties and benefits and soapmaking in the last several years.
I continued researching all my soapmaking oils, essential oils and additives and played with my recipe in SoapCalc over and over to tweak my recipe to be fabulous for dog’s skin and coat as well as hopefully help to keep some of the bothersome pests away from man’s (and woman’s) best friend! I will warn you first: Neem Oil has a very strong “nutty/garlicky” smell, but do not let that scare you away from making this one! The scent combines well with the essential oil blend below and it WILL mellow out as the soap cures!
I hope you enjoy my tutorial as I walk you through my recipe. The pictures will be illustrating the making of a 5 pound loaf of soap, BUT the recipe listed here will make approximately a 2.5 pound batch.
(Note: This tutorial was originally published in issue 17 of Soap Collaborative and is being re-published here with Tricia’s permission. Get the full issue here. All proceeds go to Lovin Soap Project!)
Dog Soap Recipe by Tricia Hoffman
- 164 grams Pomace Olive Oil (20%)
- 164 grams Babassu Oil (20%)
- 164 grams Shea Butter (20%)
- 82 grams Castor Oil (10%)
- 82 grams Emu Oil (10%)
- 82 grams Neem Oil (10%)
- 82 grams Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil Flakes (10%)
- 279 grams Distilled Water
- 110 grams Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)
- A Pinch of Tussah Silk
- 10.5 grams Colloidal Oatmeal
Essential Oil Blend
- 3.5 grams Lavender EO
- 3.5 grams Cedarwood EO
- 3.5 grams Lemongrass EO
- 3.5 grams Juniper EO
- 3.5 grams Peppermint EO
- 3.5 grams Eucalyptus Radiata EO
- 3.5 grams Rosemary EO (omit this Essential Oil IF your dog is prone to seizures or has epilepsy)
Let’s make soap!
Safety First! Gather your safety/protective gear: apron, goggles, gloves, and mask (worn while mixing your lye water).
Gather all your ingredients.
Measure your lye and water into two separate containers. With scissors, cut up your Tussah Silk into small pieces and sprinkle onto the top of your water. Then add your lye slowly and carefully to the water and silk. Stir gently, and the silk will dissolve as the lye water heats up. Set this aside to cool.
While the lye is cooling, measure out all your hard oils/butters and melt them (microwave, stove top, double boiler: it makes no difference!).
While these are melting, measure your liquid oils into a container. Measure your colloidal oatmeal into another container and mix your essential oils in a small beaker or cup.
Add your liquid oils to your melted oils/butters and stir.
Add the colloidal oatmeal to your oils and stick blend until smooth and no clump of oatmeal powder can be seen.
Because I am not worrying about being “fancy” with color or swirls, I then blend in my essential oils.
Once the Lye Water has cooled somewhat (mine was around 105 degrees F), slowly add your lye water to your Oil/Oatmeal/EO mix and stick blend to a medium trace. (This recipe, with the EO’s added before the lye, took a few minutes of stick blending to reach a medium trace consistency).
Pour your soap batter into your mold, smooth out the top and/or texture the top as desired with a skewer, spoon or other utensil.
Put your soap “to bed”. (I do not cover or insulate my soap, but to sometimes to avoid soda ash, I spritz the top of the soap with 90% Isopropyl Alcohol)
After about 24 hours, unmold and cut your soap!
Allow to cure for at least 4 weeks for a nice hard bar!
Enjoy Bath time with your pooch!
NOTE: Do not use this soap with felines or other small animals, as they tend to be much more sensitive to essential oils.
NOTE from Amanda: I recommend that you perform your own research on ingredients, especially essential oils, that you want to use in pet products. Consult your vet before using products that you formulate on your pets.
Some resources include:
NAHA (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) – www.naha.org
The Holistic Animal Association – www.holisticanimalassociation.com – Read this article
Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell
Some properties of the oils and EO’s I have chosen:
- Neem Oil: Promotes a shiny coat. Wonderful for skin and soothes hot spots. May help with mange mites and ringworm. Also a natural repellent of fleas, ticks, mites, and other biting insects.
- Emu Oil: Full of Omega 3, 6, and 9 Fatty Acids to help maintain a healthy skin and coat. Also great for irritated, dry, itchy skin and hot spots.
- Babassu Oil: Similar to coconut oil, but with more emollient properties and great for itchy skin. Also helps produce a fluffy lather.
- Shea Butter: Very moisturizing and is said to have *some* protective properties against sun.
- Olive Oil: Moisturizing and conditioning for the skin.
- Castor Oil: Conditioning to the skin, adds to lather and is a lather stabilizer.
- Palm Kernel Oil: Helps produce a hard bar and fluffy lather.
- Colloidal Oatmeal: Is a natural skin protectant, soothes itching from bug bites, poison ivy, hot spots and irritated skin.
- Lavender EO: Soothing for the skin and repels insects.
- Cedarwood EO: Repels fleas and is conditioning for the skin and coat.
- Lemongrass EO: Calming and repels insects.
- Eucalyptus Radiata EO: Repels insects.
- Rosemary EO: Repels ticks (DO NOT use with dogs who are prone to seizures or have epilepsy).
