your guide to finding the best organic dog shampoo

Your Guide to Organic Dog Shampoo

Whether your dog has sensitive skin, allergies, or you're simply looking to minimize their exposure to harsh chemicals, organic dog shampoo could be the natural solution you've been searching for.

The phrase “organic dog shampoo” leaves you with a lot of questions: 

  • How natural is it? 
  • Is it really organic? 
  • How can you identify an organic dog shampoo?
  • What sets organic dog shampoo apart from traditional dog shampoo?
  • How do you choose the right organic shampoo for your dog? 

In this guide to organic dog shampoo, we'll delve into the world of chemical-free, plant-based cleansing for your canine companion.

From the benefits of organic ingredients to understanding what to look for on the label, we've got all the information you need to make an informed decision for your dog's grooming routine.

Join us as we explore the ins and outs of organic dog shampoo and embark on a journey towards a healthier, happier dog.

How Can You Identify A True Organic Dog Shampoo? 

Before we dive into what organic dog shampoo is and how it is different from traditional dog shampoo, we need to learn how to identify organic dog shampoo.

Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as picking up a bottle and searching for the phrase "organic dog shampoo". 

It is very important to understand there are no manufacturer regulations in the pet grooming products industry for marketing, safety, or purity of products.

Furthermore, the USDA National Organic Program does not "police" the use of the word "organic" unless you make certified organic products. 

Let me say that again ...

the USDA National Organic Program ONLY regulates the use of the word "organic" if you manufacture organic products.

This means any manufacturer can use the phrase "organic dog shampoo" on the bottle knowing full well the product is not certified to organic standards. 

Why would they do that?

To make money. Even worse, at the probable expense of the health of your dog.

Pet parents are more likely to buy a product if the phrase "organic dog shampoo" or "natural dog shampoo" appears on the bottle. 

It gets even more confusing...there are 2 different organic standards the USDA National Organic Program administers that is possible for dog shampoo to achieve.

If you DO manufacture a dog shampoo certified to USDA Organic standards, you can only display the words "organic dog shampoo" on the front of the bottle AND the USDA Seal is also present.  This is commonly referred to as the “Seal standard”. It is the highest of the 2 standards possible and it is extremely rare and difficult to achieve.

If a dog shampoo is Certified to Organic Food Standards, you can say it is made with organic ingredients on the front of the label and then identify those ingredients. This is the 2nd possible standard and is commonly referred to as the “human grade” standard. This standard will not bear the USDA Seal, but it is still a certified organic product and approved through the USDA National Organic Program.

If a manufacturer does not make a true organic product, they can legally market their product as organic dog shampoo when it it is not, nor even could be certified to any organic standards. In other words, they can say whatever they want to say without recourse, in order to get you to buy their product.

Confused yet?

Let's put it simply ... any dog shampoo can have the phrase "organic dog shampoo" on the bottle but if it doesn't also have this statement on the side panel of the bottle "Certified to USDA Organic Standards", it is NOT organic. This statement is required by the National Organic Program to be on the label of every product they have approved and certified regardless of which standard has been met.  No exceptions.

So, instead of looking at the front label of the bottle, look at the side panel for the statement "Certified to USDA Organic Standards" and the full list of ingredients (we'll talk about that next). 

What Is Organic Dog Shampoo?

Organic dog shampoo is formulated using real plants that are minimally processed.

The USDA maintains a list of non-plant substances allowed as ingredients in or on products labeled as "organic" or "made with organic (specified ingredients).  If your dog's shampoo contains a synthetic ingredient that is not one of the 37 allowed by the USDA, then the shampoo is NOT organic and would be rejected from certification by the National Organic Program.

Only dog shampoo that is

made with saponified organic oils can be certified to USDA organic standards. This eliminates ALL detergent-based shampoos which are by far more common.

All other pet shampoos contain ingredients that are not allowed in the product and therefore cannot be approved as organic. To put this in numbers, only 1-2 out of every 100 different formulations of dog shampoo is actually certified to USDA organic standards. Unless you become an expert at knowing what to look for on the label (described above), odds are greatly against the likelihood of choosing a true, organic shampoo.

Benefits of using Organic Dog Shampoo

The benefits of using organic dog shampoo are numerous and impactful.

Organic pet shampoos are gentle on your dog's skin, making them suitable for dogs with allergies or sensitive skin.

The natural ingredients in organic shampoos help soothe and moisturize your dog's skin, promoting a healthy and natural coat.

Additionally, organic dog shampoos are free from harsh chemicals, making them safe for regular use while reducing the risk of skin irritations or adverse reactions.

By choosing organic dog shampoo, you're not only caring for your dog's well-being but also contributing to a healthier environment.

Organic dog shampoos are made with real plants, not synthetic chemicals. 

The ingredients selected by 4-Legger are grown and harvested sustainably and farmers are paid a living wage.

These shampoos are designed to cleanse and nourish your dog's coat and skin without exposing them to potentially irritating or toxic substances.  

Organic shampoos regulated by the USDA National Organic program ensure that no pesticides, herbicides or insecticides have been used within a 3 mile radius of an organic crop.

Common harmful ingredients in non-organic dog shampoos

Many non-organic dog shampoos contain ingredients that can be harmful to your dog's health and are in fact creating exposures of your dog to environmental toxins.

These may include artificial fragrances, sulfates, parabens, and phthalates, which can cause skin irritation, allergies, hormone disruption, and other health issues.

