Homemade Dog Shampoo – A must have recipe for both dogs and cats

Many of the divas that come to SpaFromScratch have dog and/or cat buddies. Did you know that you can create an awesome spa day for your pet? Well, you can. It doesn’t make a bit of difference whether you believe a dog is one of the best friends you can have or if it’s a cat.

Either way, we want to show you how to create the perfect pet spa day. First, we went on a search for the very best homemade dog or cat shampoo to keep your best buddy clean and smelling fresh. However, that wasn’t the only criteria; we wanted to keep their skin healthy and their fur looking shiny. Next, we wanted to really make the day special for them.

Guess what? We found the perfect shampoo with rave reviews. We also found the music and scent to use to give your pet a great spa experience even if your pet doesn’t like a bath.

Step 1:  Play a soft classical music CD to keep your pet calm.

Step 2:  Spray or use a diffuser to impart a calming scent such as lavender in the bath and drying area. Be calm and don’t try and rush the experience. Make it a special time between you and your cat or dog.

Homemade dog shampoo recipe (for cats too) – basic


  • 2 cups Ivory dish soap
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup glycerin – I purchase Essential Vegetable Glycerin from Amazon. (Note: we make a penny or two if you click through on this link.) It is also available at your local health food stores.

Glycerin Vegetable Kosher USP - 1 Quart (43 oz.) Glycerin Vegetable Kosher USP – 1 Quart (43 oz.)
Mix all ingredients together and you’ve got the perfect homemade dog shampoo.

Use tepid warm water. Hot water can make your pet itchy. Avoid getting shampoo in your pet’s eyes and ears. Also, you might want to do a patch test on your pet first particularly if he or she is prone to allergies. (Keep in mind, when you do a patch test, you must thoroughly rinse the area where the shampoo is applied.) With this homemade dog shampoo, as with any other, it’s important to rinse your dog very well after bathing.

Homemade dog shampoo recipe (for cats too) – itchy skin

Some dogs have sensitive skins and are prone to allergies. If this happens to fit your dog’s description, try adding 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to the shampoo to soothe his irritated skin.

Colloidal oatmeal may be purchased or made at home.

To make colloidal oatmeal at home:

  • Put raw uncooked oats into a grinder or blender. A coffee grinder works well for this.
  • Grind the oats until they have the consistency of flour.

To make sure that the oats have been ground to the correct fineness, add a teaspoon of the ground oats to a glass of water and mix. The oats should absorb the water quickly giving it a milky look. If the particles sink readily to the bottom of the glass, grind them a bit longer and retest.

After you have finished with the shampoo, it’s time for a soothing rinse. Check out The Perfect Doggie Rinse for Spa Day.

If you have a cat and are concerned about losing two arms and a face when trying to bathe her, a dry shampoo might be a good alternative.

The simplest way to create a dry shampoo is to warm about a cup or two of colloidal oatmeal in the oven. Spread a sheet on the floor and massage the warm oatmeal through your cat’s fur all the way down to her skin. When you are finished, brush out the residual oatmeal. If you do happen to miss some of the oatmeal, it won’t hurt her one bit.

There, now you can have a spa day for your dog and or cat. Though they may not appreciate the whole bath thing, they’re sure to enjoy the attention, the music, and calming scent. After the bath, reward your pet with a special treat and some extra play or petting time and be sure and give him a hug from us here at SpaFromScratch.

When I’m short on time, I purchase the mollys Extra Fine Bathing Oatmeal. If you decide to go this route and make a purchase from here, we make a few cents.

Now go have fun and relax.

For more pet spa day articles click here.

19 thoughts on “Homemade Dog Shampoo – A must have recipe for both dogs and cats

  1. hello, I have an American spaniel mix with white and brown hair more white she has pink skin, scratching not raw but very annoying. need dog shampoo that will get down to her skin to relieve her itching. thanks!

  2. i sprayed a little lavender through a diffuser and before i started with the shampoo my cat started wheezing. i took her to the animal clinic where she passed on. They told me that many cats are allergic to lavender and thought I was stupid for spraying it. I guess she had an asthma attack. :C Cannot comment on the shampoo formula since i was unable to try it.

    good luck all

    1. Hi there Guest,

      That was horrible what happened to your kitty. So very sorry.

      Cats and dogs can both be sensitive to various scents (some humans too). Cats seem to be particularly sensitive and it pays to err on the side of caution if you have a kitty companion.

      When you use sprays, a concentration of chemicals in the spray can enter the body. For this reason, sprays should be used with caution.

    1. Hi there Guest,

      Thanks for mentioning this.

      A goopy mess is exactly what you can get if you add acid to bring the alkalinity of soap down too far. I didn’t dispute the other comment referencing the use of Castile soap because s/he didn’t indicate any quantities used in the formulation.

    1. Hi Guest,

      Occasionally when I’m out of shampoo for my dog, I will use my shampoo on her. My shampoo is all natural with no artificial fragrances and is pH 7.

      I’ve had no problems with Misty or the other dogs I have had by doing this.

      The best shampoos for humans will be slightly acidic ranging from pH 5.2 to 6.5. The pH for a dog’s skin ranges from 5.5 (slightly acidic) to 7.2 (very slightly alkaline). There has been one study showing the pH ranging from 6.4 to 9.1 on the area of the back starting at the neck and going along the back.

      Some breeders use human shampoo exclusively on their dogs, others won’t touch it. Unfortunately, the only way to know if human shampoo is right for your dog is to try it. Symptoms that it isn’t a good choice for the brand of shampoo you’re using is increased itching.

      I found an interesting article on how lowering the pH can actually help prevent certain alkaline dependent skin disorders in dogs. You might want to check it out. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC227028/

    1. I haven’t tried this, however the function of glycerin and olive oil are entirely different. I would think the olive oil may impart an undesirable texture to the fur. I have a Yorkie whose fur tends to be oily anyway. I don’t think I would use olive oil in her shampoo. If she had really dry skin, I would probably add a small amount of coconut oil to her rinse.

    1. There is no hard and fast rule as to the amount of oats to use. However, I used 1/2 cup of oats in 2 cups water. This concentration gave the rinse water the definite slippery feel I was after. This worked well for Misty. I also added one step to the process, I ran the rinse through a coffee filter to remove the particles of oats. Misty is a Yorkshire terrier and I discovered the oat particles tend to stick to her hair if I don”t filter the rinse first. Hint: The little dab of oat particles in the filter I tossed out for the the wild birds to enjoy.

      If I owned a large dog, I would make up a quart of rinse using 1 cup of oats to 4 cups of water. This rinse is watery so you want to make sure you have enough to cover the dog’s entire body.

    1. Homemade doesn’t imply that everyone already has the ingredients in their homes, however, these are common household items and/or are easy to acquire. Hence the term “homemade”. Get it? You make it… (wait for it)… at home! Just thought I should clear that up for you.

    2. No offense, but these are things I actually have in my home. Do you not wash dishes with soap?

      I use apple cider vinegar on my own hair. Glycerine is great to make home made bubble solution.

      These are things I have in my home. No offense, but, WHAT KIND OF PLACE DO YOU LIVE IN? ALSO WRITING IN ALL CAPS MEANS YOU ARE YELLING!!! “NO OFFENSE” does not magically remove rudeness from comments.

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