“If that diamond ring turns brass…”…or the dog shampoo con! September 24 2014, 0 Comments


There’s my brain searching and sifting for relevant information again, and it’s fired back this children’s lullaby immediately…possibly as an appropriate parody- in that what you pay for, is not always what you get.

I raised the issue over dog shampoo effectively being a rip-off in my opinion, briefly last week. Product marketing has led us to believe that a dog’s skin is particularly ‘sensitive’. The pH of dog skin falls within the range of 6.2-8.62 (pH 7.3 average), depending on the breed of dog. A German Shepherd dog has a more alkaline skin than a Maltese Terrier dog for example- but for this purpose, we'll go with the average pH value.

The accepted neutrality point on a pH scale is water at 7- although be wary of bottled water brands, as tests have indicated readings as low as pH 4. Anything below pH 7 is acidic- anything above, is alkaline.

Human skin has a pH range of 4.5-6, depending on ethnicity, area on body and diet. Therefore, if you were to use a shampoo pH balanced for our use, the product would be too acidic for a dog’s skin and cause irritation. It’s not that a dog’s skin is ‘sensitive’ as such- as you’ve just seen, a dog’s skin is closer in range to being of neutral pH than human skin is.

This is why I believe that we’ve all been manipulated through commercial marketing. Commercial shampoos, soaps, body washes, dishwashing liquids, clothes washes etc are all based on petrochemical by-products. There’s not a hell of a lot of difference in the base product- it’s how they are then chemically manipulated for a desired purpose that achieves the end product. All of these products are synthetic detergent based.

What’s that…detergent based? Hmm…wonder what the pH of detergent/dishwashing liquid is? The pH values vary between brands, but the pH value of Palmolive dishwashing liquid happens to be 7.3. Isn’t that interesting…dishwashing liquid would be perfectly suitable for use on a dog’s skin (pH 7.3 average) as a shampoo! A commercial dog shampoo might have some other beneficial ingredients blended in, but you’re essentially buying dishwashing detergent at a dramatically increased price…the power of marketing and manipulation!

I’ve been manipulated by the marketing…spending a small fortune on dog products. I wouldn’t have considered paying the associated prices for our own shampoos…but for our dog, I did without hesitation because her ‘sensitive skin’ required 'specialised' care! Then one day, I was sold a neem oil based soap as the latest and greatest dog grooming product. It was expensive too- about three times the price for weight over our organic soaps…yet I handed over the cash on the premise of it being a specialised dog care product.

So I washed our dog Lucy with this neem oil soap. It was highly fragranced, didn’t lather very well, and did nothing to improve her irritated skin or coat condition.

By this time, I’d been making organic soap for a long time for our personal use. I took a step back and read the neem soap ingredients, and realised that I’d been manipulated into buying a cheap, commercial soap- no different to that sold for us at the supermarket- with a small amount of neem oil thrown into the mix. In fact, later I would realise- after making our own organic neem seed oil soap and becoming experienced with the strong odour of neem oil- that the percentage of added neem oil in the soap must have been very minimal, or an extreme amount of cheap fragrance compounds were added to mask the odour. Neem oil has a unique and strong odour...reminiscent of fried curry powder with onions!

It was at this point that I took a step back and actually researched the pH range of dog skin…and what an eye-opening exercise that was, as you’ve seen. A far superior product to wash our dog with would have been our organic soaps...any of them! Our neem seed oil soap has the maximum amount of neem seed oil added that is recommended in an oil blend for soap. Soap generally has a pH of 9- higher than that of dog skin…but that didn’t seem to be of any concern by the manufacturers of the commercial ‘neem’ dog soap that I’d purchased. There was nothing in the ingredients that would have altered the achieved pH of the soap. So they were hanging their claims on the benefits offered by the neem oil only in their marketing.

Given the above, I’d recommend using our ‘nimi’ organic soap as a dog wash for the natural properties that neem seed oil offers: antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antimicrobial, anti-septic, insecticidal and a skin soother through its various fatty acids. Following the bath and rinsing, I’d recommend applying a mix of 100 mL apple cider vinegar in 400 mL water in a nozzled sauce bottle, and working it through the coat evenly whilst the coat is still wet. This will reduce the final pH, and also act as a natural flea deterrent. The vinegar smell will dissipate when the coat is dry.

However, if you’d prefer to mix up a cheap dog shampoo, to 200 mL of water in an old squirter/shampoo bottle, add 1 tspn Palmolive dishwashing liquid and 1/2 tspn vegetable glycerine- shake well to mix. You could also add 1 tblspn of pure aloe vera gel as a skin soother. I don’t recommend this option though because the dishwashing liquid is a petrochemical…but your choice. Hmm…I’ve paid $20-30/200-250 mL for dog shampoos! Aren't you feeling incredibly manipulated through commercial marketing now?

Back to the lullaby, Hush Little Baby- I must have sung this lullaby to our children hundreds of times during their infancy…
”If that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.”