Moreover, some non-organic shampoos may contain harsh detergents that strip the natural oils from your dog's skin, leading to dryness and discomfort.

Some dog shampoos even contain ingredients that are derived from formaldehyde which has links to cancer.

By avoiding these and many other harmful ingredients while opting for true, organic dog shampoo, you can protect your dog from potential long term health risks and ensure that their grooming experience is as safe and gentle as possible.

You can use the Pet Shampoo Ingredient Database to look up the ingredients in your shampoo or ones you are considering to determine if those are ingredients you really want on your dog. 

Tips for Bathing your Dog with Organic Shampoo

Bathing your dog with organic shampoo requires a few considerations to ensure a beneficial and effective experience.

  1. Start by thoroughly brushing your dog to remove any tangles or mats. This will also help in the even distribution of the shampoo.
  2. Next, wet your dog's coat thoroughly with lukewarm water, avoiding the ears and eyes.
  3. Apply the organic shampoo, massaging it gently into the coat and skin. It’s naturally concentrated so you only need a little bit of shampoo and a lot of water to get a great lather.Many pet parents like to use a foamer bottle with organic shampoo as the consistency is very thin. This naturally transforms the shampoo into a foam like shaving cream, making it super easy to apply.
  4. Rinse your dog thoroughly. If you are transitioning from a traditional dog shampoo to a true organic shampoo, your dog may have a waxy residue on their coat when you rinse making the coat feel different. This doesn’t always happen but if it does, it is normal and part of transitioning to a true natural dog shampoo. It’s not the organic shampoo causing this reaction.  Rather, it is the synthetic ingredients from the previous traditional shampoo binding to the oils in the organic shampoo effectively revealing the amount of synthetics that have built up on your dog’s coat and you were not even aware of it! After the build-up of synthetics are off your dog's coat, this will go away. For most that experience this transition, a couple of baths with organic shampoo will clean that mess off.  Stick with it! 
  5. Using a wash cloth, clean your dog's face and around their ears, being careful to avoid getting shampoo in the ears or eyes. It’s not harmful (unlike traditional shampoo can be), it just doesn’t feel very good.  You’ve probably experienced it yourself at some point in the shower.  Your dog is no different.
  6. Dry your dog with a towel or a hairdryer on a warm and low airflow setting. 

How to Choose the Best Organic Dog Shampoo

We already talked about how you can find a true organic dog shampoo by looking for the phrase "Certified to USDA Organic Standards" on the bottle label.

Next, it is essential to consider your dog's specific needs and preferences. 

Different dog breeds and skin conditions may require specialized organic dog shampoos.

Understanding the specific requirements of your dog's breed and skin condition will help you choose the most suitable organic shampoo for their individual needs.

natural dog shampoo selector

4-Legger is a trusted brand that offers a wide range of dog shampoos and all of them are certified to organic standards by the USDA National Organic Program.

You can use the "Problem Type" filter on the shampoo page of the 4-Legger website to search for products that will help with specific issues or use the filter "none" if your pup has no skin issues.

If your dog has yeasty skin, you should take a look at our tea tree dog shampoo - a natural alternative to medicated dog shampoo. 

Sensitive Skin? Check out all of our hypoallergenic dog shampoo options.

Looking for a natural flea dog shampoo? We can help with that too! 

Dry skin? Our oatmeal dog shampoo, lemongrass dog shampoo, and hemp dog shampoo are outstanding to help with dry and itchy skin!

Making the switch to 4-Legger organic dog shampoo is a step towards providing your dog with the highest quality grooming experience.

All of our shampoos are crafted with carefully selected ingredients that have been grown and harvested according to the requirements of the National Organic Program, and are free from artificial or synthetic fragrances, sulfates, and preservatives.

By choosing 4-Legger, you can be confident that you are using a safe, effective, and environmentally conscious product for your dog's bathing routine while contributing to your dog’s long term health!


This comprehensive guide to organic dog shampoo emphasizes the importance of choosing the right grooming products for our furry family members and why a true organic dog shampoo is a safer option for your dog's long term health.

Navigating the world of organic dog shampoos can be challenging due to a lack of enforcement and misleading product labels.

The key takeaway is to look for products that are "Certified to USDA Organic Standards" to ensure authenticity. If you do’t see this statement on the label of a bottle that claims to be organic, put it back on the shelf.  It’s not organic.

Organic dog shampoos, made with minimally processed real plants and free from harmful chemicals, offer numerous benefits. They are gentle on the skin, help in maintaining a healthy coat, and are environmentally friendly.

By understanding the benefits of organic ingredients, the potential risks of non-organic shampoos, and how to select the best product for your dog, you can make informed decisions that prioritize your dog's health. Most grooming products unfortunately prioritize a “look” over health considerations. Whether you choose to make the switch to 4-Legger organic dog shampoo or explore other reputable brands, the goal remains the same – to provide your canine companion with a gentle, nourishing, and environmentally friendly bathing experience that supports their overall health and happiness.

The journey towards finding the best organic dog shampoo for your pet is not just about cleansing their coat – it's about promoting their holistic well-being and embracing a natural approach to pet care.

Next time you reach for that bottle of dog shampoo, consider the benefits of going organic and making a positive impact on your dog's grooming routine. After all, a healthy and happy dog makes for a contented and fulfilled pet parent.