Washing the Dog with Dr. Bronner’s

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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.

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

  1. Jenifer,

    I’ll jump in on this question…lol

    A lot of dog shampoos have oatmeal in them…and they are intended to soothe an itchy pup. It may work for people, but if your pup has skin issues there’s a good possibility allergies are the cause.

    Oatmeal (and grains) are carbs and could be a food source for bacteria. I wouldn’t reach for a shampoo that has oatmeal in it, rather I’d choose a good herbal/natural dog shampoo or one of Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps instead.

    Your pup might benefit from a good vinegar rinse after a bath, it helps with a multitude of skin issues. Mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 gallon of water. Pour over your clean pup from the neck down…rub into the hair…towel dry. Don’t rinse the vinegar off…let it works it’s magic.

    Tina

    • I would use apple cider vinegar for the rinse? What’s your preference Tina?

  2. Tina, thanks for the response. My dogs skin issues are due to allergies and we are doing everything our vet has recommended to do to treat them. High protein diet with no grains, additional fish oil added to the food, a daily dose of Zyrtec and when needed oral steroids. The vet actually recommended the oatmeal. I did mix ground oatmeal with the peppermint soap and it seems to have helped. It has been only two days, but he isn’t itching and is definitely softer and is not getting his usual oily skin as quickly.

    I have considered the vinegar rinse, but he has some raw areas on his body and I was afraid it might sting. Maybe once those spots clear up I will just use the peppermint soap with an apple cider vinegar rinse.

    But I definitely love the peppermint soap, used it on both dogs and I am amazed how soft their coats are! Plus they smell better :)

    • We had a golden retriever that had skin issues, we made sure not to give him anything with chicken, we used grain free and chicken free food. Chicken is a hot food for dogs

  3. Jenifer,

    I agree, vinegar on raw areas might sting a bit…and he might not like it too much. :)

    You might check in to organic virgin coconut oil and raw, local honey. Both are great for dogs with allergies. I use Tropical Traditions coconut oil…I buy it when they have free shipping (which they do today), because it can get pricey…but their stuff is great. (They actually have a product for dogs, but I buy the oil for humans….because I use it for me, too.)

    Not only can you feed the coconut oil…you can even put it directly on the raw areas…and if they lick it, that’s great, too.

    I use Grizzly Salmon Oil, it’s AWESOME stuff. My vet recommend salmon oil and I chose the Grizzly brand. My vet’s recommended dosage was the same as the bottle recommends. So, that was nice.

    I love the peppermint soap…and I love the way the dogs smell after a bath.

  4. Thanks for the heads up on the coconut oil, I don’t why I didn’t think of that. I have a huge bottle, we use it for a ton different things.

    The vet just gave us an anti fungal spray because he has seborrhea, he tends to get oily and flaky, and then a fungal infection. He is a Cairn terrier and I guess it is a common condition in the breed.

    Being that coconut oil has anti fungal properties I will definitely try rubbing some on the inflamed area. I’m concerned about adding it to his food because he has already gained an extra pound since starting the fish oil and I don’t want to add anymore fat to his diet.

    • Has your vet said anything about chlorhexidine? I use it to wipe down my seriously allergic pup after each trip outside.

  5. I’ve come to think coconut is the cure-all for most of what ails us and our animals.

    The recommended dosage for coconut oil is 1 teaspoon per 10-20lbs. I wouldn’t think that small of an amount would bother his weight much.

    I give some to my Labradors every day on top of their evening meal.

    I’m anxious to hear how he does over time…be sure to let me know. :) I’m always interested in natural ways to help our animals.

  6. Thanks for your advice, I will give it a try and see if it helps! I might just have to spend a few extra minutes throwing the tennis ball to make sure he doesn’t gain anymore 😉 but if it helps my poor baby it’s worth it!

