Washing the Dog with Dr. Bronner’s

Meet Sandy. She’s my 12-ish year old dachshound-something-or-other. She has kindly agreed to be my model in demonstrating how great the castile soap is in washing dogs. The castile soap works fabulously to remove the dirt, oils, and even pests on dogs. (We’re not certified about the pest part, but it does work.) It is very gentle on sensitive skin and can help dogs who have itching issues. And, although I’ve been fortunate enough not to know this firsthand, the Peppermint Castile soap apparently is a fabulous de-skunker.

The principles are pretty much the same as with washing people, except you’ll need more soap because dogs are hairier (usually) and dirtier (usually). You still want to be careful to keep the soap out of their eyes, and keep water out of their ears.

231 thoughts on “Washing the Dog with Dr. Bronner’s

  1. My dog, a mini poodle, Bear, has a rash on the inside of his right thigh area.I have been using povidine iodine, twice daily, along with Bear ingesting coconut oil and evening primos gel caps
    I bathed him in Epson salt and used a gentle shampoo.I was wondering if my bar of tea tree oil /Castille soap may help, until I can afford to do more.Im in a bind, and have also been putting plain yogurt in his food.Please help if you can, asap.Thankyou.K.

    • Hi Kathy – I’m sorry I didn’t see this earlier. There are some great customer comments above regarding healing various skin ailments. I was just reading about using hemp oil, both topically and internally by adding 1 Tbsp or so to the dog’s food daily, as a good way to reduce inflammation in problem skin areas. I don’t have direct experience with using the castile to clear problem skin on dogs. If the skin is broken, the soap would probably sting. However, if it is not broken, it could be very soothing.

      Can another reader weigh in here?

    • Kathy, my chihuahua has struggled with itchy belly/inner thigh problems ever since she was spayed. After ruling out ringworm and parasytic causes, we decided the most likely cause is yeast/fungal. The Dr. Bronner’s will be a good routine shampoo but you may need to use an anti-fungal type medicated shampoo 2-3 times per week for several weeks to clear the skin infection (I’m using a Ketokonozole based shampoo). If the rash is too scaly for the anti-fungal to penetrate you my need to begin with a coal-tar/sulphur type shampoo to clear the pores. All of these medicated shampoos must be left on for 8 to 10 minutes, scrub every couple of minutes with wet hands. Rinse well then rinse with a conditioner and slather on coconut oil afterwards as the medicated shampoos are quite drying and are not so gentle like Dr. Bronner’s is. I feed a high quality “no grain” kibble and supplement with coconut and salmon oil, the hemp oil idea sounds good too. Some will suggest going to all raw diet but that is just too much for me. When the rash is clear you could go back to the Dr. Bronner’s routine bathings with an occasional medicated shampoo treatment. Hope this helps.

    • Our elderly Old English Sheepdog has phantom pains near her tail from when it was improperly docked. She tears out the hair there, and bites at it until it bleeds. She then usually gets a fungal infection. I have found that using Bonner’s lavender soap , then rubbing the area with heliachrysom oil 4-5 times a day, clears the infection up in a week. The lavender soap is mild and repels fleas ticks and mosquitos, too. (We live in the Pacific Northwest).

    • I use Peppermint and eucalyptus for flea issues. Lather with one rinse Lather with the other one rinse.

  2. I agree. I use the lavender soap on my dog and myself. No more fleas and a sweet smelling pooch. : )

  3. Dogs with yeast/fungal problems are an internal issue – incorrect diet! My Havanese dogs were fed kibble for several years and were scratching continually, shedding hair like crazy and finally developed really smelly ears from yeast buildup wanting to exit the body. I switched them to a raw meaty bone diet and wow, all those issues Gone! I have been looking for a natural soap that would be soothing to their skin. I am looking forward to trying Dr. Bronner’s soaps on them and for my family as well.

  4. Does the liquid Castile soap leave the dog’s fur kind of gunky because of its high ph? Do I need to add vinegar to the soap to bring down the ph level for the dog before I apply the shampoo? Thank you.

    • Hi Sandra – Because dogs’ fur is generally pretty short compared to human head hair, the pH usually isn’t an issue. This is why people with short hair, and especially short stiffer hair (I’m thinking of my husband and one of my sons here), can wash their hair with the soap and head out the door. Us longer haired people, and perhaps longer haired dogs, need the acidic rinse. I’ve never owned a longer haired dog. I can barely keep the tangles out of my daughter’s hair and she generally doesn’t roll in the tumbleweeds. However, if you have an Irish Setter or a Cocker Spaniel, you might need a slight vinegar rinse.

      All that being said, never mix the soap with vinegar. You can read my rant about that mess here: http://www.lisabronner.com/a-word-of-caution-about-vinegar-and-castile-soap/. However, you can take a bottle – like an empty Dr. Bronner’s bottle – and fill it with 25% vinegar (for people, I’d recommend 50%) and the rest water. After you’ve rinsed the soap off the dog, squirt the vinegar solution over the fur, work it in, and rinse it out.

  5. I have been washing my dogs with the unscented baby, but it seems to dry out their skin and they get flakey dandruff. Do you have any solutions for this?

    • Hi Rachel – If you look back through the comment section here, there are lot of much more expert advice on dog skin than I could pretend to know. I haven’t faced this situation, but I think I’d try the powdered oat addition to the soap that one commenter made. There are also other suggestions about dietary changes that help the skin. Good luck!

  6. My dog is diabetic and she has yeast on her. She was on a flea pill and it didn’t help her. She got fleas and she is allergic to the flea saliva. Then she got the yeast. I know that’s what it is by how she smells. Is the Dr. Bonner’s 18 in 1 hemp tea tree pure castile soap safe to use on her if she is diabetic?

