Dog Washing with Dr. Bronner’s Soap

Dog Washing with Dr. Bronner's

Tucker totally steals the show here, but before you get enamored with him, let’s talk about dog washing with Dr. Bronner’s.

The simplicity that makes Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap great for our bodies, also makes it great for dogs. You’ve got that blend of saponified plant-based oils—coconut, olive, palm, jojoba, and hemp seed—which is exceedingly nourishing as it cleans thoroughly. And then you’ve got all the benefits of the various essential oils. No junk. No fillers. No irritants or cloying artificial fragrances. Plus, true soaps like Castile Soap kill fleas and other insects. It won’t give long-term protection, but it does clean them up beautifully.

In the video, I mention that I don’t predilute the soap. Tucker’s fur is so thick and holds so much water that once the soap hits it, it’s going to get diluted on the spot. However, you can certainly predilute it if it works better for your pooch. Cut it in half or more with water, wet your dog, and lather away.

Tucksie, Chucks/Chuckers, Captain Peanut Butter, Tuckermort, Darth Tucker. His nicknames capture altogether his essence: a sweet, bumbling, uncomplicated, nose-less, loud-breathing pup. And that’s why we love him!

Essential oils and pets

Dr. Bronner’s products are scented only with essential oils, and because of this, I frequently get asked about the impact of essential oils on dogs and other pets. I am glad to hear that people are being mindful of essential oils, because when they’re undiluted, essential oils can be quite potent—which of course is why they’re utilized for various forms of relief. But as with all therapies, the dose makes the poison—or the cure.  

With Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap, the concentration of essential oils is less than 2%. This then gets further diluted by water either in predilutions or during the use. Lastly, soap is a rinse-off product, which means that there is not a long exposure as you would find with a lotion or other leave-in product. Altogether, the low initial concentration, the further dilution, plus the rinse-off mean that there is no concern of problematics level of exposure and you and your pup can enjoy the aromatherapy of the essential oils as you wash.  

Cats are the exception. Because cats are such assiduous self-bathers—I have one beside me doing just that as I write—plus cats lack certain liver enzymes that can break down essential oils, in case there is any accidental unrinsed soap left on the fur, it is recommended to use the Unscented Pure-Castile soap if you’re going to wash your cat.   

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Sandie says:

Is this soap good for dogs with Itchy skin.. I have one dog suffering so much… Can’t even blow on him and he shivers and shakes..

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Sandie – There can be so many causes for itchy skin on dogs. It could be dietary, there could be a skin infection, or it could be a product you’re using on him. However, I do think that our Castile soap with its simple formultion and mild ingredients is helpful on a dog’s journey to comfortable skin. I would recommend the Unscented, which is very mild, since perhaps the skin might also be sensitive.

Sharon says:

Hi Lisa, I have a 10 lb. Chihuahua she has has yeast,hotspot’s and food sensitivity. I was told to try a anti fungle anti bacterial shampoo that contains tea tree oil or an herbal shampoo with No chemicals. Which soap would you recommend and I can dilute it right? Thank you for any advice and your time.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Sharon – I apologize for my delay in responding. While our Tea Tree Castile does not contain any ingredients that are medically antifungal or antibacterial, it is a simple, gentle soap and the Tea Tree essentail oil itself is well document for its antimicrobial properties. This is what I would recommend that you use. You can dilute it ahead of time if you would like, especially since this is a small dog with a thin coat. Perhaps start with a super diluted solution of 1:10, and if that isn’t enough, then add more soap to the solution. My labrador would also get fungal infections because he loved running through any ponds or standing water he could find and his coat would not dry fully. So many baths to get rid of skin issues!! The things we do for our dogs!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Stephanie – With irritated or dry skin, I recommend the Unscented Castile soap. Other mild options are the Almond, Citrus, or Lavender.

Tami says:

One of the complaints I hear about using this for soap is that it dries out some people skin really bad. Has there been an issue with this with any pets with dry skin? And if so, what I just delute it more?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Tami – The essential oils can have a big impact on skin dryness. Peppermint, for example, can signal the skin to produce less oil – which is good for people with oily skin, but not good for people with dry skin. I’m not sure if the same is true for dog skin. However, if a dog is prone to dry skin, consider using either the Unscented Castile soap, or one of the milder scents like Almond, Citrus, or Lavender.

Robert says:

I have used and trust Dr. Bronner soaps for fifty plus years. Peppermint has always been used on my dog’s and me. Recently I found that using the eucalyptus does not bother my private parts and I will be taking a bottle with me on Friday to wash my Ziva. Peppermint is really good for parasites. I trust that the eucalyptus will work just as well.

Zenaida Mancha says:

I washed my cat with diluted dr Broner 18 in 1 hemp tree pure castile soap now im concerned because of the liver lack of enzymes should i be concerned will something wrong will happen to my cat i rinsed him well..

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Zenaida- The concern for cats is that ingesting pure tea tree oil is damaging to the liver. However, the concentration of tea tree oil in the Castile soap is less than 2% and is further diluted by the water present in the washing. Plus, it is applied to the skin and washed off. While we recommend using the Unscented Castile on cats for extra caution, the risk of a toxic level of exposure from using the Tea Tree Castile Soap is extremely low. If the cat is not exhibiting any signs of distress – wheezing, disorientation, unusual lethargy – there is no cause for concern. Consult a veterinarian for any concerning symptoms.

Zenaida Mancha says:

Thank you! So much for the quick response!💕very helpful.

Valerie says:

I like the lavender and peppermint too. I love the products thank you.

Emilie says:

My understanding is that dogs need a shampoo specially formulated for their skin, pH, etc. What do vets say about using Dr. Bronner’s on dogs?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Emilie- Dog skin is generally found to be alkaline, as opposed to human skin which has an acidic pH. Castile Soap is also alkaline. However, despite the fact that both dog skin and Castile Soap are mildly alkaline, pH is not the foremost consideration in which soap or shampoo to use on your dog. What is more important is the aggressiveness of the surfactant (or cleaning agent). A surfactant can have the exact same pH as a dog’s skin, yet be far too aggressive and cause irritation by stripping the skin of needed oils. Their skin is not as impacted by pH as by the aggressiveness of the cleaning agent. (This is all true of people skin as well, which you can read more about in my article on the issue: All that to say, the surfactants in the Castile Soap – which are saponified olive/coconut/palm oils – are mild, non-aggressive cleansers that gently remove dirt and grime without stripping the skin of its needed oils.

Robin says:

I love the wonderful Bronner soaps and the wonderful Bronner family!!!Shalom!!!🥰

Angus says:

I need to tell you to advise people to dilute soap between 8:1 to 20:1 for dogs. This is essential because the soap added to a dogs coat, even Pre wetted can cause a burn and rash of their skin and strip all of the oils on their skin. I use Bronners on my dog but always dilute as aforementioned. My friends and I all agree.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Angus- I’m sorry to hear of your pup’s experience with our soaps! It’s great to hear that you’ve found a solution in pre-diluting the soap. For dogs (and people!) with sensitive skin, we recommend one of mild scents such as Rose, Almond, or Unscented Castile Soap. The latter is particularly mild and gentle.

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

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