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Is Your Dog Shampoo Really Hypoallergenic?

April 01, 2016

Is Your Dog Shampoo Really Hypoallergenic?

Allergies are one of the biggest causes of chronic disease, affecting millions of dogs. Your dog may be immediately allergic to an ingredient or it may take repeat exposure over time for an allergy to develop.  Once your dog is sensitized (or allergic), their immune system will remember that ingredient and continue to be allergic to it. If you have a dog with allergies, you probably look for products that are labeled "Hypoallergenic". 

What does "hypoallergenic" really mean in relation to your dog? A "hypoallergenic dog" refers to certain breeds of dogs that are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to dogs. 

Hypo means "below" or "beneath".  It doesn't mean "none" or "no". That is an important distinction.

If a manufacturer says that their pet grooming product is hypoallergenic, it means they are claiming their product is less likely to cause allergic reactions than other products. There are no standards or laws that regulate the term. In 1975, the FDA tried to publish regulations that would define what the terms means; but was unable to get the regulation published. 

There is also no guarantee that just because something is labeled hypoallergenic it won't cause an allergic reaction as such a claim is impossible to make since every dog is different. There are however ingredients that are linked to skin sensitivities, skin irritation, and allergies. 

When we saw a dog shampoo + conditioner advertised as "hypoallergenic" and it contained the following ingredients we had to dig a little deeper!

Contains deionized water, surfactant blend derived from natural derivatives (coconut shampoo base), organic aloe vera extract, organic almond oil, hydrolyzed oat proteins, Vitamins A, D, and E, glycerin, (soothes the skin), glyceryl stearate (emulsifies, makes foam, conditions), wheat germ glycerides, blend of cherry botanical extracts, EGDA (conditioner), EDTA (aids ingredients in blending), proprietary blend of coat and skin conditioners and moisturizers, DMDH hydantoin (preservative).

Above, we highlighted everything in this formulation that has known links to allergies.

  • Coconut based derivative is usually cocamidopropyl betaine - synthetic surfactants that are known to be associated with irritation and allergic reactions on the skin. 
  • Artificial colors and fragrances have links to allergies as well as cancer, hormone disruption, and organ system toxicities. 
  • Without knowing "what" the proprietary blend of coat and skin conditioners are - it is difficult to evaluate. Often, these may be a blend of polysorbate 20, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and methylisothiazolinone.  While polysorbate 20 isn't linked to allergies, it is linked to organ system toxicity. Both methylchloroisothiazolinone, and methylisothiazolinone are linked to skin irritation and allergies. Worse, they can break down into nitrosamides - which have strong links to cancer and additionally, they are not environmentally friendly ingredients. 
  • DMDH is a synonym for DMDM hydantoin - a slow releasing form of formaldehyde. It has links to skin irritation as well as cancer. 

    4-Legger Unscented and Hypoallergenic Certified Organic Dog Shampoo Clearly, we disagree with the statement this manufacturer made when they said their product is hypoallergenic. Many of the ingredients in their formulation have known links to skin reactions and allergies in both people and dogs!  

    This is another example where the lack of regulations in the pet grooming industry and guidelines for ingredient purity and integrity in marketing have a negative impact on your pocketbook by wasting your money. 

    How can you find a true hypoallergenic dog shampoo?

    4-Legger dog shampoos are hypoallergenic. They are made using certified organic saponified oils - the most gentle and truly hypoallergenic ingredients you can use for the base of dog shampoo.

    4-Legger also meets the National Organic Program certified organic standard giving you the added assurance that our products do not contain any of the synthetic ingredients commonly associated with skin irritation and allergies. 

    If you have a dog with allergies, we can sympathize with your quest for a truly mild and gentle option.

    Our unscented hypoallergenic dog shampoo was made for you - with minimal ingredients (saponified oils of coconut, olive, and jojoba, aloe vera, and rosemary extract) for your sensitive skin and allergy prone dog. 

    For people who are well-educated in the proper use of essential oils, you can add your own essential oils to help your furry family member with their specific sensitivity!  We do not recommend this unless you have specialized knowledge in the use and administration of essential oils.  Pure, undiluted essential oils should never be used directly on your pet.

    Want the fresh lemongrass essential oils? Our organic dog shampoo with lemongrass and aloe is hypoallergenic and it smells amazing! 




    1 Response

    Gary Rokuta
    Gary Rokuta

    April 21, 2016

    From Julia of Dogs Naturally Magazine, to Melissa, who spearheaded this research on the ingredients of shampoos, I personally thank you great unselfish guardians of Dogs and enthusiasts of truly healthy dogs’ essential needs, as most are ALL about $$$$ and could care less about our furry companions’ future and HEALTH. If money is their main focus, then they should DROWN in it, . . .

    Leave a comment


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