We've made it to Lesson 6 -The last article in the series on finding a safe and non-toxic dog shampoo.
To see what we've learned, let's review the past 5 lessons.
Lesson 1: We learned about greenwashing - marketing a product as all natural when it is not to justify a higher price or to con the consumer into purchasing it. We also learned that a common practice of greenwashed pet products is to be vague with ingredients or to leave the list of ingredients off the label entirely.
Lesson 2: We took a deep dive into preservatives and saw that many "natural" manufacturers use formaldehyde, isothiazolinones, or parabens. These preservatives are often linked to allergies, neurotoxicities, hormone disruption, and cancer. A truly natural shampoo will have rosemary extract, a high quality grapefruit extract, or a high quality Vitamin E derivative called Tocopherol.
Lesson 3: We learned why a true natural dog shampoo is not mega sudsy, bubbly, or packed with mega lather by looking at the sulfates which are commonly disguised as “coconut based cleaners”, “naturally derived from coconuts”, “vegetable based cleaners”, or “coconut based surfactants”. In this lesson we looked at byproducts that may be in our dog's shampoo, byproducts that have been linked to cancer and environmental contamination.
Lesson 4: We sat down for TEA with our dog to explore ethanolamines - the ingredients that can cause allergic reactions and can break down into nitrosamines, a class of chemicals that are thought to be carcinogenic, have reproductive toxicity, developmental toxicity, and organ system toxicity.
Lesson 5: We learned about the dangers of artificial color and fragrance in pet grooming products - their links to contamination, byproducts, allergies, reproductive toxicity, developmental toxicity, hormone disruption, and cancer.
In this final lesson, we are going to channel our inner bloodhounds to examine a shampoo without looking at the ingredient label.
- What color is it? If the shampoo is bright pink, blue, red, orange, (insert your favorite color here), it likely has an artificial color. A true natural dog shampoo is more the color of olive oil - sometimes darker or lighter. If it has hemp, it will tend to be more on the green side.
- What does it smell like? You opened the cap and thought, "Wow. That smells like coconut sun screen!" You are shopping online and you read that it had a strong cherry-almond smell. All of these are signals telling you it has artificial fragrance. Your dog shampoo doesn't naturally smell like a bouquet of flowers.
- Is it viscous (thick)? If yes, It likely has a synthetic thickening agent in it and should be avoided. Thickening agents can cause skin irritation, allergies, and if contaminated with byproducts can be linked to cancer and other health problems. Guar gum is a vegetable based thickener that organic manufacturers can use to make a product more viscous; but, when you use it the product doesn’t lather. So, you trade off one for the other.
- It has a "sheen" to it. You open the cap and take a peek inside the bottle and you see a sort of milky "sheen" to the shampoo. This is a sure sign that the ingredients contain sulfates.
- I see bubbles! In pictures and just looking in the bottle you see bubbles in the shampoo. More signals that the shampoo has sulfates.
- Reviews comment on how much it lathers! Natural dog shampoo will lather, so long as it doesn't contain guar gum; but, there is a big difference between the lathering action of a natural shampoo and one that has sulfates or ethanolamines. Just remember that the big lather comes at a high health cost.
Why is this important? The statistics are staggering - 5% of all cancer cases in dogs are hereditary and the remaining 95% are caused by lifestyle or environmental factors. DogsNaturallyMagazine reported that cancer is the primary cause of death in dogs over the age of two years. Minimizing our dog’s exposure to environmental factors is critical.
Consider this: Your dog's skin is 3-5 cells thick compared to yours which is 10-15 cells thick. Environmental toxins literally have less skin to get through to get to vital organs where they can cause damage. This is especially true if your shampoo contains ingredients that increase skin penetration like polyethylene glycol (PEG) or alcohol.
Buying a natural dog shampoo isn't easy these days. Manufacturers have learned that adding the word “natural” to dog grooming product labels equals increased sales and higher prices. Use our infographic to help make smart decisions for you and your dog and check out our blog for information on ingredients in your dog's grooming products.
4-Legger was "born" after one of 4-Legger's founders lost her dog to cancer on the same day she was diagnosed with cancer. Our mission is to create pet products that ARE natural, safe, and non-toxic and to serve as an educational voice for pets on the safety of grooming products.
We develop certified organic pet products that you can trust! Buy a safe product for your pet today off the 4-Legger website.