Lesson 5: Beware of the Dangers from Colors & Fragrances in Your Dog's Shampoo

You just bought a shampoo for your dog and you can't wait to get home so you can give it a try on your unsuspecting dog.

The coconut scent reminds you of laying on the beach, reinforced with it's ocean blue color.

Ok, the fantasy is over and it is time to look at the reality of that new dog shampoo. 

Let's first look at the scent since that's what first captured your imagination. The ingredient list says "Fragrance". What does that tell you? 

Fragrance = NOT natural
If you see the word “fragrance" on the ingredient label or it gives off a strong scent in the absence of essential oils, it is very likely that pthalates are present in your shampoo. Phthalates are used to bond the fragrance to the other ingredients. They are also known as "hormone disruptors" meaning they can wreak havoc on your dog's endocrine system. The fragrance itself is likely made of hundreds to thousands of separate ingredients many of which have been linked to cancer as well as reproductive and developmental toxicity. 

Synthetic Colors: A Rainbow of Toxicities
That blue color is from a synthetic dye added to your dog's shampoo to catch your eye and your imagination. It works. 

Synthetic dyes are not pure chemicals. They likely contain impurities from the manufacturing process. If the manufacturer of the dye is willing to pay to clean the contaminates out of the formulation - that dye will cost a lot of money and will likely be for higher end human grade products - not your dog's grooming products. 

Most manufacturers don't even list the color on the ingredient list anymore making you think that it is "all natural".  The only thing natural about these dyes is they started as petroleum but after going through the manufacturing process, they no longer resemble their original self. If colors are listed, you can look for the color with a number after it - like "Blue #5".

Many of the currently approved for use dyes raise health concerns that range from organ damage, cancer, birth defects, and allergic reactions. Many environmental groups petition the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the use of artificial colors in human pharmaceuticals. Do you want to use that on your dog?  In addition, unless you're wearing gloves to bathe your dog, these risks apply to you as well since these synthetic ingredients can be absorbed through your skin too.

Why Is Color & Fragrance A Big Deal? 

  1. Research has established that artificial fragrance and colors are THE most common cause of allergic reactions in humans. Why not dogs? The research hasn't been done but it stands to reason.
  2. Synthetic ingredients have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer and reproductive and developmental toxicity.
  3. You may not see an immediate change in your dog's skin from using a product with an artificial color or fragrance and blow off the health concerns. You will wake up when your dog's skin becomes infected, is itching/scratching, has an obvious infection, or is diagnosed with cancer or some other serious health condition.
  4. Your dog's skin - its largest organ - protects your dog from injury, disease, and damage. It is also thinner and more sensitive than your skin!  Your dog's epidermis (skin) is 3-5 cells thick compared to yours which is at least 10-15 cells thick. What does that mean? Those toxic chemicals will impact them more and faster than you. 

Why Buy Certified Organic Grooming Products? 
Certified organic products take on the color of the product based upon its beneficial formulation. For example, the 4-Legger balm for dry nose and paw pads is green in color due to the presence of hemp oil. The hemp oil is used for its excellent moisturizing abilities and happens to be green. 

When you buy a certified organic product, you know it IS natural!