• Coach Kristen, MD

DIY Dog Shampoo

Here in Rhode Island, I don't give my dogs flea, tick or heart worm prevention during the winter. This is a personal choice that I made because the oral preventives trigger seizures in my Jack Russell, Tucker. After doing my own research, I concluded that prevention was unnecessary in the winter months when the dogs spend so little time outside and fleas/ticks/mosquitoes are less abundant. I in no way recommend that anyone do the same without doing your own research or consulting your own vet!

I recently spent a few weeks in Louisiana, and within days of arrival there, my dogs started scratching furiously. I found fleas on them, and tried a few natural products I found online, including a garlic diet supplement, a clove topical spray, and a natural anti-flea/tick shampoo. None alleviated the itching. Finally I caved and bought a Saresto collar. Even though I hated to apply chemicals to my dog's skin, the itching was driving her crazy. Even that didn't work!

I wasn't sure where to turn next. I looked up alternative home remedies for itchy dogs online. I found a home-made recipe on the Veterinary Secrets YouTube channel and thought - what do I have to lose? I made it (with a few little alterations) and was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked! My dog seemed relieved almost immediately as I applied the shampoo to her skin. This doesn't surprise me, because I feel immediate relief from any discomfort associated with irritated skin when I apply fresh aloe leaf gel.

I was more surprised that the scratching ceased almost entirely after that first bath. I still don't know if the problem was fleas, or allergies, or some combination of the two, but the home-made remedy worked so I'm a believer. On the drive home from Louisiana my dog started biting at the base of her tail again, so I repeated the shampoo process when we got back to RI. Again, immediate (and lasting) relief.

So, give it a try for your itchy pups - and let me know what you think!


- 1 cup of freshly brewed green tea

- 1 aloe leaf (gel)

- 2 Tbsp Dr. Bronner's Hemp Baby Castile Soap

- 2 - 3 drops of tea tree oil


Blend the aloe vera leaf gel with the green tea. Pour mixture into mason jar. Add the castile soap and tea tree oil (you can seal the mason jar and agitate the mixture a little to mix it). Use a pet grooming glove to massage the shampoo into your dog's wet fur and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes (making sure to really rub the shampoo into problem areas like your pet's paws if she is biting them, or the base of the tail if she biting that, or behind the ears if she's scratching there). Rinse thoroughly.

Why does this work?

Aloe is incredibly soothing to the skin. I use it on my own skin, and it's remarkable for soothing inflammation of any sort. Fresh aloe is best - you can get a plant at your local plant nursery. I keep about 5. They are very low maintenance. Alternatively, you can buy George's Aloe Vera Juice and use that instead.

Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-flea/tick. It will kill any bacteria/fungus causing itching on your pet's paws and will combat fleas/ticks. Use it very sparingly though - it is toxic is large doses - and don't use it on cats.

There is evidence that green tea is antimicrobial, and it's high levels of antioxidants have drawn attention from human dermatologists lately for their utility in anti-acne and anti-aging topical preparations.

Finally, Dr. Bronner's soap is gentle - and has none of the irritants you might find in commercial pet shampoos.

Let me know what you think if you decide to give this recipe a go!

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