  7. Re not using essential oil to wash cats: I have used liquid Dr Bronner Peppermint Oil Soap to infrequently wash my cats for the past 47 years, with no ill effect. I use the veggie wash technique – a medium squirt of peppermint soap in plastic tub of tepid water (insert cat, get it wet all over, remove from tub, splash with a couple glasses plain tepid water, roll animal up in thick towel, rock and reassure til semi-dry then let it go – the indignation fades as cat realizes how clean it feels). Peppermint and catnip are related which is why I use peppermint soap only. It kills fleas and the residual faint smell acts as repellent. No cat enters my house without the obligatory peppermint oil bath initiation, and there is a mandatory annual bath. My cats have lived 17-20 years under this regimen.

  8. I didn’t know peppermint and catnip were related. That’s awesome to know! :)

  9. Thanks everyone for all the helpful hints. Currently, I don’t use castile soap on my pets, but I am buying some today. Peppermint & tea tree for Mahoganee (dog) and unscented baby for the cats (Autumn, Jynx, & Pus).

  10. Missy,

    Thanks for the tip for washing my cat. In our house, everyone, including our adorable furry friends, MUST take baths. I usually follow up the cats baths with tuna. Hopefully, now I won’t have too. Lol!

  11. As one of your posters mentioned (magnoliasouth) Tea Tree Oil is toxic on pets and I’ve read that, too. I’m reluctant to use anything tea tree oil when it comes to my pets, now. But, I do have a huge bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender liquid castile soap and am anxious to try using it when bathing my dogs. Thank you for your wonderful products and for this terrific video.

  12. I hope this doesn’t sound silly, but I’m new to Dr. Bronners products. Is the liquid 18-1 Hemp Peppermint Castile liquid soap safe for my chihuahuas. There are so many soaps being mentioned here with peppermint, I want to be sure the one I have is safe/non-toxic. Are there any Dr. Bronners soaps that are not recommended for dogs?

    Thanks in advance!!

    • Hi KT – My apologies on a ridiculously late response here. I wasn’t tracking this post for, well, about a year now. Yes, the Peppermint Pure Castile 18-in-1 is safe for Chihuahuas. Dogs do well with all of our castile soaps. It is on cats that we recommend using our unscented Baby Mild soap,which has no essential oils.

      All the best,
      Lisa

  13. so I tried using your peppermint soap and It didn’t help much at all, the fleas are still on them and they can’t stop itching, if its not that the soap I chose was ineffective its’ that they have “hotspots”. if any of you soaps other than peppermint can help with that please let me know.

    • For the hotspots try DINOVITE. I have a large dog who is allergic to everything including grass. I was slow to purchase the food additive due to the cost but I could kick myself now for not doing it earlier. My dog who has suffer for years is now hot spot free.

  14. Hi there!

    I am really excited that I stumbled upon this! What a great way to save money. It’s also a great soap in general. I have grown up around Dr. Bronner’s soaps since I was a kid. My question is: what do you recommend for a conditioner after shampooing your pet?

    I also have an off topic question: Can your soaps be used as a laundry detergent as well? If so, how would i go about using it? Do I need to dilute anything or use a certain amount?

    Thanks for your help and having great products!

    Jillian

  15. I use the peppermint soap on a washcloth to bathe my super-hairy chow/german shepherd mix. He likes to swim in the pond and roll in lovely smells, and this is the only soap that removes all the odours. It does seem to dry him out a little bit, so I try to use it sparingly.

  16. Will this leave your dog’s hair thick and matted like it did with my hair? Do you need to use the rinse on them as well? All of my dogs have extremely sensitive pink skin, this is still safe to wash them with?

    • Hi Kate – I am so sorry I haven’t been tracking comments on this post and missed yours. Human hair is very different from dog fur, in general. (although there are a few breeds which are an exception) What makes our hair get tangled and matted when washed with castile soap is that the higher pH of soap makes the follicles stick out from the strand and get tangled with each other. Dog fur doesn’t do this. Our hair requires an acidic rinse to smooth it down; dog fur does not. Our castile soaps are very good for sensitive dog skin as well.

