Toxic skull with chemical bottles

Pet Shampoo – Harmful Shampoo Ingredients to Avoid

The next time you shop for your pets shampoo you may want to read the ingredients. There are many harmful shampoo ingredients you need to avoid. In this day and age, it boggles me that some pet shampoo manufacturers still put harmful ingredients into their products. They do this mainly for cost reduction without thinking of the consequences that these ingredients will have on the animals.

Each time you bathe your pet the toxins in these shampoos seep into your pet’s skin and into their organs. Over time the toxins build up and can lead to liver problems, kidney failure, and cancer. Animals are exposed to many toxins in their environment that you have no control over. Why add more when you can do something about it? Learn what ingredients you need to avoid in pet shampoos. You do want the best for your pet, don’t you?


How to Read the Labels

Before I show you the list of harmful ingredients I want you to know that some manufacturers make it hard to understand exactly what it is they are putting into their Cartoon of a red bottle with a skullpet shampoo. When you see the words “Proprietary Blend” in the list of ingredients this should raise a red flag.  What this means is that the manufacturer is mixing ingredients and by labeling it as proprietary blends they do not have to say what is in that blend.  

Don’t be fooled by the words All Natural. Not all pet shampoo labeled as being all natural are actually natural. So how is one to know?

Here are a few tips to help you.

  • Look at the color of the shampoo. Most truly natural shampoos will be close to the color of olive oil or shades of green. Bright colors indicate artificial coloring.
  • Does the label claim to lather more than others? If so, avoid it. Pet shampoos that claim to make a big lather usually contain sulfates or ethanolamines.
  • Open the bottle and take a sniff. If the smell is overpowering like you just opened a bag of potpourri than chances are it contains artificial fragrances.
  • Check the thickness of the shampoo. A thick pet shampoo contains a synthetic thickening agent and should be avoided.

To be 100% sure you are getting a truly all natural shampoo for your pet look for the words “Certified Organic” on the label.


List of Harmful Pet Shampoo Ingredients

Ammonium Laureth Sulfate – This sulfate is used to increase foaming and known to cause skin irritation.a cartoon toxic barral

Artificial Colors – They are used by manufacturers to make the shampoo look more appealing. These artificial colors are made with petroleum which has been linked to causing allergic reactions, birth defects, and cancer. 

Artificial Fragrance – Another way manufacturer’s get you to purchase their product. There are many things that can go into making the fragrance and none have to be listed on the label. Artificial fragrances have been linked to causing allergic reactions, neurotoxicity, harm to the immune system, and cancer.

Cocamide – This includes Cocamide MEA and DEA and all are surfactants. The beginning of the word may fool you to think it has cocoa in it. Well, it may have started as cocoa but has been chemically altered to the point that it can cause organ toxicity, cancer, and also be harmful to the thyroid.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine – This is used to make the shampoo thick.  Yes, it is actually made with coconut oil but is processed and mixed with other harmful chemicals. The results cause damage to the immune system, allergic reactions, and can irritate the skin.

Formaldehyde preservatives –  Hard to believe this is still around, but it is. Manufacturers now call it by several different names so look out for these names on the label. Bronopol, Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Quaternium-7, -15, -31, -61, and Sodium hydroxymethyl-glycinate.

Isothiazolinone preservatives – This is a mixture of methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone. Wow, can you say that? This mixture is well known to cause allergic reactions and skin dermatitis.

Isopropyl Alcohol – Also known as SD-40, 2-propanol, and propyl. This dries up the natural oils on your pet’s skin causing irritation. Can also irritate the lungs, heart, and liver.


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Methylchloroisothiazolinone – Another one of those ingredients you can’t pronounce. This is a preservative and antifungal that has been linked to organ damage. Some countries have already banned this chemical.

Mineral Oil –  This is made from crude oil which comes from gasoline. Yes, you read that correctly. Mineral oil coats the skin and prevents it from releasing natural oils. It also prevents the release of toxins that are naturally eliminated from the paws of the skin.

Paraben –  This one may also be listed as butylparaben, methylparaben, or propylparaben. Paraben is added as a preservative that has been linked to causing cancer and affects the reproductive system.

Phthalates – This one may not be on the label but it is added so fragrance will bond to the shampoo. Phthalates are known to disrupt the hormones in both male and female.

Polyethylene Glycol – You may see this one listed as PEG on labels. This is a petroleum-based compound to soften skin. It works by pulling moisture from the lower skin layers to the top layer without replacing moisture. The results will lead to dryer irritated skin. Polyethylene glycol is also known to cause cancer.

Polysorbates – You will usually see the numbers 20 or 80 at the end. Polysorbates are used to bind the mixture together without separation after it settles. This starts out as corn syrup but gets processed with ethylene oxide which turns it into a harmful substance.

Propylene Glycol – This is another chemical that is added to make the skin appear softer. It is made from natural gas and known to be a skin irritant, organ, skin and reproductive toxin.

Sodium Benzoate –  This is added as a preservative. Sodium Benzoate is actually harmless by itself but once mixed with citric acid or ascorbic acid which is commonly added to pet shampoo it may become benzene. Benzene is known to cause cancers and other blood disorders. 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – This is a detergent to remove dirt which also removes all the natural skin oils. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is known to cause cancer, skin, and eye irritation. This chemical has also been found to last in the body for up to 5 days.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate – This is also a detergent that will strip away all the natural skin oils. Most sulfates go through a softening process that results into a toxin called dioxane. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is derived from coconut oil. Because of this, some manufacturers will use the all natural trick to lure you into buying their product.

Triethanolamine – This one is very close to Cocamide-MEA. Triethanolamine is added as a PH adjuster and has the same side effects as Cocamide you may also see it listed as Cocamide-TEA.



Well that’s a long list of words that are hard to pronounce. I’m going to sum this up with two words “Certified Organic“. Look for those words on the label the next time you shop for pet shampoo.

>>>>To Learn More About Certified Organic Pet Shampoos CLICK HERE!<<<<


I know you want the best for your pet, by using certified organic products you will feel confident that you are doing the right thing for your pet.

If you have any questions please leave me a comment. 

Happy pet bathing,


About Cathy

Animals are my passion in life. I am here to help you take care of your pet/pets. Educating yourself in pet care will lead to a happier healthier pet and that is something we all want!

6 comments on “Pet Shampoo – Harmful Shampoo Ingredients to Avoid

    1. Many pet shampoos contain harmful ingredients. To be safe always read the labels and educate yourself on harmful ingredients so you know what to look for.

  1. Wow I really didn’t know there were so many nasty chemicals in pet shampoo! I always just assumed it was just smelly soap. I hate to think I have been putting my pets at risk for so long.

    I will certainly now be looking at getting organic shampoo as it will be much safer. Thank you so much for alerting me to this!

    1. Hi Steve,

      I am glad you found this information to be helpful. I think many feel the same way. No one wants to harm their pets they just do not know about the harmful ingredience in many pet products. Hopefully, this will help spread the word.

      Thank you for visiting my site.

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