    • Hi Mary – This is a new question for me. I am acquainted with diabetic people who use the soap regularly and happily. I don’t know if there would be differing factors for dogs. The Pure Castile Soap contains no added sugar, and I cannot think of any natural sugars or carbohydrates that would be present. Perhaps this would be something to run by your veterinarian, just to be sure.

  7. Is it okay to use the tea tree liquid soap to bath our 6 month old puppy? I see it can be toxic for dogs to ingest, but I see conflicting information as far as using it externally. Thanks!

  8. I started using the unscented wash on me and loved it. My dog who has had yeast growth on her skin for a long time was so uncomfortable. I had tried medication and expensive shampoo from the vet. Nothing worked.
    I wash my dog every second day in Dr. Bronners unscented and her skin is pink, healthy and doesn’t smell bad anymore. Thank you for a great product.

  9. Hi Lisa!

    Quick question: Is Sal Suds animal safe?

    I have ordered a bottle of Sal Suds but just realised that it has pine essential oil in it. Essential oils are usually a big no no to be used around animals, so thought I should ask before using it as I have 3 cats and a dog.

    Thanks!

  10. Hi I had bought the citrus soap and I would like to know if this one can be used to wash vegetables, fruits and leafy greans. If not , wish one of the soaps would you recommend. Thanks

  11. How about cleaning mange? A rescue has developed the non contagious type. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  12. Time for true confessions, folks. It is February 9, 2017, and I have missed several months of comments for the simple reasons that things went a little crazy around here. I very much apologize. I am tackling them now for the sake of those faithful and new readers who might actually read them all. I am going to start with the most recent. Bear with me.

  13. I started using the unscented formula on my dogs. 1 of them has short hair but it’s a double coat of hair (he sheds…a lot!). On him he seems to get a film left on him after he dries out, we rinse pretty thoroughly but wanted to see if there’s anything else we should do besides doing a vinegar rinse. Thanks!

    • Hi Jennifer – I am very sorry to have overlooked your comment from FEbruary. If it is still helpful to you, I’d like to respond. It sounds like you have very hard water. The film is mostly likely a result of the soap mixing with the hard water. Instead of a full vinegar rinse, dilute vinegar in half in a spray bottle and mist that over him and wipe him down after the bath. You could use apple cider vinegar for a pleasanter scent, although the scent will dissipate after it dries.

  14. Hi — There’s lots here about dogs, but I’m interested in learning which products are safe for cats who naturally lick themselves all over. Look forward to your response. Joy Banks

    This is not a duplicate comment, as I’ve never been on this website before. — Joy

    • Hi Joy – I apologize for not seeing your question from March. For cats, we recommend our unscented Baby Mild CAstile soap, for exactly the reason you mention. They might ingest essential oils from licking themselves. The Baby Mild is just the castile soap with no essential oils added.

  15. I used Dr. Bronners on my pitbull. Her skin turned blood res and she broke out in hives.

    • Hi De – I apologize for not seeing your comment. How is your dog now? It sounds like she is allergic to one of the ingredients.

  16. Hi Lisa. I’m wondering if it completely biodegradable and safe for the aquatic life and environment if I were to wash my 100lb Shepard in the rivers and streams? Thank you, Megan

    • Hi Megan – Yes, we’ve had the soaps certified biodegradable so they can be used in all manner of environments, from direct bathing to grey water irrigation to septic systems. Sounds like fun for your pup!

  17. Needing dilution ratio for a foaming dispenser. I have the 18 in one Peppermint. Wanting to use it as a body wash in the shower, premised into a foaming dispenser. Please advise. Thank you in advance

    • Hi Monica – I apologize for my delay here. Try a 1:3 ratio and adjust it to your liking.

  18. The Dr.Bronners peppermint soap is great for ridding your dogs of fleas! I washed my Pomeranian every other day for two weeks! Her fur is shiny soft wonderful smelling and she is flea free!

  19. Hi! I love the peppermint soap for me and I just started washing my dog with it too. I was wondering how often I can wash my dogs paws with the 18 in one soap. I wipe his paws down 2 times a day after walks with a damp towel and it would be great to give his paws a quick clean with some dr bronners and a damp towel. I don’t want to overdo it — I could continue to use a plain wet towel if twice a day is bad for the paws. Thanks!

    • Hi Julie – It would be perfectly fine to use the Peppermint soap to freshen his paws after walks. He would probably love it! He sounds like a very well loved and cared for dog.

  20. I use the Tea Tree soap on my Bully. Great for fungus and fleas. Tea Tree is neurotoxic to insects. Put a small amount, cap full or two, in a tub full of water, only a .01 to 1% solution of tea tree is recommended by vets.Tea tree can be toxic to pets. Think foot soak not shampoo. Then we just keep dumping it over to rinse her off. She’s an indoor dog never really filthy dirty. After 10 to 15 minutes of soaking we rinse with clear water and towel dry.

  21. I just found this site and find it very helpful. I need to gently treat my indoor cats for fleas. I have read that tea tree oil can be toxic for cats (and dogs). I see that tea tree oil is a very popular ingredient. How can I make sure there is none in whatever Dr. Bronner’s product I purchase? Which product is recommended for a cat – liquid or bar? Scented or non-scented?

    • Hi Nancy – We recommend using our unscented Baby Mild Castile on cats. They are more sensitive to essential oils, and our unscented has none. Only the Tea Tree Castile, Tea Tree Sugar Soap, and Tea Tree Shave Gel contain tea tree essential oil. I recommend the liquid since it would probably be easier to handle while washing a cat.

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