      All the best,
      Lisa

  17. Hi–I am trying to get away from the stronger, more toxic topical flea preventatives for my dogs. I have used your peppermint soap exclusively for years as both body wash and shampoo, and I am never, ever bitten by mosquitoes. I know that the peppermint is a natural deterrent. Would it be safe for my dogs if I were to dilute the soap significantly (say a 20/1 ratio) and spray it on the dogs as a flea and tick repellent? I’m not going to wash the dogs every day and I doubt if the repellent effect lasts much beyond the bathing, so the diluted spray used daily seems like a good idea, but I wouldn’t want to do anything to harm them. Thank you very much.

    • Hi Kim – I am so sorry for not seeing your comment last year. My concern with spraying a dog with a soap dilution is that the property of soap is to attract and hold on to dirt. If you left the soap on its fur, it would become very grimy. However, you can get the benefit of the peppermint oil by mixing a few drops of pure essential peppermint oil into a carrier oil like coconut oil and applying that to the dog. Pure peppermint oil would be very irritating to their skin. I’ve also heard of owners putting a few drops on an animals collar as a deterrent.

      All the best,
      Lisa

    • Letting the dog stand for 15-20 min at least under the Castile soap suds will flush out and kill the fleas.

  18. Would any of the Dr. Bronner soaps help remove poison ivy oil from a dogs fur? I’m very allergic to poison ivy and would like to be able to do a quick dog wash if I suspect that she has brushed up against any.
    Thnx.

    • Hi Lori – I am very sorry for my delayed response. I hope you haven’t needed this answer. I have heard that the Peppermint Castile soaps has worked well at eliminating poison ivy oil from skin. Knock on wood, I haven’t needed to try that out personally. I would recommend, considering your allergy, having someone else wash your dog so that you didn’t come into contact with the oil in the process of bathing him.

      All the best,
      Lisa

  19. WELL WELL ID HAVE TO SAY THIS HAS BEEN A VERY INFORMATIVE READ
    I MYSELF HAVE A BEAUTIFUL LITTLEROLL IN THE STINKY WEINER DOG I ORIGINALLY GOT THE LAV BAR SOAP TO SCRUB MY OWN BUTT BUT SEEING AS HOW MY POOCH GETS THE BATHS BOUT EVERY TIME I DO I LET HIM GET A SCRUB TOO AND ILL PROFESS HE IS A SLICK SLICK SHINY DUDE
    IM VERY SATISFIED WITH THIS PRODUCT AND SEEING AS ITS VERY ALL NATURAL I CAN SEE BATHING HIM ONCE A WEEK
    IM CONSIDERING THE PEPPERMINT AND IF IT WORKS FOR THE FLEAS I MAY OMIT THE FIPRONIL MONTHLY TREATMENT WHICCH ID BE THOUROUGHLY PLEASED
    IM ALL ABOUT NOT USING THE NASTY CHEMICAL STUFF BUT A FELLAS GOTTA DO WHATTA A FELLAS GOTTA DO
    IF ANY OF YALL ARE READING THIS PLEASE TRY THIS PRODUCT

  20. Do not use the Tea Tree Oil variety on pets!!!
    Tea tree oil is toxic when swallowed.[14] According to the American Cancer Society ingesting tea tree oil has been reported to cause drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, coma, unsteadiness, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset, blood cell abnormalities, and severe rashes. It should be kept away from pets and children.[3] Tea tree oil should not be used in or around the mouth.[4] There is at least one case of poisoning reported in medical literature.[16]

    • I have used Bronner’s with Tea Tree oil several times on my dogs, and currently use an ear cleaner with tea tree oil as suggested by my homeopathic vet. Like most things, anything consumed (that isn’t meant to be consumed) can be toxic. I don’t believe tea tree oil used in appropriate topical applications is harmful.