About Tricia Hoffman of Scentability
Tricia Hoffman is owner and creator of Scentability. A Registered Nurse by training, she “retired” from her nursing career to focus on growing and nurturing Scentability. Her storefront Scentability & Friends is located in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. She has three beautiful kids: 11 year-old twins: Patrick and Andrew, and 8 year-old, Mikey.
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Dog Equipment and accessories known as Dog Wheel Chair.
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Dog owner provide your dog the best comfort of their life by providing Pet wheel chair.
Wow there is a lot of conflicting information here. But I certainly appreciated reading it all. I have six dogs and I live in a hot summer climate – Turkey – so unfortunately they are plagued with ticks. The usual chemical treatments that we used when we lived in the UK are not working effectively so I am seeking natural alternatives. I agree with all of you that a dog should not be bathed very often. I take it that dAoes not include swimming in the sea or a river as I live by the sea and three of my dogs love to cool off with a swim. I can only use common sense here and nothing scientific but I would have thought bathing with this soap recipe is not going to do the anymore harm than the harsh chemicals in conventional flea and tick treatment. Also if your dog rolls in animal poo – fox, cow, goat etc surely you would bath them? As far as the oatmeal goes I agree dogs and not meant to eat grain but I cannot see how putting it in the soap can have the same effect as digesting it. I will be giving this a try but I am a but certainly not with any palm oil products. I am sorry but come on guys if you are into making home made soaps you must are about the environment and palm oil products should be boycotted in my opinion.
I did use sustainably raised organic palm and Palm kernal oils which are from South America, not orangutan habitat.
The soap looks awesome, I made it but it was so surprising-I never made a soap that did not require the stick blender. I worked at around 95 degrees F, the minute the lye solution hit the oil it was almost done, I whisked it gently, added the essential oils and it was quite thick and I poured it as it continued to get thick. 20% shea butter may be one reason, I refrigerated because it was late and I was afraid this loaf would overheat, took it out next day and it went through a partial gel. It looks great.
Is there any reason I couldnt use this on my cat if I just leave out the essential oils completely?
Thanks for posting your doggie shampoo recipe. I’m looking forward to trying it. ….. especially after my kelpies have rolled in the chook poo!!
I made a soap for people with ezcema using all those oils that are said to alleviate itchy and inflamed skin including, almond oil,jojoba oil,hemp oil, carrot seed oil, calendula oil and pine tar. It didn’t smell too good but I offered it to a friend of mine whose dog had really bad ezcema and the shampoo the vet gave her made the dog even worse!
She said it was the only thing that stopped the dog scratching and crying and gave her any relief at all.
Thanks for sharing!! I’d like to try this recipe but I don’t like to use palm oil- what would you suggest a good substitute would be?
Carly, there’s no Palm Oil in the recipe.
oh sorry yes, palm kernel flakes, missed it. I couldn’t delete my comment
I would actually just use more olive oil in it. 🙂
The posting of the recipe is appreciated. However, it is important to remember that dogs and people are different species with different needs. As was pointed out by a veterinarian, using colloidal oatmeal in a dog shampoo recipe is not a good idea since 85% of dogs with allergies, are allergic to grains, of which oats is one. So colloidal oatmeal should never be used in a dog shampoo recipe.
Also, let’s remember that dogs really should not be shampooed at all. Dogs’ skin does not recover from the different pH a soap brings the way people’s skin does.
I used gluten free oatmeal. Some oatmeal isn’t completely grain free from contamination in processing. I made my own colloidal oatmeal. Oatmeal is not a grain, my friend with celiac as any person who can’t eat grains (gluten) can as well as dogs like my daughter’s who has celiac. Dogs benefit from being cleaned of all their dead skin and sweat now and then which a slightly higher pH does help, not as often as people, however. Cold process soap has a lower pH than shampoo as low as 8 versus store bought, around 10.5.
Actually, oats are a grain – a cereal grain to be more exact. And it is not about the gluten aspect, but about the fact that most dogs with allergies are allergic to grains in general. Dogs are not meant to have anything to do with grain which is why so many ailments that dogs suffer from such as skin allergies, chronic ear infections, etc., often clear up when the dog is switched to a quality grain-free food. So using oatmeal in a dog shampoo bar, including colloidal oatmeal, is not a good idea.
Regarding dogs being cleaned of dead skin and sweat… Firstly, dogs do not sweat through any part of their body that has fur growing on it. They sweat through their noses, tongues, and paws. As far as needing to be “cleaned” of their dead skin cells, a good brushing once/ week does that beautifully. But if one still insists on bathing a dog, just use a mild, handcrafted shampoo or soap bar that does not have any oatmeal in it, and don’t bathe the dog often, certainly no more than 1-2 times per year.
Enjoy your wonderful canines, everyone!
I think dogs feet which sweat could use a good bubbly soak now and then, they can really stink. I’m not convinced oatmeal is bad for dogs topically, many things great for skin types aren’t good to eat. So I am willing to give this soap a try, its so full of good stuff for dog hide. No one should bathe a dog too often I totally agree, brushing is very good for them.
I’m not going to lie. I’m disappointed that this is even a suggested recipe. Canine epidermis is highly reliant on maintaining a ph of 6.5-7.5 depending on age, breed, & sex. Soap disrupts this balance leaving Fido suseptable to yeast, bacteria, & sensitivity.
What is the ph for this dog soap?