Dogs get skin issues, just like we do, depending on the weather, allergens in the air and grass, or various bug bites. Signs of discomfort can be persistent scratching or itching, biting or licking their paws, or picking at a particularly irritated or infected spot, called a hot spot.

Wouldn’t it be convenient to whip up your own customized batch of calming shampoo or rinse in less than 30 minutes, depending on your dog’s ailments?

It may sound intimidating, but making a shampoo or rinse at home is doable for beginning DIYers. And more good news: Most of the ingredients may already be in your pantry.

If you want a completely toxin-free wash, steer clear of ingredient lists with a base of dish soap or baby soap, says Rita Hogan, a clinical canine herbalist based in Olympia, Washington. Those soaps are typically petroleum based and can strip your dog’s coat of natural oils.

Rita says to look for ingredient lists that have apple cider vinegar (which adjusts the pH level for dogs), baking soda, castile soap, aloe vera gel and glycerin.

Adding herbs to your water base (as if you were steeping tea), although not necessary, allows you to customize the shampoo for your dog’s skin.

Helpful herbs for skin issues

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Most dried herbs can be found on Amazon and/or your health food store. Rita recommends the following:

Chickweed for itching
Plantain or calendula for general troubled skin
Marshmallow root for dry skin
Neem leaf for fleas
Chamomile for dandruff, dry skin or sensitivity
Rosemary for cool skin and circulation issues or alopecia.

Basic Rinse

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Here, Rita walks us through how to make one of her basic rinses.

Ingredients and supplies:

1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel
8 ounces of water (option to add
2 tablespoons of dried herbs)
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
2 ounces of unscented castile soap,
such as Dr. Bronner’s
1 teaspoon of jojoba oil. Other oils to consider using are hemp, neem or an herbal-infused oil like calendula
Shampoo bottle or pint-sized mason jar bowl for mixing, a funnel and a spoon

©MahirAtes | Getty Images


If using herbs, mix the 2 tablespoons of dried herbs in 8 ounces of almost boiling water and steep covered for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool, but keep covered while doing so.
Combine herbal infusion with the castile soap, jojoba oil (or other oil of choice), apple cider vinegar and aloe vera gel. Mix well.
Pour into a half-pint or pint-sized jar or shampoo bottle.
Bath time! Store in the refrigerator for one to three weeks, and shake well before using.

Hot spot herbal treatment spray

Boil a ¼ teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt into 8 ounces of water.
Add 2 tablespoons of dried chickweed and plantain herbs, and let it steep for about 20 minutes.
Strain the herbs.
Put your rinse into a spray bottle and mist it on the hot spot two to three times a day.

Bentonite clay mix

If the hot spot has pus, Rita recommends using a bentonite clay mix, which has been shown to draw the pus out of the hot spot and help it heal, before using the herbal spray.


Put a teaspoon of bentonite clay in a spray bottle with about 8 ounces of water.
Shake well and stir with a plastic or wooden spoon (no metal).
Let it sit overnight. The clay will sink to the bottom.
Mist it on the hot spot.

No time to DIY

Love the idea but not the doing? Check out these products:

Natural Dog Company Skin Soother. Starts at $14.95;

Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Pet Hot Spot Spray. $23.99;

Silver Honey Hot Spot & Wound Care Ointment. $26.19;

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