  21. I’ve just briefly read through some of the posts. I’ve been a certified dog and cat groomer since the late 80’s. I use Dr Bronners on all my pets. The peppermint is my favorite. It deep clean and doesn’t dry out their coats. Rinses out beautiful too.

    The tea tree is the best for dogs with itchy, flaky skin. Great for those suffering with allergies. DO NOT use tea tree on cats.

    I would stay away from oatmeal. Its a carb and will feed the yeast that is on your animals skin.

    A baking soda rinse works great. 1/4 cup to 1 gal of water poured over your pet and let dry will help with the itching.

    If your dog suffers from allergies you need to treat him from the inside out. Do your pet a favor and google ” the Great Dane Lady “. She is a wealth of information about allergies and has solutions that treat the whole problem.

  22. Just getting ready to try peppermint soap on my chow. She is about 8 yrs old and has constant problems with itching and fur loss. I was at Costco and a sales lady talked me into trying a bottle it was 40 oz for $9.99. From what I can tell a very good deal. I just now decided to see if this could be used on dogs. I’m very hopeful. I’ll keep you posted if it helps her

    • Hi Josie – I am so sorry I didn’t see this earlier. I hope your dog is doing well. As far as I know, we have not had feedback from customers on this topic. We do get asked it a good bit for pregnant people, though, and in our research into the matter, we have found that there is no problem whatsoever in using castile soaps. Often the question has to do with the usage of essential oils. Because the concentration in our soaps is so mild and it is a “wash-off” product, there is not a problem with their usage during pregnancy.

      All the best,
      Lisa

  23. Any advice on a dilution for a no-rinse doggy wash? I ask because I hate soaking my dog during the cold winter months. He’s 80+ lbs and I can’t have him outside or running around the house wet. He’s deathly afraid of the blow dryer and I don’t trust the chemicals that they use at the groomers. I usually use pet wipes and extend the times between fulling baths.

    When I go camping, I make a no-rinse body spray wash of about a 5-10% dilution of Lavender Bronner’s Liquid Soap and distilled water. It really helps. I still bring a small bottle just in case and to wash dishes. I was hoping to make a similar dilution for my pup.

    • Hi Angelique – My apologies for my late response. I have not had experience with a no-rinse wash. My concern is that it is the property of soap to attract and hold on to dirt. So, having it in a no-rinse solution would mean that it might hold dirt on to your dog. However, you have a dilution that works well for yourself. You might give it a try on your dog and see what happens. If you do, let me know how it works.

      All the best,
      Lisa

  24. Hi guys,
    I’ve been reading ALL of these posts and they’re very informative, but I have a question….I have a bottle of Dr. Natural’s Castile Soap with Eucalyptus with organic shea butter, and I was wondering if that would be okay to use on my pups….

  25. I was interested in reading the comments and would like to add a few suggestions. Vinegar is highly effective for treating a variety of skin issues with dogs. Your dog’s skin, like ours, has what’s called an acid mantle which is a thin film composed of sebum and sweat. When this acid mantle is disrupted by diet, environmental factors, allergies or even sunlight, your dog’s skin can become irritated, dry, flaky and rough. The acidity in vinegar will neutralize the itch and help restore your dog’s proper ph level which ranges from 6.2 – 7.4. A solution of 50/50 vinegar and water when applied to your dog’s fur before going out will also help deter fleas and ticks.

    The reference to Tea Tree toxicity and dogs is not really true. It was actually due to someone applying the essential oil “neat”. Essential oils should never be applied “neat”. They should always be diluted with a carrier oil before being applied topically. Essential oils should never be used on cats as their liver can’t metabolize them. Hydrosols which are the waters left over from the essential oil distillation can be used safely on cats and dogs. I would save the Tea Tree Essential oil for first aid use and resort to other essential oils as a pest repellant such as Cedarwood, Lavender, Fir Needle, Citronella and Eucalyptus.

