One of the silver linings of the current pandemic
is the turning toward animals as a source of comfort, companionship and motivation. According to a 2021 ASPCA
survey, 23 million households adopted a dog or a cat during the pandemic. And this was not a temporary salvo—most of those households will not consider rehoming their pet.
As a corollary, U.S. sales of pet products have soared, with the market jumping 9 percent from 2019 to 2020
and is now valued at $107 billion across all categories such as food, grooming and health services. Shelter in place mandates and working from home dynamics have only increased people’s ties to their animals, further boosting the penchant among pet owners to spend generously on pet care products and services to keep their pets healthy and happy.
As pet owners spend more, they’ve also become more discriminating about the quality of the ingredients, whether its food or fur-care-related. Pet wellness
is a thing—and grooming is considered foundational to that wellness. From mushroom supplements for dogs to enhance their coats, to Burt’s Bees cat dander reducing wipes, 2022 promises to unleash a plush panoply of clean and green grooming products for pets
. Some of the newer pet indulgences include pet-based CBD products, teeth wipes, dental spray, probiotics, dry shampoos, leave in conditioners and facial stain wipes.
Why is natural pet grooming worth it?
Just like with humans, pets absorb toxins in skincare—suspected carcinogens, irritants and hormone disruptors—through their skin. But what makes pets even more susceptible to toxins in skincare is they literally ingest the products too, when they lick to clean themselves after a grooming session or chew itchy spots.
Rest assured, if you use a shampoo or coat conditioner with toxic or carcinogenic chemicals, your pet is eating it. Chemicals in grooming products can also harm the environment, as they wash down the drain, spill into marine ecosystems and pollute drinking water sources. Choosing organic pet products
benefits your dog and the planet. If you use a grooming service, seek out one that only uses eco-friendly products. If it doesn’t, ask if you can supply your own.
Forego the “foul five”
The following five product ingredients, found in both pet and human personal care products
are among the worst offenders to the environment and should be avoided:
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
Often found in dog shampoos, BHA, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as preservatives in a variety of personal care products. Both of these chemicals are also used as preservatives in foods. These chemicals are linked to several health concerns including endocrine disruption and organ-system toxicity. It’s been found to cause lung, liver and kidney problems in lab animals and is banned in cosmetics in the European Union.
Used to make shampoos and soaps sudsy or creamy, cocamide DEA can cause skin and eye irritation and has been linked to liver cancer and kidney tumors, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.
SLS (sodium laureth) or SLES (sodium lauryl ether sulfate)
An inexpensive foaming and bubbling agent, these two similar chemicals are the most common detergents in dog shampoos and can cause eye or skin irritation. The Environmental Working Group has linked SLS to organ toxicity, cancer and neurotoxicity. Plus, these foaming agents are considered toxic to aquatic organisms.
Meant to enhance the smell or color of a grooming product, many synthetics are created from petrochemicals. These can often contain aldehydes, benzene derivatives and synthesizers that are known to cause allergic reactions, migraines and asthma symptoms, according to a warning from the David Suzuki Foundation.
Diethyl phthalate, a fixative used in fragrance to make the fragrance linger, has been linked in animal studies
to severe disorders in the developing male reproductive system, including defects in the external genitalia, undescended testes and testicular lesions.
Natural pet grooming products to try
Sulfate-free, and free of other harsh chemicals, this gentle but effective formula nourishes even the most sensitive skin. $14, vitacost.com
Formulated with organic oils and free of the foul five, this wholesome shampoo is gentle enough to be used on kittens and puppies. $11, vitacost.com
Raw goat’s milk, raw honey, organic coconut butter and other natural ingredients work together in this solid soap bar to clean and soothe your pup’s skin. No SLS, parabens or silicones and it’s gluten-free. $6, vitacost.com
A hypoallergenic formula this shampoo locks in moisture, revitalizes skin and promotes shine with natural ingredients like shea butter and honey. $8, vitacost.com
An organic ingredient deck, loaded with four different types of mushroom formulated to support a full lustrous coat, is a shining example of the pet wellness trend mirroring human wellness trends. $20, vitacost.com
This blend of pure oils, packed with essential omega fatty acids, is designed to support a full, soft, shiny coat for your pet. $16, vitacost.com