The Ultimutt Guide to Zero Waste Dog Grooming


Need some ideas for zero waste dog grooming products and methods? We've got some top tips for getting Sparky squeaky clean — and reducing their carbon pawprint in the process!

Zero Waste Dog Grooming: the Basics

One of the basic principles of living zero waste with a dog is to use what you already have before purchasing new products. If you've still got some liquid dog shampoo in a plastic bottle, use all of it (and recycle the bottle) before buying new. The irony of shopping for zero waste dog products is, of course, the shopping itself. The whole point of switching to a sustainable lifestyle is to reduce your consumption.

When it comes to grooming, however, it might be a good idea to test out a new product before committing to ensure your dog doesn't react adversely. Though most zero waste dog shampoos are gentle and shouldn't cause any reactions, it's always better safe than sorry. Unscented soaps get the job done and are unlikely to cause any irritation.

Zero Waste Dog Grooming Products

Bar shampoo

Fortunately for the planet, soap and shampoo bars have come back in style recently. Many online retailers and pet stores carry dog-friendly shampoo bars with little to no packaging. If you're the crafty kind, you can easily make your own zero waste dog shampoo! (But that's a topic for another article.)

Liquid shampoo

If you're unable to use shampoo bars for dogs, don't lose hope. You have a few options when it comes to liquid shampoo. Your best bet is to find a shop that stocks liquid dog shampoo in bulk and welcomes shoppers to refill their own containers. This might be easier said than done if you live in an area without easy access to zero waste shopping options.

Liquid unscented castile soap can also double as a shampoo for your doggo. The keyword here is unscented. While some essential oils are considered safe for dogs when diluted properly, it's best to stay safe and opt for an unscented soap. (More on essential oils later in this article.)

Many zero wasters "pawsitively" love castile soap because it's so versatile. While many liquid castile soaps are packaged in plastic, some of the biggest brands use post-consumer recycled plastic. Because castile soap also has many other uses around the house, it can replace dozens of other products, from cleaning sprays to dishwashing liquid.

Bamboo brushes

If your doggo has a dense coat that mats easily, bamboo dog brushes are a "grrreat" solution for detangling. Bamboo holds up much better than plastic, and pure bamboo handles are also compostable. Plus, bamboo brushes for dogs are readily available at most big-box pet stores and major online retailers.

Stainless steel clippers

When it comes time to give Princess a "pawdicure", stainless steel clippers are the way to go. Stainless steel is durable and works wonders on even the thickest dog claws. Because stainless steel is standard for dog clippers, this is one zero waste dog grooming swap you should have no trouble making.

Zero Waste Dog Grooming: Things to Consider

Ready to make the switch to a zero waste dog grooming routine? Here's what you need to consider.

Beware of essential oils.

Essential oils work wonders for us humans, treating everything from acne and insect bites to stress and anxiety. The same isn't quite true for our hounds, though. While some essential oils may be safe for dogs when properly diluted in a carrier oil, they're highly concentrated by nature and should be used with extreme caution. Never apply essential oils directly to your dog's coat. This can cause skin irritation, swelling, and redness.

Shopping around for a zero waste dog shampoo bar? Be sure to read the ingredients list carefully. The following essential oils are toxic to dogs and can cause serious skin irritation:

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree
  • Wintergreen

Remember, Spot's sniffer is five times more sensitive than your own, so something that might smell nice to you might overwhelm your buddy. Plus, dogs often lick their coats after a bath. Ingesting even small amounts of essential oils can cause serious symptoms, from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures and loss of coordination. To stay on the safe side, it's a good idea to avoid products containing essential oils altogether. When in doubt, consult your vet.

Support the local economy.

If you're lucky enough to know a local soapmaker, why not reduce your carbon footprint even further by shopping local? Even if you don't live in an area with easy access to zero waste shopping, you'll also want to beware of ordering online. Shipping and transporting online orders contributes to carbon emissions. Plus, many online orders come with unnecessary and often unrecyclable packaging.

Watch the water.

Washing your woofer uses water. If you're looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle with your dog, only consider bathing your buddy when they really need it. Some of the most scrupulous eco-conscious pet parents save water by letting their pal splash in a clean body of water, like a lake or stream, just the way nature intended.

Zero Waste Dog Grooming: Wrapping Up

In today's ultra-consumerist society, it's hard to go completely zero waste — but it's not "impawssible!" With a simple swap to zero waste dog shampoo bars and stainless steel clippers, you and your buddy will be one step closer to a sustainable lifestyle you can feel good about.

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