  26. Hi everyone! I have been wondering about the ph of castile soap and if it is ok to use on dogs. I tested my Dr. Bronners baby mild with my ph meter and it read 10. That is rather high. I am wondering if anyone can comment on this and if the vinegar rinse afterwards is vital to reducing the ph to a safe level for my pets skin. Thanks!

  27. Try this to keep water out of your dogs ears during a bath. Put a cotton ball, or part of a cotton ball if you have a smaller breed, in your dogs ears. It should keep all of the water out of their ears during their bath.

  28. I know this comment is 5 years after the original post, but I figured someone else would probably find this like I did when I googled castile soap for dogs. :)

    I tried the lavender one on my dog tonight for her bath, and it was amazing. Not only did it rinse out so clean, but it changed her fur! She’s a schnauzer/terrier mix, so her fur usually feels pretty coarse. After one washing though with Dr. Bronners, her fur is so soft! And having longer “hair” instead of a normal dog coat, it brought out some shine and curl I didn’t know she had! She didn’t look this great after a trip to the groomers!
    And then the smell! She smells so fresh and clean. I’m so glad I tried Dr. Bronners instead of buying a fancy (and expensive!) dog shampoo. Now I want to try some of the other scents!

    Thank you Dr. Bronners for making my beautiful girl even more beautiful! :)

    • Did you delute the lavender castille soap before washing your dog with it? I just purchased the soap, but I am not sure how to use it. I have a 20 lb bichonpoo, almost 9 years old, with some skin issues. What about the face and ears? Can I wash it?

  29. If you or your pet gets in poison ivy/oak, spray rubbing alcohol on the area as soon as possible. It works. Also, wash with soap and water asap. We keep a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol and spray our, bare skin, shoes, jeans, and shirts when we have been working in the yard. We got this info from a dermatologist.

    • I am thinking of trying the peppermint soap,does anyone know if it really helps with repelling ticks I’ve been having lots of them get on my dogs in the summer we live around lots of woods.

  30. I have tried other types of dog soaps and other remedies on my American pit-bull terrier for fleas and ticks and to make his fur nice. Until I found Dr. Bronner’s soap I have tried the peppermint on him he does not like it. His favorite is the Lavender soap he will fall asleep while be washed with this. After his bath I place a few drops of sweet orange or orange essential oil on his collar with a few drops of cedar wood essential oil. let it dry then I place his collar on him and he has been flea and tick free for years no chemicals needed.

  31. Can you use a castile soap and vinegar and herbs solution to spray on cattle for flys?

    • Hi Michael – You have jogged a memory that I can’t fully place of someone telling me that they used a solution of castile soap on their horses. However, I’ll need to see if I can get more details about that. In the meantime, you wouldn’t want to have a mixture that combined castile soap and vinegar, as they react with each other. You can read about that here: http://www.lisabronner.com/a-word-of-caution-about-vinegar-and-castile-soap/.

      If I find out more about the spray, I’ll let you know.

      All the best,
      Lisa

  32. I can testify that Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap does in fact “de-skunkify” a dog. I use it infrequently on my akita, as she mostly just needs a bath once a year or so depending on how much ocean and river swimming she is doing.

    I will use the vinegar hair rinse on her because she is needing some moisturizing or conditioner after a bath as she is now 10.

    Good topic and good comments!

  33. I use Peppermint Oil in a spray bottle as well to repel mosquitoes and fleas while they are outside.
    I also put it on their nylon webbing collar..

  34. Thanks for all the great sharing! As a new pet owner of a precious rescue dog, 2.5 yrs old ,this site will be invaluable.After one groomer trip I quickly decided to do it myself. Ordered Dr. Bonners Baby Mild liquid soap…organic essential lavender oil…organic glycerin…Now the fun begins !My little guy { 15 lbs } will be a lot happier and itch free. The groomer wash left him with a very strong chemical smell…and itching. Grateful to all of you!

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